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Carolina Beach Renourishment Project Completed; Focus On Future Funding

Crews finished up work on the beach nourishment project in Carolina Beach last week. The project pumped 900,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach from the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier at the north end of Carolina Beach Avenue North to an area near the downtown Boardwalk.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The beach nourishment project in Carolina Beach was completed last week. The $4.6 million dollar shore protection project pumped over 900,000 cubic yards of sand from the northern end of the beach at Freeman Park south to an area near the downtown Boardwalk.
Local, state and federal leaders continue to focus on funding future projects. Even though leaders have to lobby Washington every couple of years for funding, the Town's 50 year Congressionally approve project cooperation agreement is set to expire in 2014.
Currently 65 percent is paid by the federal government with the remaining 35 percent funded by state and local governments.
In New Hanover County, a portion of the room occupancy tax on hotel, motel and short-term vacation rentals goes towards funding nourishment projects.
In light of the issues involved in securing continued federal funding, New Hanover County adopted a contingency plan last year that would allow continued nourishment of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach using non-federal funds. Under an interlocal agreement between the County and the three beach towns, if funding is not provided by the Federal Government in the future, all three beach towns agreed to provide 17.5% of the funds needed for periodic nourishment of their beaches. The remaining balance of 82.5% would be covered by New Hanover County and possibly the State of North Carolina.
In the absence of state funding, the entire 82.5% balance would be assumed by the County. The County would use Room Occupancy Tax revenues realized from a tax on hotels, motels and short-term vacation rentals.
A consultant informed the Town Council earlier this year that in the worst case scenario with the absence of both federal and state funding, and the County paying 82.5% of the cost for such projects would require the Town to put away around $550,000 per year to cover an estimated $22 million dollars required over a 40
year period. That's one and half to two million dollars every three years.
In the proposed 2013-2014 Carolina Beach budget, $350,000 of anticipated revenues from Freeman Park vehicle passes of around $1.2 million is designated towards beach nourishment funding. Yet that leaves a shortfall to reach the $550,000 estimated each year towards future projects.
Other options include legislation in the State House that would permit the Town to collect an additional 1% room occupancy tax to fund tourism promotion and beach nourishment projects.
Other potential revenue sources include an additional sales tax if permitted by the state legislature and raising the property tax rate.
The proposed budget for next fiscal year does not include a property tax increase.
A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives authored by Congressman Mike McIntyre would permit the Town to request a review to continue the federal agreement for an additional 15 years.