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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Council Holds Special Meeting For Lifeguard Funding; Dragon Boat Race

Carolina Beach Council Holds Special Meeting For Lifeguard Funding; Dragon Boat Race

The Carolina Beach Town Council approved up to $10,000 funding to cover travel expenses for lifeguards to attend the National Ocean Rescue Competition in California at a special meeting held Monday August 5th.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council held a special meeting Monday August 5th, at 7PM to consider a request to amend the budget utilizing up to $20,000 in TDA funds and up to $10,000 from their legislative contingency fund to cover initial cost associated with a Dragon Boat Regatta.
Also, to consider a request to amend the budget transferring $10,000 to lifeguards travel and training from the legislative contingency fund to cover costs of the National Ocean Rescue Competition.
They also went into closed session to discuss various pending and ongoing litigation, personnel matters and real estate.
Mayor Bob Lewis explained, "I'm going to ask that this request be canceled. We've actually found an individual who is going to underwrite the upfront cost of organizing the dragon boat regatta so there will be no upfront cost coming out of the Council's or the Town's money."
A Dragon Boat Regatta is where teams compete against each other in a 45 foot Chinese Decorated Paddle boat. Each Boat seats 20 paddlers – 10 on one side and 10 on another, participants of any age can get on a boat with one additional person responsible for beating on a drum to keep the paddlers in motion while an experience steersman keeps the boat on the straight and narrow.
He said, "When you get down to it this is an event that will drive tourism in Town so our TDA funds, Tourism Development Authority funds from the Room Occupancy Tax, they are dedicated for these types of things to bring people to the Island. Really bring people during the shoulder season. Quite frankly during the summer we are booked full. Ask the hotels, they are booked for the summer and would like to get bookings in the fall and spring."
Lewis explained, "The whole focus is to get heads in beds" at a time when tourism slow.
A room occupancy tax (ROT) is charged for all hotel, motel and short-term vacation rentals. Those revenues fund the Tourism Development Authority. The taxes collected in Carolina Beach are used for
beach nourishment, tourism promotion and funding tourism related activities that increase tourism.
Lewis said over the years the Town has used TDA funds to fund fireworks shows and other events at the Boardwalk and there was never an expectation to get those monies back.
He said no funding is coming from the Town's General Fund and will come from TDA funds paid for by visitors who pay a tax for lodging.
He said the request on the agenda was no longer required because, "It's an issue where we don't even have to bring those funds up, somebody is going to underwrite that. The event will pay for itself. It's a return on investment. We are supporting two great causes. That's the volunteer fire department and the Got-Em-On Live Bait Club for their annual disabled fishing tournaments." Lewis said there could be 1,500 to 2,000 people in Town during the event set for October 25th and 26th.
As to who will underwrite the regatta, Lewis explained Tuesday he would have to check with the Town Attorney before releasing the name.
Later that day Lewis commented, "I am not sure what all the fuss is with who has stepped forward to fund the advance for the production of the Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival. There is no secret about it.  Gerry Bigley and I personally as local residents of Carolina Beach decided to advance the funding for the production company to get the event moving forward for the town.  
The initial request put on the council agenda was over-stated and was not what was needed to get the event stated we are only advancing the production company a little over $4500.00 as a deposit.  Both Gerry and I do not personally pat ourselves on the back as others do when we do something good for the community.   Our actions speak for themselves and helping out the community and various charities are just something we do every day.  We are not looking for recognition, but we both felt strongly that the Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival was a great event to support our local business community in the off season and to provide a fundraising event for our volunteer fire department and for the Got-em-on-live-bait club disabled fishing tournament events.  It was clear in this election cycle the political pundits were looking at making this event a political football and we just decided to take it out of play by providing the seed money if you will."
He explained, "We are not making a donation as yet to the fundraiser we are only contributing our time and advancing the money for the production company to pay for their services.  We can be repaid out of the revenues generated from participants, corporate sponsors and other forms of revenue generated by the event.  We are also working on securing the corporate sponsors for the event ourselves.  Based on the number of participants (many residents of Carolina Beach) and corporate sponsors getting involved there is little or no risk for us and we feel the event will provide both the Fire Department and Got-em-on some solid net proceeds.  We look forward to a great event."
On the issue of funding for the lifeguards trip to California to participate in a National Ocean Rescue Competition, Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he spoke to Fire Chief Alan Griffin a couple of weeks
ago and was approached by members of the Chamber to help fund the trip to California for that event.
Shuttleworth said the Chief mentioned $8,500 for expenses and he requested up to $10,000 to come from Tourism Development Authority and that the lifeguards would work on a fundraising program.
Shuttleworth said the issue was in booking the tickets in a short time frame and never to underwrite the expenses without money being paid back.
Shuttleworth said, "In today’s fast pace of Internet and cyber wars and news cycles out there, things spin out of control."
He said, "Whether its an electronic vote or whatever, we did have a conversation about spending $10,000 prior to this vote. I don't think that's the first time something like that has happened in Carolina Beach, perhaps it will be the last time. But the bottom line is, the $10,000 that is the consideration to amend the budget. It should be from the ROT tax if allowable and subject to reimbursements."
He said there was never a doubt as to if the lifeguards could raise the funds, it was an issue of the timeframe to book the airline tickets and rooms.
There was some question following the meeting as to whether or not the Tourism Development Authority would reimburse the Town for the expense.
Chief Griffin said when the lifeguards raised money this year, they went to the Regional Competition and performed well enough to advance to the National Competition in California. However, the funds had been exhausted.
A statement issued August 2, said the Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue was soliciting donations to help fund their trip to the National Lifeguard Competition at Manhattan Beach, California!  
During the early season, they held fundraisers to raise money
to send lifeguards to the Regional Competition held at Nags Head. At the regionals, they placed 1st and 2nd in multiple events and felt they could   compete at a national event.
Shuttleworth said, "Chief there was never a doubt in my mind you guys would
raise the money, we were looking for a mechanism to help facilitate you guys got there."
Mayor Bob Lewis said Tourism Development Authority funds are certainly well spent on the lifeguards trip because it heps promote tourism by promoting a safe environment for all residents and tourists that enjoy the beach.
The Council uanimously approved providing the funding for the lifeguard's trip.
The amount is up to $10,000  but fundraising efforts may cover the majority of the expenses requiring less money from TDA funds.
Chief Griffin had already spent personal money to purchase airplane tickets. The Town will reimburse him.
Dan Wilcox with the Carolina Beach Downtown Initiative said Tuesday they heard of the fundraising efforts of the Chamber of Commerce and challenged their membership to make donations. Over the weekend the group raised around $8,200 (including $2,000 from the Chamber's fundraising efforts) and as of Tuesday that amount reached just over $9,000.
Wilcox said, "The goal was to get the lifeguards taken care of" because they were leaving Wednesday morning. He said, "There are still checks coming in" and that it's, "About getting the community behind people that protect tourists, our families."