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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: Municipal Tax Districts For Beach Nourishment

Editorial: Municipal Tax Districts For Beach Nourishment

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

Earlier this year the Carolina Beach Town Council was informed one way to fund future beach nourhishment projects - facing a lack of federal and state funding - is to implement municipal tax districts. That would likely set a separate higher tax rate for those properties closest to the beachfront.
On the surface that seems like a logical answer to future funding shortfalls. Charge a higher property tax for those living adjacent to a renourishment beach that helps protect their property from erosion and hurricanes.
On the contrary. For years Carolina Beach has enjoyed funding from the federal government (all U.S. citizen's tax dollars), state funding (all NC taxpayers) and room occupancy taxes collected from hotels regardless of their geographic proximity to the ocean. Also, their customers are federal and state taxpayers.
When times get tough, it's hard to stomach asking people living closest to the ocean to carry the largest burden.
Especially when you consider those oceanfront homes typically cost more than homes farther from the ocean and therefore already pay a higher percentage of property taxes to beachfront value.
A healthy renourished beachfront is vital to our local tourism economy. Everyone in Town benefits. Retail businesses and property owners throughout Town - whether on the beachfront of living towards the middle of the Island - benefit directly and indirectly from the benefit of beach nourishment projects.
To operate for decades using money from state and federal taxpayers and then absent that money turn directly to a specific number of property owners is almost impossible to comprehend.
Now this hasn't been decided upon yet. It's just an idea that's been discussed several times in recent years.
Yet it's something to consider when property owners in general are already faced with tough economic times let along facing the possibility of having to pay more than everyone else to protect everyone's beachfront.
And that's important to remember, nearly everyone moves to the beach because of one thing, and it's not a mountain view or a big city life style. It's the ocean and the beach.
It will be a topic of discussion at the Council's upcoming November 13, meeting along with other options such as generating funds through Freeman Park revenues (did that last month), sales taxes, and other options.
The Town will likely have to put away around $600,000 a year to cover nourishment projects every few years with the help of the County room occupancy tax fund.
The Council will discuss holding public workshops and public hearings on the issue at their November 13, meeting. This is potentially one of the most expensive long-term reoccurring expenses the Town has had to plan for in many decades. Voice your opinion.