From an Island Free Press Report
Dare County Manager Bobby Outten said Wednesday during a virtual public hearing that residents could pay less in taxes than originally thought to fund the Avon Beach Nourishment project if approved.
The proposed project to place more than 1 million cubic yards of sand along the beaches of Avon, likely from an offshore borrow pit, will extend the shoreline from about 3,000 feet north of the Avon Pier at Due East Road to the southern boundary of Avon, covering around 2.5 miles of oceanfront.
Outten said the study completed in 2020 recommended the project that would cost $11-14 million and would create a beach that is 100-125 feet wide. By the next time maintenance is due, in about five years, it will be about 75 feet wide. If approved, the project would begin in the spring of 2022, and will take about 90 days to complete.
Avon property owners will pay about 50% of the beach nourishment project cost, and Dare County will pay the other 50% out of the Beach Nourishment Fund, from the county’s occupancy tax, according to the project proposal.
During the meeting, Outten said that the original estimated tax rate would be able to be lowered.
“We got the final tally of the occupancy tax from last year, and on Friday, we ran the (proposed Avon tax) model again,” he said. “As we ran the model, we had more money in the fund than we did initially, and found that we only need $750,000 per year to pay the community’s share of the project. The 40 cent tax rate can be reduced to 25, and the 10 cent tax rate can be reduced to 5 cents.”
The county proposes to tax the properties on the oceanside of N.C. 12 from Due East Road to the southern boundary of Avon at a higher rate because this stretch of shoreline is adjacent to the proposed beach nourishment project. The rest of the properties in Avon will also be taxed, but at a lower rate.
Outten said the tax will be in place indefinitely, as beach nourishment is not a one-time project, and maintenance and re-nourishment must be performed approximately every five years.
Outten added that the issue will be discussed at a March Board of Commissioners meeting, likely the second meeting in the month.
The board will decide whether to proceed with the project, and will decide the final tax rate. If they decide to proceed, another public hearing will be held, as required by statue, and another letter will be mailed to Avon property owners with the new tax model.
The majority of public comments following the presentation were questions, although there were also several positive and negative statements regarding the overall proposal.