Emerald Tidings

August 2011

  1. How Does Emerald Isle Compare to Other NC Beach Towns?

How Does Emerald Isle Compare to Other NC Beach Towns?

There are a total of 21 oceanfront municipalities in North Carolina, and this is the peer group that is most relevant when making comparisons of the Town of Emerald Isle to others.

While there are important differences among these communities, they all share common characteristics, including a desirable natural environment, similar demographics, relatively highly valued properties, and similar local government challenges. With this in mind, it is interesting to compare some of the basic indicators among the 21 oceanfront municipalities.

By most measures, Emerald Isle is among the largest of the 21 oceanfront municipalities in North Carolina.

Permanent Population

According to the 2010 US Census, Emerald Isle has the 4th largest permanent population among the 21 oceanfront municipalities. It is important to note that these are full-time residents only, and each town has many more seasonal residents and visitors.

Permanent Population of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns

Source: 2010 US Census
Rank Municipality Permanent Population
1 Oak Island 6,783
2 Kill Devil Hills 6,683
3 Carolina Beach 5,706
4 Emerald Isle 3,655
5 Sunset Beach 3,572
6 Kitty Hawk 3,272
7 Nags Head 2,757
8 Southern Shores 2,714
9 Wrightsville Beach 2,477
10 Kure Beach 2,012
11 Surf City 1,853
12 Atlantic Beach 1,495
13 Pine Knoll Shores 1,339
14 North Topsail Beach 743
15 Holden Beach 575
16 Ocean Isle Beach 550
17 Caswell Beach 398
18 Duck 369
19 Topsail Beach 368
20 Bald Head Island 158
21 Indian Beach 112

Total Housing Units

All of the 21 oceanfront municipalities have much larger seasonal populations due to the high number of second homes and vacation rental properties. In Emerald Isle, the peak summertime population can reach approximately 40,000 people - much larger than the official permanent population. Because there is not reliable and consistent data available on the total seasonal population among all of the 21 oceanfront municipalities, the total number of housing units (reported by the US Census) is perhaps the most relevant indicator of the true size of a NC oceanfront community. As noted, Emerald Isle has the 2nd most housing units.

Total Housing Units of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns

Source: 2010 US Census
Rank Municipality Housing Units
1 Oak Island 8,686
2 Emerald Isle 6,735
3 Kill Devil Hills 6,617
4 Carolina Beach 5,626
5 Sunset Beach 5,110
6 Atlantic Beach 4,935
7 Nags Head 4,884
8 Surf City 3,312
9 Ocean Isle Beach 3,206
10 Kitty Hawk 3,196
11 Wrightsville Beach 2,751
12 Duck 2,722
13 North Topsail Beach 2,547
14 Southern Shores 2,369
15 Holden Beach 2,335
16 Kure Beach 2,213
17 Pine Knoll Shores 2,049
18 Indian Beach 1,565
19 Topsail Beach 1,298
20 Bald Head Island 1,111
21 Caswell Beach 685

Total Land Area

The majority of the land area in oceanfront municipalities is located on a barrier island, however, some of the towns have expanded onto the mainland over the years.This accounts for the larger land areas indicated for some ofthe oceanfront municipalities. As noted, Emerald Isle is approximately 5.2 square miles, and ranks 8th in this indicator.

Total Land Area of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns in 2009

Source: NC State Demographer
Rank Municipality Square Miles
1 Oak Island 15.1
2 Kitty Hawk 8.2
3 Surf City 6.7
4 Nags Head 6.5
5 North Topsail Beach 6.4
6 Sunset Beach 6.3
7 Kill Devil Hills 5.5
8 Emerald Isle 5.2
9 Topsail Beach 4.4
10 Bald Head Island 4.3
11 Southern Shores 4.1
12 Ocean Isle Beach 3.6
13 Caswell Beach 3.1
14 Holden Beach 3.0
15 Pine Knoll Shores 2.6
16 Carolina Beach 2.6
17 Duck 2.4
18 Atlantic Beach 2.3
19 Wrightsville Beach 1.3
20 Kure Beach 0.8
21 Indian Beach 0.6

Total Taxable Value - Adjusted for Market Conditions

All of the oceanfront municipalities experienced significant property value increases in the mid-2000s, followed by significant value decreases in the past few years.The impact on all of the communities was similar, and each of the communities conducted a tax revaluation at different times in the 2000s. To account for differences in the revaluation year, the NC Local Government Commission (in theState Treasurer's Office) calculates the adjusted taxable value based on market conditions in that particular county each year. The data below is from FY 2009-2010, the most recent year of data available. As noted, Emerald Isle has the largest adjusted taxable value of all 21 oceanfront municipalities.

Total Taxable Value of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns in FY 2009-2010 (Adjusted for Market Conditions)

Source: NC Treasurer's Website
Rank Municipality Adjusted Tax Value
1 Emerald Isle $3,816,324,431
2 Oak Island $3,771,441,450
3 Wrightsville Beach $3,166,733,514
4 Nags Head $2,743,096,814
5 Carolina Beach $2,363,905,834
6 Kill Devil Hills $2,352,152,467
7 Ocean Isle Beach $2,337,203,197
8 Sunset Beach $2,230,080,637
9 Atlantic Beach $2,032,199,870
10 Holden Beach $1,952,800,798
11 Duck $1,906,663,929
12 Bald Head Island $1,752,789,852
13 Surf City $1,664,772,598
14 North Topsail Beach $1,563,019,528
15 Southern Shores $1,560,029,772
16 Kitty Hawk $1,280,242,772
17 Pine Knoll Shores $1,228,291,596
18 Kure Beach $1,128,124,830
19 Topsail Beach $616,672,012
20 Indian Beach $524,489,859
21 Caswell Beach $381,766,023

General Fund Tax Rate

All of us at the Town of Emerald Isle try our best to provide the highest quality local government services at the lowest possible cost to our taxpayers. The Town has been fortunate to maintain a very low General Fund tax rate over years, and for FY 11-12 (the recently adopted budget), the Town has the 3rd lowest rate of all 21 oceanfront municipalities.

General Fund Tax Rate Comparison of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns FY 2011-12

Source: Town Managers
Rank Municipality General Fund Tax Rate
1 Wrightsville Beach 0.0990
2 Sunset Beach 0.1050
3 Emerald Isle 0.1150
4 Duck 0.1250
5 Holden Beach 0.1270
6 Ocean Isle Beach 0.1300
7 Southern Shores 0.1400
8 Pine Knoll Shores 0.1560
9 Nags Head 0.1575
10 Kure Beach 0.1625
11 Atlantic Beach 0.1700
  Caswell Beach 0.1700
13 Topsail Beach 0.1725
14 Carolina Beach 0.1750
15 Kitty Hawk 0.1800
16 Indian Beach 0.2150
17 Kill Devil Hills 0.2150
18 North Topsail Beach 0.2255
19 Surf City 0.2326
20 Oak Island 0.2750
21 Bald Head Island 0.4060
     
Note: Does not include taxes levied specifically for
  beach nourishment activities.  

Total General Fund Revenues

Total General Fund revenues can also be an indicator of the size of the municipality, and potentially can be considered when judging the overall value of local government services. As noted below, Emerald Isle collected slightly more than $7.1 million of General Fund revenues (from all sources) in FY 2009-2010.

Total General Fund Revenues of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns FY 2009-10

Source: NC State Treasurer
Rank Municipality Total General Fund Revenues
1 Kill Devil Hills $11,195,581
2 Oak Island $10,918,256
3 Nags Head $10,008,478
4 Carolina Beach $8,381,128
5 Wrightsville Beach $7,984,017
6 Bald Head Island $7,179,655
7 Emerald Isle $7,115,907
8 Surf City $5,507,319
9 Ocean Isle Beach $5,500,407
10 Kitty Hawk $5,374,049
11 Sunset Beach $5,359,809
12 Atlantic Beach $5,300,077
13 Duck $4,886,725
14 Southern Shores $4,025,211
15 North Topsail Beach $3,504,282
16 Pine Knoll Shores $3,156,255
17 Kure Beach $3,092,699
18 Holden Beach $2,103,184
19 Topsail Beach $2,021,150
20 Indian Beach $1,251,428
21 Caswell Beach $795,829

Total General Fund Revenues Per Housing Unit

In order to get a clearer picture of relative revenues, it may be helpful to compare the total General Fund revenues per housing unit. As noted below, the Town of Emerald Isle received approximately $1,057 per housing unitto fund General Fund expenses during FY 2009-2010. This ranks Emerald Isle among the lowest by this indicator.

Total General Fund Revenues Per Housing Unit of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns FY 2009-10

Source: NC State Treasurer and 2010 US Census
Rank Municipality Total GF Revenues Per Housing Unit
1 Bald Head Island $6,462
2 Wrightsville Beach $2,902
3 Nags Head $2,049
4 Duck $1,795
5 Ocean Isle Beach $1,716
6 Southern Shores $1,699
7 Kill Devil Hills $1,692
8 Kitty Hawk $1,681
9 Surf City $1,663
10 Topsail Beach $1,557
11 Pine Knoll Shores $1,540
12 Carolina Beach $1,490
13 Kure Beach $1,398
14 North Topsail Beach $1,376
15 Oak Island $1,257
16 Caswell Beach $1,162
17 Atlantic Beach $1,074
18 Emerald Isle $1,057
19 Sunset Beach $1,049
20 Holden Beach $901
21 Indian Beach $800

Total General Fund Property Tax Revenues

The tables above represent total General Fund revenues from all sources, which includes various State-collected revenues, other fees and charges, and miscellaneous revenue sources. Most taxpayers are most concerned about their property tax bill,and the table below presents the total General Fund property tax revenues collected by the oceanfront municipalities in FY 2009-2010. As noted, Emerald Isle collected slightly more than $3 million of General Fund property tax revenues.

Total General Fund Property Tax Revenues of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns FY 2009-10

Source: NC State Treasurer
Rank Municipality Total GF Property Tax Revenues
1 Oak Island $5,743,851
2 Kill Devil Hills $5,315,580
3 Bald Head Island $5,254,626
4 Nags Head $4,522,141
5 Carolina Beach $4,311,691
6 Surf City (FY 2008-09 data) $3,508,815
7 Emerald Isle $3,013,663
8 Atlantic Beach $2,859,813
9 Wrightsville Beach $2,633,910
10 Kitty Hawk $2,553,160
11 Duck $2,463,421
12 Ocean Isle Beach $2,373,426
13 Sunset Beach $2,237,408
14 North Topsail Beach $2,066,771
15 Southern Shores $1,702,879
16 Kure Beach $1,605,579
17 Pine Knoll Shores $1,580,922
18 Holden Beach $1,474,580
19 Topsail Beach $1,325,174
20 Indian Beach $807,551
21 Caswell Beach $561,927

Total General Fund Property Tax Revenues Per Housing Unit

Again, in order to get a clearer picture of relative General Fundproperty taxrevenues, itmay be helpful to compare the total General Fund property tax revenues per housingunit. As noted below, the Town of Emerald Isle received approximately $447 ofproperty tax revenueper housing unitto fund General Fund expenses during FY 2009-2010. This equates to a monthly General Fund property tax bill of approximately $37 for the average-valuehousing unit in Emerald Isle. This ranks Emerald Isle as 2nd lowest by this indicator.

General Fund Property Tax Revenues Per Housing Unit of NC Oceanfront Towns Y 2009-10

Source: NC State Treasurer and 2010 US Census
Rank Municipality Total GF Prop Tax Revs Per Housing Unit
1 Bald Head Island $4,730
2 Surf City (FY 2008-09 data) $1,059
3 Topsail Beach $1,021
4 Wrightsville Beach $957
5 Nags Head $926
6 Duck $905
7 Caswell Beach $820
8 North Topsail Beach $811
9 Kill Devil Hills $803
10 Kitty Hawk $799
11 Pine Knoll Shores $772
12 Carolina Beach $766
13 Ocean Isle Beach $740
14 Kure Beach $726
15 Southern Shores $719
16 Oak Island $661
17 Holden Beach $632
18 Atlantic Beach $579
19 Indian Beach $516
20 Emerald Isle $447
21 Sunset Beach $438

Housing Density Per Acre

Emerald Isle prides itself on its "family beach", "small-town atmosphere", and the preservation of this atmosphere is the Town's highest priority. As noted in the table below, Emerald Isle has developed in a low density manner, with an average of 2 housing units per acre in the Town.

Housing Density Per Acre of North Carolina Oceanfront Towns 2009-10

Source: 2010 US Census and NC State Demographer
Rank Municipality Housing Units Per Acre
1 Kure Beach 4.4
2 Indian Beach 4.1
3 Carolina Beach 3.4
4 Atlantic Beach 3.4
5 Wrightsville Beach 3.2
6 Emerald Isle 2.0
7 Kill Devil Hills 1.9
8 Duck 1.8
9 Ocean Isle Beach 1.4
10 Sunset Beach 1.3
11 Pine Knoll Shores 1.2
12 Holden Beach 1.2
13 Nags Head 1.2
14 Southern Shores 0.9
15 Oak Island 0.9
16 Surf City 0.8
17 North Topsail Beach 0.6
18 Kitty Hawk 0.6
19 Topsail Beach 0.5
20 Bald Head Island 0.4
21 Caswell Beach 0.3

A Final Note About the Data

The data presented above is intended to give the reader a better general sense of how Emerald Isle compares to our most relevant peer group, but it is also important to note that this data does not account for differences in the individual communities' expectations, historical development patterns, historical challenges and opportunities, the range of services provided, nor the quality of services provided.

We hope this information is interesting and helpful to you. All of us at the Town of Emerald Isle try our best to provide the highest quality local government services at the lowest possible cost for our taxpayers. We also continually strive to improve the quality of life for our residents and also continually enhance Emerald Isle's desirability as a tourism destination and vacation home community!

Frank A. Rush, Jr.
Town Manager
252-354-3424
frush@emeraldisle-nc.org
Posted by Frank Rush Monday, August 1, 2011 3:46:00 PM

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