Another great Christmas Parade took place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This was the 7th parade and had about 100 entries. Special thanks to my wife Diane for being the lead organizer and all of the people that helped her, especially Terri Ashby, Laurie Morris and many Town Employees. In addition to full-time residents, there were many second homeowners viewing the parade. We make a special effort to have the parade at a time that 2nd homeowners will be able to attend, so mark your calendars for next years parade, Saturday November 26, 2011.
I was recently elected to serve as 2nd Vice President of the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM) an organization of 500+ towns in North Carolina that tries to ensure that new State and Federal legislation is in the best interest of North Carolina towns. The 2nd Vice President normally moves to 1st Vice President the following year and then to President the year after that. As a NCLM officer, I recently attended the National League of Cities (NLC) conference (at NCLM expense, not Emerald Isle expense). NLC focuses on making sure that Federal legislation is not harmful and hopefully beneficial to local governments. I came back with some ideas of things to look into to improve operations, but my biggest “bring back” was how lucky we are in Emerald Isle. Certainly, our Emerald Isle economy is not booming, but we are doing very well compared to many other towns. Real estate construction and sales are still way off, but tourism did well this past summer and we are fortunate to have the military bases in our area that are expanding.
If all goes to plan, the Carteret County tax office will be notifying all Carteret County property owners of their new real estate tax values in late January or early February. It has been 4 years since the last valuation which was at the top of the market, and we expect to see significant decreases in values for many Emerald Isle properties. Because of the scarcity of real estate transactions, this has been a more difficult task than normal for the County Tax Office, but certainly one that is important to Emerald Isle tax payers.
Town staff and elected officials are beginning to work on the 2011/2012 budget. The State sales tax distribution formula is complicated and I don’t have enough space to explain it in this column. However, starting in FY 2002/2003, the General Fund tax rate was decreased a penny/year for several years for a total in excess of $600,000 because of increased sales tax revenues. For FY 2011/2012, most of the increased sales tax revenues will go away (about $430,000 which is about a penny on our current tax values). Therefore, there will need to be a cut in services or an increase in taxes (no more than 1 cent per $100 value) for FY 2011/2012. Please email your opinion to Frank Rush, Town Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org (or to me at email@example.com) and we will share them with the Board. We are especially interested in any services that you think are not worth the cost.
All in all, 2010 has been a very good year for Diane and I. I hope the bumps in the road for each of have not been significant and that 2011 will be a great year for all.