- FY 2011-2012 - The Year in Review
TOWN OF EMERALD ISLE WORKING HARD FOR A BETTER EMERALD ISLE! FY 2011-2012 - The Year in Review
The entire Town of Emerald Isle organization continued to work hard during the past fiscal year (July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012) to keep Emerald Isle the great place that it is, and make it even better in the future for our residents, property owners, businesses, and visitors!
The Town strives to provide quality services to sustain a high quality of life and to maintain a small-town atmosphere in Emerald Isle. Our services and community improvements are designed to make Emerald Isle an even better place for our residents to enjoy their lives, and are also strategically implemented to maintain and enhance Emerald Isle's desirability as a tourism destination, retirement location, and investment option. Our challenge is to accomplish all of this in the most cost-effective manner, and we continue to place a high priority on the maintenance of the lowest possible tax rates and strategic grant opportunities.
The Mayor, Board of Commissioners, Planning Board members, advisory committees, Town Manager, Town staff, and many concerned citizens remain committed to the continued success of Emerald Isle. We are proud of our collective accomplishments - for you - during the past year, and look forward to another productive year in FY 2012-2013!
Highlights of the past fiscal year (July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012) included the following:
Hurricane Irene Pays an Unwelcome Visit
Hurricane Irene impacted Emerald Isle on August 26 and 27, 2011, and Town officials and staff worked in conjunction with Carteret County and other municipal officials to prepare for and respond to the storm's impacts. Irene brought heavy wind and rain, with a high gust of 77 mph and more than 8 inches of rain. Fortunately, Emerald Isle was spared significant building damages and did not experience significant storm water flooding. The Town issued a mandatory evacuation and implemented a curfew on August 26, but was able to re-open the Town to the public on August 28.
The Town provided regular hurricane updates before, during, and after Irene via the Town's website, email newsletter, and Twitter. Town officials and staff worked hard to return the Town to normal as quickly as possible, and much effort was expended to collect the significant volume of vegetative debris generated by Irene. The Town's contractor completed debris collections by early October, and the Town was fortunate to have all costs reimbursed by FEMA and the NC Division of Emergency Management.
Unfortunately, the Town's beaches experienced erosion during Irene, resulting in the loss of approximately 950,000 cy of sand from the Town's 12 miles of beach. The Town has been awarded $3.8 million by FEMA to replace a portion of the lost sand, and approximately 4.2 miles of beach will be re-nourished in early 2013.
Beach Nourishment Efforts Continue - Near Term and Long Term
The Town, in conjunction with Carteret County and other towns on Bogue Banks, continued efforts to insure that Emerald Isle's beaches retain their storm protection value and recreational value.
The Town spent much of FY 11-12 working with County officials, other towns' officials, engineers, and permitting authorities on the planning for an early 2013 beach nourishment project to replace sand lost during Hurricane Irene. Various funding and permitting challenges were addressed over the past year, and the project is on track to place approximately 675,000 cubic yards of sand along 4.2 miles of beach in early 2013. Sand is being placed in the areas with the greatest overall need and that were most impacted by Hurricane Irene. The total project cost is approximately $9.8 million, with $3.8 million provided by FEMA, $4.5 million by the County, and $1.5 million by the Town. After an unsuccessful request for $3 million of State funding, the County Beach Commission stepped up to the plate in a big way and increased their total contribution from $1.5 million to $4.5 million.
The Town also continued working with the County and the other towns during FY 11-12 on a long-term EIS and permitting authority to enable periodic beach nourishment to occur on an as-needed, when-needed, and where-needed basis (within certain pre-determined parameters) for the next 50 years. This effort is expected to yield a 50-year permit within the next 1-2 years.
A great deal of work was also put forth to insure adequate funding is available to meet the Town's long-term beach nourishment needs, and the Town is fortunate to have 75% of projected future funding needs addressed by established and reliable funding sources - the County room occupancy tax and the Town's special district property taxes. The Town's long-term funding plan had previously relied on a State contribution for the remaining 25% projected to be needed, however, State funding now appears more unlikely. In response, the Town sought General Assembly approval to levy a new 1% beach preservation (local option sales and use) tax within Emerald Isle during the 2012 legislative session. The General Assembly will study this issue this fall and winter, and the Town hopes to secure approval for to hold a Town-wide referendum on this proposed new funding source in 2013.
The Town recognizes that the beach is the Town's greatest asset, and continues to work hard to maintain a healthy beach strand.
Bike Path Network Continues to Grow - Big Goals for the Future!
With great fundraising assistance from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and generous contributions from residents, visitors, and businesses, the Town was able to extend the Coast Guard Road bike path from Emerald Isle Woods Park to Ocean Oaks Drive in May 2012. This new segment brings the Town's total network to 4.9 miles, and brings us closer to our goal of extending the bike path all the way to The Point (an additional 1.3 miles) and all the way to the Indian Beach town limits (an additional 4.8 miles).
The Town's strategy relies on grant funding for the extension of the NC 58 bike path from Hurst Drive to the Indian Beach town limits, and the Town was awarded additional grant funding from NCDOT in June 2012 to extend the bike path an additional 0.4 miles from Hurst Drive to Fairfax Drive. Construction will occur in late 2012 and/or early 2013. Because Coast Guard Road is a Town-street and not eligible for NCDOT grant funding, the Town's strategy relies on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee's active fundraising efforts for 50% of future costs, and the Town will provide the remaining 50%. The Committee is hard at work on fundraising for the next segment from Ocean Oaks Drive to Dolphin Ridge / Royall Oaks, and we hope to construct this segment within the next year.
New Storm Water / Ground Water Pump Station to Serve The Point
The Town's contractor has installed a new pump station at the corner of Island Circle and Coast Guard Road at The Point to address chronic nuisance flooding issues in this area. The new pump station will draw down both storm water and ground water in this area of the town.
The completion of the pump station represents an interim step in the complete solution to flooding problems in this area, as the Town must still install fixed piping from the new pump station to Emerald Isle Woods Park in the future. The Town is not permitted to discharge pumped storm water and/or ground water in the Atlantic Ocean or Bogue Sound unless emergency conditions exist, and Emerald Isle Woods Park is the only available permitted discharge area. The estimated cost to extend fixed piping to Emerald Isle Woods Park could reach as high as $500,000, and this work will be considered in future annual budget processes.
The Town is pleased, however, to finally make some good progress on solving this problem at The Point. In the interim, the new pump station will be available for specifically authorized emergency pumping to the beach during extreme flooding events if necessary.
Town Leads Effort to Provide Funding for Bogue Inlet Navigation Dredging
In August and September 2011, the Town led a cost-sharing effort among area local governments to provide funding to keep Bogue Inlet dredged for another year, and this effort will insure that Bogue Inlet will be dredged in 2013 despite a lack of Federal funding. Six area local governments partnered with the State of North Carolina to provide an additional $182,000 for Bogue Inlet in 2011, and these funds, when combined with remaining funds from a previous State-local funding partnership, should enable the US Army Corps of Engineers to keep Bogue Inlet in reasonably good condition in 2013. Efforts are underway by several different entities to develop a reliable long-term funding plan for Bogue Inlet.
General Fund Property Tax Rate is 2nd Lowest of 21 NC Beach Towns
The Board of Commissioners approved the FY 12-13 budget in June 2012, and retained the Town's 11.5 cent General Fund tax rate. This rate again ranks as 2nd lowest of the 21 beach towns in NC, and reflects the Town's high priority on low-cost local government for our residents and property owners. Other NC beach towns' tax rates range from a low of 10.5 cents to a high of 59.1 cents.
The Town utilizes careful expenditure controls, engages in detailed future budget planning, seeks to maximize grant revenues for community improvements, minimizes debt, and expects efficient service delivery from staff to keep our General Fund tax rate as low as possible.
The Town's total budget for FY 12-13 is approximately $8.9 million, and the Town employs a total of 55 full-time employees and 75 part-time and seasonal employees to provide services for approximately 4,000 permanent residents, approximately 6,700 housing units, and a peak seasonal population approaching 40,000!
Additional Park Improvements at Public Boating Access Area
The new Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area, a partnership between the Town and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, provided convenient boating access all throughout FY 11-12, and the Town continued its efforts to develop the facility as a comprehensive soundfront park.
Thanks to significant volunteer fundraising efforts, a new Veterans Memorial was dedicated at the facility in May 2012, and pays tribute to our dedicated veterans in a beautiful soundfront setting. Also, a new picnic shelter was constructed in June 2012 in honor of former Commissioner Gordie McAdams. The new shelter, constructed by a volunteer group, includes a shaded oversized table and beautiful views of Bogue Sound.
In January 2012, the Town acquired a vacant 2-acre parcel of land directly west of the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area, and hopes to acquire an additional adjacent parcel in the future to create a small athletic field. The Town was able to purchase the 2-acre bank-owned parcel at a low price with favorable financing terms.
Finally, the Town applied for a NC CAMA grant in April 2012 to construct a new wooden pier along the entry canal out to Bogue Sound, and remains optimistic that a grant will be awarded soon and the new pier will be in place prior to the 2013 season.
New Soundfront Pier Constructed at Eastern Ocean Regional Access
As part of the planned Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle project, a partnership between the NC Aquariums and the Town, a new soundfront pier was constructed at the end of Park Drive in May 2012. Parking is available at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access across NC 58.
The new pier includes an observation deck with beautiful views of Bogue Sound and a convenient kayak / canoe launching dock. The new soundfront pier complements the future planned Aquarium Pier, a new 1,000 ft. long ocean fishing pier to be constructed by the NC Aquariums. The new ocean fishing pier is currently on-hold indefinitely due to State budget challenges, but the Town is pleased to have the new soundfront pier at this location.
The Point Continues to Look Great!
It has now been more than 7 years since the Town's contractor relocated the main channel in Bogue Inlet away from The Point, and the area has never looked better! More than 2,000 linear feet of sand now exists between the vehicle access ramp and the main channel, and new dunes and vegetation continue to form. Prior to 2005, water depths were as much as 25 feet directly adjacent to the vehicle access ramp! The Town continues to monitor the movement of sand in this area on at least an annual basis.
Police Vehicles Outfitted with New Technology
New digital recorders and mobile data terminals were installed in all Emerald Isle Police Department vehicles in early 2012, and the new equipment will enable our officers to perform their work in a more efficient manner. The new digital recorders provide an accurate account of all traffic stops, and serve as an effective quality control and evidence tool. The new mobile data terminals enable officers to retrieve important information about suspects from their Police vehicle, thereby enhancing officer safety and reducing burdens on 911 telecommunicators.
Regional Access Parking Fee Program Continues
FY 11-12 represented the first full fiscal year of the Town's new regional access parking fee program, spanning parts of the 2011 and 2012 summer seasons. The program generated a total of $111,000 for the Town's beach access services in its first full fiscal year, and these revenues enabled the Town to insure a quality, family-friendly atmosphere at the two regional access facilities. 100% of program revenues are used for lifeguard services, dedicated Police personnel, and dedicated maintenance personnel and expenses at these facilities.
Ocean Drive Resurfaced
The Town completed the resurfacing of a 2.2 mile segment of Ocean Drive from the "dog-leg" in the 3000 block to W. Landing Drive in March 2012, providing a smooth riding surface for one of the Town's main streets. The Town is working on a plan to resurface a 2.7 mile segment of Ocean Drive from the Indian Beach town limits to 25th Street in either 2013 or 2014.
Major Public Drainage Pipe Repaired in Cape Emerald
A major public drainage pipe is located along Ocean Oaks Drive on the ocean-side, and conveys storm water runoff from the Deer Horn Dunes, Sea Dunes, and Ocean Oaks subdivisions through Cape Emerald subdivision on the sound-side to ponds near Bogue Sound. The pipe has experienced several joint failures in recent years, resulting in small sinkholes and pavement failures, and the Town was able to complete a comprehensive repair of the pipe failures in Cape Emerald in April 2012. The pipe is an important part of the Town's drainage system along Coast Guard Road.
Chief Hargett Injured in Chase, Suspects Apprehended
The Town experienced several home break-ins along Ocean Drive in December 2011, and the Police Department's surveillance efforts resulted in a late-night vehicle chase through central and eastern Emerald Isle that culminated in a crash involving Police Chief Bill Hargett and the suspects on NC 58 in the 2000 block. Thanks to Chief Hargett's and the Police Department's efforts, the suspects were apprehended, and were later linked to several other crimes in eastern North Carolina. Unfortunately, Chief Hargett was seriously injured in the accident, and required approximately 6 months of recovery time. The Town was glad to welcome Chief Hargett back to work in June 2012.
Other Notable Accomplishments / Items of Note During FY 11-12:
- The Town continued to experience a significant deer population, particularly in the Coast Guard Road area, and implemented a controlled bow-hunt in wooded areas in January and February 2012 to reduce the population. A total of 17 deer carrying a total of 17 fetuses were taken.
- The Town continues to provide a high level of solid waste services, and extended its current curb-side collection contract with Simmons & Simmons Management for an additional 5-year period until December 31, 2016. The Town also executed a similar extension with Waste Industries for condominium dumpster service.
- The Town's contractors collected more than 3,400 tons of residential trash and nearly 640 tons of recyclables in FY 11-12.
- FY 11-12 was the first full fiscal year for the Town's new golf cart program, and more than 200 golf carts were registered with the Town.
- New beach access walkways were constructed at 3rd Street and 5th Street to replace aging and deteriorating wooden walkways. With many of the original beach access walkways more than 20 years old, the Town is attempting to reconstruct 2 or 3 aging walkways each year.
- A new roof was installed on the Emerald Isle Community Center building and gymnasium in early 2012, extending the life of this important community facility.
- A new free summer concert series, EmeraldFest, was implemented for summer 2012 with 8 free outdoor concerts at the Western Ocean Regional Access.
- The Parks and Recreation Department, in conjunction with the Emerald Isle Business Association and committed volunteers, continued a strong tradition of quality special events, including the 6th Annual Day 4 Kids, 8th Annual Emerald Isle Triathlon, 8th Annual Christmas Parade, and the 21st Annual St. Patrick's Festival.
- Parks and Recreation and Public Works staff worked hard to maintain an attractive and well-maintained NC 58 right of way all through Town. The Town strives to create a "park-like" appearance along NC 58 from the bridge to the Town Hall complex.
- The Public Works Department collected yard debris from approximately 5,000 collection points throughout the fiscal year. The popular yard debris program has grown from a 1x per month collection in 2001 to an everyday program in 2012.
- The Board of Commissioners adopted new regulations pertaining to residential solar panels and residential windmills to allow the use of these alternative energy devices in an attractive manner.
- The Board of Commissioners adopted new regulations pertaining to internet sweepstakes cafes to prevent the location of these facilities in areas that are not compatible with nearby residential and commercial development.
- The Planning and Inspections Department permitted a total of 27 new residential units in Emerald Isle during FY 11-12, in addition to the construction of a new sanctuary for Emerald Isle Chapel By The Sea, an expansion of The Reel Outdoors / Village Market building, the opening of a new BB&T branch in Emerald Isle, and repairs to Bogue Inlet Pier after it lost more than 200 feet in Hurricane Irene.
- The Police Department was involved in more than 9,000 calls for service during the entire fiscal year, with a significant increase in call volumes during the summer months.
- The Fire Department extinguished 21 structure fires in Emerald Isle during the entire fiscal year, with nearly all resulting in only minor damage.
- The Town continued its close partnership with the non-profit Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. during FY 11-12, and extended its service contract for an additional year in FY 12-13. EI EMS, Inc. responded to more than 700 calls for emergency medical services during the fiscal year.
- The Town's total General Fund balance at June 30, 2012 is approximately $2 million, a responsible level that considers both the Town's potential emergency needs and the desire to keep our property taxpayers' money in their own pockets. The Town also continues to enjoy low debt levels. The Town's total outstanding General Fund debt as of June 30, 2012 is approximately $1.6 million, or approximately 0.05% of the Town's total assessed value of nearly $3 billion.
- Commissioners Tom Hoover, Jr., and Floyd Messer, Jr. were re-elected for new 4-year terms in the November 2011 election. Commissioner Nita Hedreen was re-elected for a new 2-year term.
- Mayor Art Schools, Jr. served the NC League of Municipalities, a statewide advocacy group and service provider for NC cities and towns, as it's 1st Vice President during FY 11-12, and will assume the role of President for FY 12-13.
The Town maintains a comprehensive website ( www.emeraldisle-nc.org ), an email distribution list (sign up in the top right corner of the website), publishes the monthly Emerald Tidings newsletter in the Island Review magazine mailed to all property owners, and also sends out Twitter updates. The Town strives to make sure our residents, property owners, and visitors are well-informed about the Town's services, projects, and issues.
Town Employees Strive to Provide Highest Quality Services
The entire Town staff is committed to serving you in the best way possible, and our employees work hard to maintain and improve our beautiful town. Although there is always room for improvement, the Town is fortunate to employ a quality staff of committed people. The various Town departments continued to provide the high quality, responsive, and courteous daily services that our residents, businesses, and visitors deserve in Emerald Isle over the past year, and will continue to do so in the future.