Emerald Tidings

March 2008

  1. Town Begins FY 08-09 Budget Process
  2. Work on Unified Development Ordinance Continues
  3. Decision Expected Soon on Grant Application to Fund Initial Work on "The Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle"
  4. Update - Status of The Point
  5. FOR SALE - Existing EMS Station Building

Emerald Tidings, composed monthly by Town Manager Frank Rush, is the official newsletter of the Town of Emerald Isle.


Town Begins FY 08-09 Budget Process

Board of Commissioners Seeks to Stabilize Tax Rate
The Town began the FY 08-09 budget process in February with three important actions.  First, the Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing on February 12 to receive citizen input at the front-end of the budget process.  Second, the Board held its annual budget planning workshop on February 22 to discuss priorities for the next budget year and a 5-year planning horizon.  Finally, Town staff began the organization's internal budget process on February 26. 

The Town Manager will develop the Recommended Budget over the next two months, and will present the Recommended Budget to the Board and the public on May 13.  The Board will then review and adjust the Recommended Budget in May and June, and will adopt a final budget and establish the Town's tax rate no later than June 30.  Another public hearing will also be scheduled prior to the adoption of the budget by the Board.  The FY 08-09 Adopted Budget will cover the period from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009.  The Town's annual budget process also involves the development and adoption of a 5-Year Capital Replacement / Improvement Program and 5-Year Budget Forecasts, as the Town always considers future budget projections when making current budget decisions.

The Town's General Fund tax rate for FY 07-08 is 6.7 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is among the lowest tax rates of all NC beach towns.  Despite a tax rate increase in FY 07-08, the Town's General Fund tax rate (adjusted for revaluation impacts) remains lower today than it was in FY 02-03.  As a result, the average taxpayer in Emerald Isle still pays less property tax in FY 07-08 than FY 02-03.  The Board of Commissioners is committed to maintaining a low General Fund tax rate, and their primary direction to the Town Manager at the February 22 workshop meeting was to seek to stabilize the General Fund tax rate in FY 08-09 and beyond.  The Town Manager and Town staff will be working hard to meet this goal over the next two months.   One idea that the Town is exploring is the potential elimination of the annual solid waste fee charged to all developed residential property owners.  For FY 07-08, this annual fee is $180, and is in addition to the annual General Fund property tax bill.  If this fee is eliminated, the General Fund property tax rate would likely increase by approximately 2.7 cents to replace these revenues, which equates to an additional $156 for the average Emerald Isle property owner.  The average tax value in Emerald Isle is approximately $580,000.  Higher valued properties would pay more than $156, while lower valued properties would pay less than $156.  As a result, the average Emerald Isle property owner would see a net savings of $24.  This proposed change is being pursued because it would likely result in an increase in the Town's annual sales tax distributions in future years - as much as $500,000 per year.  The Board will be evaluating the proposed change in the coming months, with particular concern for impacts on commercial property owners and high-valued properties.  The Board is expected to make a decision on this matter as part of their FY 08-09 budget review in May and June.   Regardless of the decision on the annual solid waste fee, the Town will be working hard to maintain high quality town services and provide beneficial new capital projects with the lowest possible General Fund property tax rate.  Public input on budget issues is always encouraged, and can be emailed to frush@emeraldisle-nc.org or communicated verbally by calling 252-354-3424.  Interested citizens can also attend Town meetings held monthly on the second Tuesday of the month to voice any concerns or suggestions.

Work on Unified Development Ordinance Continues

The Town has been working on the development of a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for the past two years, and is nearing completion of a draft document for public review.  The Town's goals in preparing the UDO are as follows:  1) to complete a comprehensive review of the Town's development regulations to eliminate inconsistent language and correct technical errors,  2) to create a more user-friendly and more understandable set of development regulations,  3) to insure consistency between the Town's Land Use Plan and the development regulations, and  4) to implement key recommendations from the Land Use Plan (i.e., Village East and Village West redevelopment zones, preservation of a public marina, and others).    The Town's existing development regulations were adopted over the course of the Town's 50-year history, with the last comprehensive review completed in 1983.  The Town's ordinances have been amended from time to time since 1983 in order to achieve important policy goals, and the Town made a determination that a comprehensive review was needed in 2006.  The UDO will be the result of this comprehensive review completed over the past two years.  It should be noted that the Town's intent in creating the UDO is primarily to improve the codification of existing Town policies regarding new development, and there are likely to be relatively few policy changes included in the UDO.    The Town has utilized a consulting firm, Town staff, the Planning Board, and a special UDO Committee to prepare the draft UDO.  The draft UDO will be presented to the Planning Board, Board of Commissioners, and the public in March or April, and will be thoroughly reviewed in the coming months.  A special information session will be scheduled for public education and input, and will be announced in the coming weeks.  The UDO process is expected to culminate with adoption by the Board of Commissioners sometime this summer.   For more information about the UDO, please contact Kevin Reed, Planning and Inspections Director, at kreed@emeraldisle-nc.org or 252-354-3338.

Decision Expected Soon on Grant Application to Fund Initial Work on "The Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle"

As reported earlier, the NC Aquariums and the Town of Emerald Isle submitted a $2 million grant application to the State's Waterfront Access and Marine Industry (WAMI) Fund in November 2007.  This grant, if awarded, will provide funding for detailed design, site planning, and the construction of associated site improvements for a new 1,000 ft. long concrete ocean fishing pier in Emerald Isle.  Future NC Aquarium funds and other grant funds are expected for construction of the new pier and pier house over the next four years, with a planned opening date of Spring 2012.  The site of the new "Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle" is the Town's Eastern Ocean Regional Access located near mile marker 15 on NC 58.  This is also the site of the former Emerald Isle Pier destroyed by hurricanes in the 1990s.  .   The NC Aquariums and the Town were informed in January that our application survived the initial WAMI review process.  A final grant application was invited, and was submitted in February.  The NC Aquariums and the Town remain optimistic about our chances for grant funding, and a final grant decision is anticipated in late March or early April.  If grant funds are awarded, the Town will convey the Eastern Ocean Regional Access site to the NC Aquariums later this spring, and design work would begin later this summer.    The Town and the NC Aquariums have forged an excellent partnership to address the need for a perpetual public ocean fishing pier along NC's central coast.  The partnership for the "Aquarium Pier at Emerald Isle"  is modeled after a similar effort in Nags Head, and would represent the second ocean fishing pier managed by the NC Aquariums.  A third ocean fishing pier is planned in conjunction with the NC Aquariums in the southern coastal area in the future, however, no specific sites or partnerships have been identified yet.  The Town of Emerald Isle is extremely pleased to host the "central coast" ocean fishing pier, and looks forward to the opening of the new facility in 2012.  

Update - Status of The Point

The Town completed a successful project to relocate the main channel in Bogue Inlet approximately 3,500 feet west in April 2005.  That project also resulted in the nourishment of 4.5 miles of oceanfront beach between Pinta Drive and Lands End. 

Between April 2005 and June 2007, the spit at the end of The Point accreted naturally by more than 1,000 ft, and vehicular and pedestrian access had been fully restored.  Since June 2007, the oceanfront area between Channel Drive and The Point has suffered significant oceanfront erosion, and the public access was closed in October 2007.  The 1,000 ft. + of accretion at the end of The Point remains, however, it is not accessible via the public access.  Some of the older sandbags installed to provide protection from the encroaching inlet channel in the late 1990s and early 2000s were uncovered, and today provide protection from the oceanfront erosion.  The Town has been monitoring this issue closely, and recently completed a detailed underwater survey of the sea floor near The Point in January 2008.  The survey results verify ground observations indicating that depths are very shallow, that oceanfront erosion continues to migrate to the west (away from The Point), and that natural accretion continues to restore areas first impacted by the oceanfront erosion beginning in June 2007.  Ground observations and survey results indicate the movement of a large lobe of sand from the east and from offshore shoals, and the oceanfront area between Channel Drive and The Point continues to accrete.  The Town remains optimistic that erosion in this area will continue to resolve itself naturally, however, the Town is also pursuing two options to place a relatively sand in this area to expedite the expected recovery.  Approximately 100,000 cubic yards of sand could be placed as early as winter 2008-2009 if necessary.

The Town remains pleased with the overall project results to date.  The Town acknowledges the concerns about oceanfront erosion, however, believes that these impacts are short-term and will eventually be resolved.  The Town judges project success against the original project goals -  1) to relocate the main channel away from the Point to relieve inlet-induced erosion,  2) to secure high quality sand for beach nourishment,  3) to improve navigation,  4) to restore public access, and  5) to complete goals 1-4 without significant harm to the environment.  The Town believes that all of these goals have been met, with the exception of #4 - public access, which was temporarily achieved and is expected to ultimately be achieved again in the future. 

It is important to note that the Town's consulting engineers predicted a 4-6 year time frame for all inlet-related adjustments to occur after completion of the project in April 2005.  We are now approaching the 3rd anniversary of the project, and are approximately half way through the adjustment period.  The Town remains optimistic that all project goals will be satisfied within the 4-6 year predicted adjustment period.

For more information about the status of The Point, please contact the Town Manager at frush@emeraldisle-nc.org or 252-354-3424.    

The map below shows the bathymetry (underwater contours) of the sea floor near The Point, as of January 2008.  Red represents land above sea level or less than 3 feet deep at mean water.  Yellow represents depths of 6 feet or less. The map continues to be dominated by more red and yellow, indicating a general shallowing of the area where the main Bogue Inlet Channel was previously located, with depths as great as 25 feet prior to 2005.

FOR SALE - Existing EMS Station Building - 218 Cedar Street

The Town is currently partnering with Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. to construct a new EMS station on Town-owned land adjacent to Fire Station 1 on NC 58.  The new building is expected to be complete by late summer 2008, at which time Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. will occupy the new building.    The Town will take possession of the existing EMS Station at 218 Cedar Street at that time, and is currently offering the property for sale.  The existing EMS Station is a converted beach house.  The existing station is in very good condition for use as a permanent home, beach house, or a commercial use.  The building consists of a 1200 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 2 bath living area on the top floor, and also includes a large garage and an additional 1200 sq. ft. of heated space on the ground floor consisting of a full kitchen, bath, and two large rooms.    The building is located on the ocean side, and a beach access is just a short walk away.  The building could also potentially be converted to commercial use, located near the corner of NC 58 and Cedar Street.     The sale price is $450,000, and the Town will consider all offers.  For more information, please contact Town Hall at 252-354-3424.

Frank A. Rush, Jr.
Town Manager
Posted by Frank Rush Saturday, March 1, 2008 8:16:00 AM