April 12, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Presentation - Overview of Carteret County Beach Commission & Shore Protection Office

I have scheduled time on the April 12 meeting agenda for the Board and the public to receive a brief presentation from Greg “Rudi” Rudolph, Carteret County Shore Protection Officer.  The presentation will be a condensed version of a previous presentation that some Board members received (along with officials from other Bogue Banks towns) in February.  The purpose of the presentation is to inform Emerald Isle citizens about the activities of the Carteret County Beach Commission and the Shore Protection Office, with special emphasis on services provided for Emerald Isle.

Commissioner Normile and former Commissioner John Wootten represent Emerald Isle on the 11-member Beach Commission, and the other towns on Bogue Banks have similar representation.  The Beach Commission is appointed by the County Commissioners, however, they have historically honored the recommendations of the Bogue Banks towns.  Greg “Rudi” Rudolph is a County employee who reports to the County Manager, but provides staff support for the Beach Commission and is generally supervised by and guided by policy decisions made by the Beach Commission. 

The Shore Protection Officer has historically assisted the Bogue Banks towns with past beach nourishment projects (Emerald Isle has completed 5 such projects since 2003), and is currently coordinating the development of a 50-year “Master Plan” and permitting authority for future beach nourishment efforts (including periodic realignment of the Bogue Inlet channel) on behalf of the Bogue Banks towns.  This process has been ongoing since 2010, and is expected to be complete sometime in 2017.  This effort is expected to provide long-term project parameters and permitting authority for future beach nourishment in Emerald Isle, and should essentially enable the Town to nourish the beach when needed, where needed, as needed in the future.  The effort is also expected to provide authority for Emerald Isle to periodically realign the main ebb channel in Bogue Inlet as needed in the future.  The Shore Protection Officer also coordinates annual beach profile surveys, monitors Federal and State policies that could negatively impact beach nourishment, and assists with other coastal issues.    

The Beach Commission and Shore Protection Office are funded solely by a portion (50%) of Carteret County room occupancy taxes, which generates approximately $3 million annually for beach nourishment activities on Bogue Banks.  (It is worth noting that more than 60% of annual room occupancy tax revenues are derived from within the corporate limits of Emerald Isle.)  The Town’s current financing plan for future beach nourishment efforts relies on the Beach Commission to fund at least 2/3 of future beach nourishment expenses in Emerald Isle, with an average annual expectation of approximately $1.4 million from the Beach Commission.  According to the Town’s financing plan, these funds will be supplemented by an average of approximately $700,000 annually from the Town (reserved in the Future Beach Nourishment Fund), and the combined revenues (an average of approximately $2.1 million annually) should enable the Town to fund future beach nourishment efforts on a “pay-as-you-go” basis and avoid the issuance of future debt.

Greg “Rudi” Rudolph’s presentation is expected to touch on the following:

  • statutory authority for the Beach Commission, room occupancy tax revenues,

  • composition of the Beach Commission,

  • brief recap of past beach nourishment projects in Emerald Isle,

  • annual beach profile surveys, and importance for FEMA assistance,

  • current condition of the beach in Emerald Isle, and future nourishment triggers,

  • overview of the 50-year “Master Plan”, and current status of permit process,

  • current condition of Bogue Inlet ebb channel, and future management strategy,

  • likely sand sources for future nourishment activities in Emerald Isle, and

  • the static line exception and potential future consideration of a “development line” for oceanfront construction in Emerald Isle.

Overall, the Town is very fortunate to have a healthy and stable beach strand, and that condition is the result of much hard work by many individuals over the past 20 years, including those who have served Emerald Isle on the Beach Commission, the Shore Protection Officer, the Town’s elected officials, Town staff, and many engaged citizens.  The Town has essentially reached a point where beach nourishment is essentially now a “routine” and expected service, which is exactly where the Town hoped to be when these efforts were first initiated.  As a result, the Town has been fortunate in recent years to avoid significant erosion concerns, and is well-positioned to address future beach erosion and inlet management challenges.

I look forward to receiving Greg “Rudi” Rudolph’s presentation at the April 12 meeting, and hope it will be helpful to our citizens who may not be aware of the importance of the Beach Commission and the Shore Protection Office.