ONLINE UPDATE: Group discusses alternative renourishment funding

by Cole Dittmer
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Future funding of Coastal Storm Damage Reduction projects was the topic of conversation during a joint meeting called by Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox on Tuesday, April 15. Present at the meeting were representatives from the three beach towns in New Hanover County, New Hanover County, the city of Wilmington, and the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Wilcox said he wanted to set up the meeting after the March 26 New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority Board of Directors meeting, during which the beach towns’ request for an additional share of the county-wide Room Occupancy Tax funds was not supported.

With the beach towns facing no federal and state funding coming for future CSDR projects, Wilcox said all those involved should come up with other long-term funding options. The most recent CSDR projects for Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville beaches totaled approximately $7 million, $4 million and $8 million, respectively.

The three options discussed were a 1 percent Room Occupancy Tax increase, a 1 percent prepared food and beverage tax and additional sales tax. 

Of the five North Carolina municipalities that have a food and beverage tax, Wilmington and Beaches CVB President and CEO Kim Hufham said New Hanover County’s collection on that tax would likely fall between Cumberland County and Dare County. The annual prepared food and beverage collection for Cumberland County is $5.8 million and the annual collection for Dare County is $2 million. 

County finance director Lisa Wurtzbacher said the concern she would have with the food and beverage tax increase is that it would impact county residents and that the concern has also been expressed in the county manager’s office. From an additional percent on ROT, the projected countywide ROT collection would be an additional $1,467,440, Wurtzbacher said.

Although Wilcox said he did not think an increase in sales tax would be fair to local residents, the group decided to look into how much additional revenue it could generate.

Wurtzbacher said her office would gather rough data and projections for the three possible funding sources before the group’s next meeting, tentatively set for April 30.

Before the group’s next meeting Hufham said she would also contact Cumberland County, Dare County, the town of Hillsborough, Mecklenburg County and Wake County to see how their prepared food and beverage tax system was implemented.

Although no final decisions came out of the meeting, Wilcox said he felt it was a good start to the conversation.

“It was just meant to get the discussion going,” he said. “No one likes the idea of taxes but if we want our visitors to keep coming and enjoying our beaches this is where we are at. We need to get ahead of the curve and we are behind it now.”

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