IN MARCH, THE NC Senate unveiled a proposal to change the way sales tax revenues are distributed in North Carolina, and that plan could have resulted in the town losing approximately $800,000 (or more) of sales tax revenues annually. The proposal would have changed the sales tax distribution to a formula based 100% on official population estimates instead of the current system that is based 75% on point-of-sale and 25% on official population estimates.
The NC Senate received a great deal of feedback from counties and cities all over North Carolina over the past few months, and released a revised proposal in June. The revised proposal would implement a more gradual shift in the way sales tax revenues are distributed, and would eventually result in a formula based 80% on official population estimates and 20% on point-of-sale by FY 19-20. Emerald Isle could lose approximately $200,000 (or more) of sales tax revenue annually in future years if the revised sales tax proposal is implemented. Although the revised proposal is an improvement over the original proposal, it will still be very difficult for the town to absorb a loss of sales tax revenue of that magnitude.
The state’s official population estimates do not include seasonal residents and visitors that make significant contributions to the state, regional and local economy. The town’s official population estimate is 3,784, while the peak summer population is nearly 40,000! The current distribution formula is primarily based on point-of-sale, and this formula accurately captures the economic contributions of our seasonal residents and visitors, and is the only fair method for a resort community like Emerald Isle.
The mayor, commissioners, town staff, and local residents continue to work hard on this issue, and are in regular contact with Gov. McCrory, Sen. Sanderson, and Rep. McElraft on this issue. The sales tax distribution issue will be negotiated by the NC General Assembly and the Governor’s office in the coming weeks, and we are hopeful that the final resolution will not have a negative impact on Emerald Isle’s annual sales tax revenues.
Decorative Street Lights Planned Along Bike Path and Downtown Area
In an effort to provide for a safer area at night and improve aesthetics, the town will be installing new decorative street lighting along the bicycle path and sidewalks in the “downtown” area this fall and winter. The new lights will be installed on both sides of Hwy 58 between the new Welcome Center and the town government complex, and will be identical to the existing lights along the bicycle path along Hwy 58 between Coast Guard Road and the new Welcome Center. The cost of this project (approximately $45,000) is funded 100% by fundraising proceeds overseen by the Town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The town looks forward to the completion of these improvements, which are a part of the Town’s overall vision for the “downtown” area.
Helpful Shark Information Posted
Recent shark attacks in North Carolina have resulted in several inquiries to town staff about sharks. A helpful flyer about sharks is available at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/CommunityNotice/shark_sense.pdf and includes tips for avoiding shark attacks.
The ocean is the natural habitat of sharks and other marine life, and sharks have always been present in the ocean all along North Carolina’s beaches, including Emerald Isle. Fortunately, shark attacks are extremely rare, and an individual has a much greater chance of being struck by lightning. Although the risk of a shark attack is very small, you can help prevent attacks by avoiding swimming near areas where people are fishing, staying out or the water if you are bleeding, by swimming in groups, and by refraining from wearing jewelry or brightly colored clothing in the water.
New Welcome Center Nearing Completion
Construction of the new Welcome Center continues, and is expected to be complete in early August. The Tourism Development Authority (TDA) expects to relocate to the new building this fall, and will be ready to provide helpful information to our visitors soon thereafter!
The new Welcome Center is located at 8400 Emerald Drive, on the western edge of the downtown area. The project is funded by the town (approximately $275,000), and future lease payments from the TDA will enable the town to recover the full investment. The new building also includes public restrooms accessible from the exterior of the building, and these restrooms replace older restrooms previously located at Merchants Park.
The new Welcome Center, with its location on the island, along the bicycle path, and in the downtown area, is expected to result in many more visitor inquiries than the current location on the mainland. The town and the TDA work hard to promote Emerald Isle and the entire Crystal Coast, and hope this new addition will enhance tourism in future years!
Town Purchases Vacant Lot Adjacent to Town Government Complex
The town recently purchased a vacant commercial lot on Hwy 58 at the corner of Seagull Road. The vacant lot is approximately 1/3 acre, and adjoins 1.2 acres of Town-owned property directly east that includes the town administration building. The property is located directly across the street from a 5.6 acre site that includes other town government facilities.
The town purchased this lot because of its strategic location adjacent to town-owned property, and the land will be combined with existing town property and reserved for unspecified future use. The town purchased the vacant lot for $150,000, and utilized General Fund balance (the town’s “savings account”) for this purchase. There are no immediate plans for the development of this lot, and any development will be determined by the board of commissioners in the future.
Coast Guard Road Repairs Planned for After Summer Season
The town’s contractor, Onslow Grading & Paving, completed the resurfacing of Coast Guard Road between Dolphin Ridge and Ring streets in March, resulting in a smooth pavement surface for nearly the entire length of Coast Guard Road. Several small pavement failures have since occurred in the newly paved segment, and temporary repairs have been made. Onslow Grading & Paving will return in the fall (after the busy summer season when less vehicle traffic is present) to complete more comprehensive repairs and restore Coast Guard Road to a new condition.
Important Golf Cart Regulations
The town’s golf cart program, which allows the operation of specially equipped golf carts on town streets, continues to grow in popularity, with more than 600 golf carts now registered in the program!
Please note the following important golf cart regulations that are designed to promote the safety of golf cart operators, other motor vehicles, and bicyclists and pedestrians:
• Golf carts must meet certain safety requirements and be registered and permitted by the town (and must display a town golf cart license plate),
• Golf carts registered with the town are not permitted to operate on Hwy 58 or Coast Guard Road, but may cross over these roads (note that golf carts with a State of North Carolina license plate are designed to travel at higher speeds, meet state standards, and are treated like other motor vehicles, and thus may operate on Hwy 58 and Coast Guard Road),
• Golf carts (nor other motorized vehicles) are strictly prohibited on the Hwy 58 bicycle path and Coast Guard Road bicycle path, and
• Golf cart operators must be 18 years of age.
The list above includes only the most common questions about the town’s requirements. A complete listing of the town’s golf cart regulations is posted at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/pdfs/GolfCartSummary.pdf. Enjoy your golf cart, and be safe!
Coyotes in Emerald Isle
The town has received reports of coyotes on the island (and they are also becoming more common in many North Carolina cities and towns), and is closely monitoring their proliferation. The town is consulting with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission on this issue, and thus far the NCWRC recommends no action at this time. Depending on how this issue develops, the town may take a more active approach.
The Town has posted helpful information about coyotes at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/CommunityNotice/CommunityNotice%20-%20Coyotes.
A Second Helping Collects Leftover Food from Vacationers for Those in Need
Visitors: Please don’t throw your remaining food away at the end of your vacation! Instead, please donate your leftover food to help those less fortunate!
Volunteers with “A Second Helping” collect canned goods, foodstuffs, perishables & non-perishables (even open containers) at four convenient locations for our vacationers on your way out of Emerald Isle. Drop-off sites are near Bert’s Surf Shop (corner of Islander Drive and Hwy 58), near Holiday TravLPark (corner of Coast Guard Road and Reed Drive), at 4Js Coffee Shop, and at Stir It Up Coffee Shop. Volunteers collect food each Saturday morning from June 20 – Sept. 5.
“A Second Helping” distributes all food to local food banks and soup kitchens in our surrounding area. For more information, visit www.asecondhelping-emeraldisle.com.