Emerald Isle Maintains Second Lowest Tax Rate Among Beach Towns
Emerald Isle’s FY 15-16 General Fund property tax rate of 14 cents (plus 1.5 cents specifically for beach nourishment activities; for a total of 15.5 cents) is the second lowest tax rate among the 21 oceanfront towns in North Carolina.
1: Wrightsville Beach .1330
2: Emerald Isle .1400
3: Holden Beach .1500
4: Sunset Beach .1600
5: Ocean Beach .1615
6: Atlantic Beach .1650
7: Topsail .1725
8: Indian Beach .1950
9: Pine Knoll Shores .1970
10: Caswell Beach .2100
12: Carolina Beach .2140
13: Southern Shores .2200
14: N. Topsail Beach .2361
15: Nags Head .2400
16: Surf City .2600
17: Kure Beach .2615
18: Oak Island .2750
19: Kitty Hawk .3000
20: Kill Devil Hills .3508
21: Bald Head Island .5113
Sales Tax Distribution Issue Not Yet Resolved
The NC General Assembly continues to consider potential changes to the sales tax distribution formula in North Carolina, and there remains considerable controversy about the proposal that is now included in House Bill 117. As discussed previously, H117 would rely more heavily on official population estimates to distribute sales tax among North Carolina counties, and places like Emerald Isle, Carteret County, and other tourism communities are harmed by this proposal because second homeowners and visitors are not counted in official population estimates. Emerald Isle’s official population (for sales tax distribution purposes) is estimated at approximately 3,800, however, the seasonal population ranges from 10,000 to as much as 40,000, depending on the time of year. H117 would result in Emerald Isle losing approximately $150,000-$200,000 of sales tax revenue annually beginning in FY 16-17.
The NC Senate has approved H117, however, the NC House has voted to “not concur” with H117. The bill will now be considered by a conference committee of select members of the NC Senate and NS House, and if an agreement is reached the bill will be re-considered by the full membership of the NC Senate and NC House.
Town and county officials remain engaged in this issue and are working closely with our Sen. Norman Sanderson and Rep. Pat McElraft to attempt to affect a positive outcome for Emerald Isle and Carteret County. Alternative proposals have been presented for consideration, including one that would maintain the current sales tax distribution formula and rely on state funding to assist rural North Carolina counties (the stated goal of the proposal’s sponsor), and another that would incorporate a seasonal population adjustment. Other alternative proposals are also being discussed and the final outcome is highly uncertain.
If you’ve not already done so, PLEASE contact your NC General Assembly members. A full roster is available at www.ncleg.net.
New Welcome Center is OPEN!
The Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority (TDA) officially opened the new Welcome Center in Emerald Isle on Aug. 21. The new Welcome Center is located on Hwy 58 at the site of the former Merchant’s Park near the center of Emerald Isle, and is a partnership between the town, the TDA, and the NCDOT.
The town expresses its sincere appreciation to all involved in the project and appreciates the good work by Jordan Building Company of Emerald Isle. The town expresses special thanks to the Carolinas Irrigation Association for donating the irrigation system for the attractive landscaping on the site, and also thanks Artisan Granite and Marble (of Emerald Isle) for donating a beautiful countertop for the project.
The east side of the new building includes a nice lawn for public gatherings, and also includes two public cornhole courts. Come on down, hang out and throw some beanbags!
Commissioner Candidate Forum – Tuesday, Oct. 20
The Emerald Isle Business Association is hosting a Candidate Forum (for the upcoming board of commissioners election) on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The forum will be held at the Emerald Isle Community Center at 6pm, with the first candidate comments scheduled for 6:30pm.
The town election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3. A total of seven candidates are running for three seats on the board of commissioners. The two candidates with the most votes will serve a four year term, and the third-place candidate will serve a two year term.
Sponsor a Rescue Tube
Tragically, a 16-year old boy visiting from Missouri drowned in the ocean at Emerald Isle on July 28. Thankfully, a 13-year old boy from the same group was rescued by brave bystanders on the beach, and the bystanders were assisted by a town “rescue tube” in place at the Bluewater Drive public beach access.
The town has installed rescue tubes at several public beach access locations in recent years, with many sponsored by concerned citizens. The town is now seeking to expand the rescue tube program to all public beach access locations in Emerald Isle, and welcomes any new sponsors. The town’s initial cost to install a new pole, sign and rescue tube is $90, and we hope to add up to 50 more locations prior to the 2016 tourism season.
If you’d like to sponsor a tube in your neighborhood, please contact Alesia Sanderson, parks and recreation director, at 252-354-6350 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Once installed, the town will provide all necessary maintenance and replacement of rescue tubes in Emerald Isle.
Town Planning Community Information Signage
The town is currently planning the installation of a new, electronic community information sign near the intersection of Hwy 58 and Coast Guard Road. The new sign will be used to display important community information, including information about special events in Emerald Isle (both town-sponsored events and charitable events sponsored by other groups). The new sign will have an attractive design, with landscaping, ideally in the wide Hwy 58 right of way. This location is preferred due to the fact that many residents and visitors travel through this area (near the EI bridge) on a frequent basis.
The new sign is intended to replace temporary banners and signs in the Hwy 58 right-of-way that are currently used to promote town-sponsored events and charitable events. The town seeks to continue to support these great community causes by allowing them to display on the new electronic sign, however, the town would prohibit the temporary banners and signs on the Hwy 58 right-of-way in the future. Additionally, a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court has created uncertainty in the town’s ability to continue to allow such temporary banners and signs in the future.
The board of commissioners will be considering the exact placement of the sign and formal policies governing the use of the sign and the prohibition on temporary signs and banners in the coming months. The town’s goal is to have the new community information sign in place by spring 2016.
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!
Please Make Sure Your Decks Are Safe
The town continues to remind residents and property owners to check your decks. Two separate deck collapses occurred in Emerald Isle this summer, with one resulting in serious injuries.
These unfortunate incidents, while rare, serve as an important reminder to all Emerald Isle property owners (permanent residents, second home owners, and vacation rental unit owners) to be diligent in monitoring the condition of the decks at your property in Emerald Isle. Emerald Isle includes more than 6,700 housing units, and many of these units were originally constructed more than 25 years ago. Additionally, the corrosive nature of the coastal environment can take a heavy toll on wood and fasteners, and it’s important to routinely inspect the condition of your property and take any necessary corrective action. There are many reputable general contractors, home inspectors, and rental management companies in and around Emerald Isle who can assist in inspecting the property and/or completing necessary repairs.
In accordance with North Carolina law, the town inspects any new construction and significant repairs or renovations at the time the work is completed, but does not engage in routine, periodic inspections. This responsibility ultimately falls on the property owner, although the town’s inspectors will inspect any property for which a specific complaint is received. In an effort to assist our property owners, town staff has prepared a simple, helpful “Citizens Guide to Deck Safety” that can be viewed at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/pdfs/DeckHandout.pdf. The attached flyer includes a graphic illustrating typical deck construction along with illustrations of common problems and other helpful tips.
Additionally, it’s important for everyone (property owners and visitors) to be mindful of the number of people gathered on a particular deck or section of deck.
If you have questions or need additional information or assistance, please contact Town Planner Josh Edmondson at 252-354-3338 or email@example.com.
Beach Driving Permits on Sale Now
The town allows driving on the beach strand between Sept. 15 and April 30 for four-wheel drive vehicles with a town-issued permit. Permits are now available at the Town Administration Building (7509 Emerald Drive). To learn more about this program, and to download the appropriate form, please visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/beachdrivingpage. Be safe, respect others enjoying the beach strand, avoid the dunes, and have fun!
EIFD Open House – Saturday, Oct. 3
Emerald Isle is fortunate to be served by a dedicated and professional group of firefighters, and Saturday, Oct. 3 is your chance to meet our team!
The Emerald Isle Fire Department will host an Open House on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Fire Station 1 from 11am-2pm. EIFD personnel will be conducting fire station tours, fire extinguisher demonstrations, fire truck activities, and more, including an appearance by Sparky the Fire Dog! Food and drinks will be provided.
Come on out, meet EIFD’s finest, and learn more about fire safety!
Blue Star Memorial to be Unveiled on Veterans Day
The Emerald Isle Garden Club is proud to announce the unveiling of the new Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker on Hwy 58 on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. A formal ceremony is scheduled for 11am near the new Welcome Center and the public is invited to attend.
The Blue Star Memorial program recognizes the service and sacrifices of our military service members from all branches of the Nation’s Armed Forces. The program is operated by the National Garden Clubs, Inc., and began in 1945. The program includes thousands of miles of highway designations across the United States, and also includes memorial markers for National Cemeteries and VA Centers and byway markers for parks, historical sites, and other civic facilities.
Mark Your Calendars for the 2016
St. Patrick’s Festival – March 12
Next year marks the 25th year of the town’s signature annual event – the Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival! The 2016 event is scheduled for Saturday, March 12, and is sure to be the biggest festival yet! Mark your calendars, and plan to join us in Emerald Isle for another great festival.
Did You Know?
Carteret County levies and collects a 6% room occupancy tax on all hotels, motels, and vacation rentals within the county, including Emerald Isle. The room occupancy tax generated more than $6.3 million in FY 14-15, with 50% of the proceeds earmarked for beach nourishment and 50% earmarked for tourism promotion and advertising. More than 60% of this total is generated within Emerald Isle alone!