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Southern Shores looks at 2019-20 budget

Southern Shores town manager Peter Rascoe gave a brief review of a proposed $7,450,846 FY 2019-20 operating budget at the town’s May 7 meeting.

According to Rascoe, the proposed budget is based on anticipated revenues available to fund the same level of services citizens currently enjoy with no property tax increase in the town’s current property tax rate of 22.0 cents per $100 of taxable property value.

A public hearing for citizen input on the overall budget is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 4 in the Kern Pitts Center at Town Hall. Categories within the budget include:

Streets, Bridges and Canals . . . $1,842,067
Police Department . . . . . . . . $1,730,614
Administration Department . . . . $1,080,656
Code Enforcement Department . . . $  265,523
Fire Contracted Service . . . . . $  869,934
Ocean Rescue Contracted Service . $  163,500
Public Works Department . . . . . $  752,469
Sanitation Services . . . . . . . $  726,083
Capital Reserve Fund Transfer . . $   20,000
TTL General Fund Expenditures . . $7,450,846

Highlight expenses within those categories include:
– $1,000,000 for South Dogwood Trail Walking Trail construction with select side-street crosswalks for East Dogwood Trail Walking Tr.
– $887,575 for Police Department salaries
– $545,914 for fire protection services
– $385,150 for Administration Department salaries
– $324,020 for new fire station construction and property line fence
– $303,306 for Public Works salaries
– $220,000 for projected cost of to update town-owned buildings to achieve minimum building code standards
– $100,000 for projected increased legal fees for the town
– $45,000 for continued annual beach survey/report and profile study by APTIM Coastal Engineers
– $5,100 for a classification and pay study for town employee positions.
– $184,009 for Planning/Code Enforcement salaries
– a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment for town employees.

Following the June 4 public hearing, Town Council can adopt the proposed budget, amend it by simple majority vote and adopt the budget as amended or further deliberate components of the budget to reach an acceptable budget on or before June 30.

A separate public hearing for adoption of a proposed prioritization of capital street improvements based on a recommendation from the council’s Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee will be July 9 with funding from the previously adopted budget.

Other business for the evening included an announcement that a design problem has delayed construction of the new fire station as much as 60 days. Work was expected to resume later in the week, although it may be difficult to finish by the scheduled January 2020 completion date.

In a second reading, Town Council gave unanimous approval to limit septic system capacities and overnight occupancy for vacation cottages to a maximum of 14 persons.

A vacation cottage is any property and associated single-family dwelling used in whole or in part during any part of a calendar year for the purpose of transient occupancy. Transient occupancy as defined by the town is the overnight occupancy of less than 30 days for vacation, leisure, recreation or other purposes by residents who have a place of residence to which they intend to return.

The restrictions which passed on a 3-2 vote in April do not apply to residential dwellings not used as vacation cottages.

There was no action on a Mallard Cove Association Request to have Southern Shores assume ownership of a private street after it was announced that the application had been withdrawn.

Council did reappoint Mike Stone as a representative to the Dare County Land Transfer Tax Appeal Board, moved forward with creation of a citizen committee with representatives from several nearby communities to explore the possibility of having a Dare County library branch in Southern Shores, and sent a tree removal issue to the Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee.

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