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New grant created by Dare County Tourism Board

The Dare County Tourism Board merged two grant categories to create a grant called “Tourism Impact Grant.”

On Thursday, May 16, the board voted unanimously to follow the recommendation of its steering committee in merging the two grants, called short-term restricted and Natural, Historic and Cultural Resource grant.

The new grant program is effective July 1, 2019. It is open to government agencies and non-profit organizations in Dare County.

The grant application period will be Sept. 1 through Sept. 30. These dates line up with the Tourism Board’s revenue receipts. Some 70 percent of the board’s revenue is generated in the summer months.

In addition, the board elected a tiered match requirement. If the amount of the project is below $50,000, no match is required. For grant requests between $50,000 and $125,000, the applicant must provide a 25 percent match. For a grant request above $125,000, the applicant must supply a 50 percent match.

The grants are on a reimbursement basis, meaning the applicant must spend the money to get reimbursed by the Tourism Board.

A match can be made by another grant. Projects can be phased, but there is no guarantee that a second or third phase will be funded. Applicants can submit one grant per project per fiscal year.

In the board’s budget, the newly-named grant will be carried in the restricted fund. The law creating the Dare County Tourism Board specified that 25 percent of the revenue generated by a portion of the taxes levied must be used for “services or programs needed due to the impact of tourism on the county.” This 25 percent is what is called the restricted fund. The funds making up the 25 percent is further divided into long and short-term.

The short-term, or what will eventually be called the tourism impact grant fund, receives 30 percent. In addition to the impact grant funding, the account will also fund July 4 fireworks.

The long-term fund receives 70 percent of the restricted monies, which fund the Soundside Event Site in Nags Head and infrastructure costs at the Roanoke Island Visitor Center.

In the restricted fund, the proposed budget calls for spending $6.52 million. However, that includes already approved projects in 2018 and 2019 that are not complete.

Ralph Buxton wrote a letter to the Tourism Board chairman Wally Overman objecting to the grants merger. As a board member of Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station for the last five years, Buxton wrote that the rehabilitation and facility improvement would not have been possible without the Tourism Board’s grants through the Natural, Historic and Cultural Resources grants. “Requiring a 50% match will make it much more difficult for Dare County non-profits to pursue their important missions,” wrote Buxton.

The existing Natural, Historic and Cultural Resource grant did not require a match. It also had no grant application window.

Event grants are carried in the General Fund under promotion. Funds available for new event grants are $324,500 in the proposed budget. The budget shows $623,100 for event grants, but $289,600 of that total is encumbered.

Reporting for the steering committee, Outer Banks Visitors Bureau executive director Lee Nettles said several inquiries had been made about using the old Dairy Queen building, which the Tourism Board now owns. Those inquiries will not be pursued as the board is awaiting a consultant’s report on how to use the newly acquired land. Nettles reported the building is in good shape and insurance is in place.

The rope course remains as a tenant. Nettles said negotiations continue. The board authorized the staff to mitigate the safety concerns posed by the vacant mini-golf course and authorized an expenditure not to exceed $30,000.

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