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Kitty Hawk requests feedback for continuance of MSD tax for beach nourishment

On April 6, the Town of Kitty Hawk held a virtual council meeting to address beach nourishment information, specifically on municipal service districts (MSD).

On June 1 of this year, a budget hearing will take place in Kitty Hawk. The hearing will include MSD tax rates. “Property owners that are living within the town boundaries or elsewhere pay this tax for a specific purpose and are therefore entitled to have voice in the matter,” Mayor Gary Perry noted.

Perry emphasized that the decision on whether or not to continue the current MSD rate must be made prior to the next vote. “Council must hear from you this year in order to set the MSD tax rate,” he said.

Council indicated that they were originally under the impression that any continued phase of beach nourishment would require new public hearings and property owner notification. However, that is not the case.

Perry directed town manager Andy Stewart to ask the North Carolina School of Government what is required to continue an MSD tax for the purpose of maintenance re-nourishment anticipated to occur on a five-year interval.

NCSG responded by stating that once established by a governing body, an MSD will stay in existence until officially abolished by the board. Each year, the board must decide whether or not to levy the MSD tax.

Perry said a hearing regarding the MSD tax can be included in a regular budget hearing. “For that reason, council is taking this extra step to ensure you have the facts and just as important, understand that at the budget hearing, if majorities of property owners do not want beach re-nourishment to occur, you had better tell us,” he added.

Perry made note that the Kitty Hawk council was aware of a prior statement made by financial advisors to the Town of Southern Shores. The advisors said, “once you nourish, you never get out.”

“That is not true,” Perry said. He went on to say that if the Town of Kitty Hawk was not in favor of re-nourishment, council would listen. However, if the town were to choose to stop beach nourishment, it would be highly unlikely that they would be able to nourish again.

Perry wanted to make sure residents were aware that the “already limited amount of money available in the county control occupancy tax would surely be allocated to other places.” No other source of funds is available to the town for such a project.

Council urged residents to send in comments on this topic via email, phone, written correspondence or in-person communication at the budget hearing on June 1. “You do not have to be present to be heard,” Perry said.

Also on the agenda was approval of a grant application from APTIM Engineering for coastal storm damage mitigation funds. The grant has the ability to fund up to $2 million for projects such as beach nourishment.

Perry said he hoped for “a good chance . . . of getting a considerable amount towards future nourishment.” After a unanimous vote, the grant application was approved by council.

Stewart then addressed council with some actions the town has taken in response to COVID-19. He said that Kitty Hawk has “scaled back” on town staff after the possible community spread case.

The community is still allowed in Town Hall, but will be deterred from entering town offices. Stewart said social distancing has been stressed throughout the town. “I think that’s the key,” he said.

For more information or to view the council meeting from April 6, visit the town’s website at www.kittyhawknc.gov.

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