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Southern Shores moves toward decision on beach nourishment

The monthly Southern Shores Town Council meeting took place on May 5 at 5:30 p.m. Council members met, while maintaining social distance, at the Pitts Center to receive updates on recycling, beach nourishment and the fiscal year 2020/2021 budget.

Wes Haskett, interim town manager, reported that the proposed 2020/2010 budget was filed on May 5 with the town clerk. It was made available to the public on May 6.

After utilizing around $662,000 in funds for capital improvement to balance the budget, there was no tax increase. Council will amend and/or adopt the budget at their June 1 meeting.

Haskett then indicated a potential budget amendment for the current year’s budget regarding beach nourishment. The chosen coastal engineering firm APTIM identified three tasks that were needed to move forward with the proposed beach nourishment projects.

These tasks included a $17,000 beach profile data acquisition, an $18,000 beach profile analysis and report for 2020 and a $12,000 inter-agency coordination and permitting fee.

The remaining budgeted funds would cover the $17,000 and Haskett said the beach profile analysis would not be done prior to June 30, so those funds were withdrawn from the request for now.

The $12,000 would be added as a new line item, “beach nourishment permit.” Councilman Jim Conners made a motion to approve the new line item, but discussion followed.

Councilman Matt Neal noted that it was time to make a final decision on whether the town was going to partake in beach nourishment or not. “I’d rather stop piecemealing this,” he said.

After some back and forth about how to involve the public in a beach nourishment discussion prior to making a decision, the council decided to turn to Haskett and staff for ideas on public participation without having an in-person mass gathering.

Haskett agreed to bring forth possible ideas at their budget workshop meeting on May 19, with the idea that council will then have a final discussion regarding the project on June 1 after surveying and receiving feedback from town residents.

The budget amendment was then approved after a unanimous vote.

The other major update from Haskett was taking another look at the town’s recycling program. After speaking with the president of Recycling & Disposal Solutions (RDS), Haskett said their originally-proposed contract had some flexibility.

Southern Shores debated entering a contract with RDS, a recycling facility in Portsmouth, Va., at their budget workshop meeting in April. Their concerns at the time were the cost for contaminated materials and contract length.

RDS has since brought their threshold for unacceptable materials from 12% to 18% and agreed to accept a one- to two-year contract with the option of renewing for five years after.

Because RDS will only process materials, not collect, two contracts would need to be made: one with RDS and one with the current collector, Bay Disposal. A grand total of about $195,000 would be the annual cost to the town if they went this route, including the processing of glass.

Without glass involved, the cost annually would decrease to around $190,000 and a little less than $6.50 per household.

Mayor Tom Bennett felt that “the cost differential is not a huge obstacle.” Conners voiced that he would rather switch to a true means of recycling, but contractually wanted to keep the town’s best interests in mind if they were to sign on with RDS.

Town attorney Ben Gallop recommended council direct Haskett to negotiate with RDS for the best possible contract while Gallop addressed the contract provisions. Once that is complete, then have it brought back to council for further deliberation.

Neal noted that an educational campaign would be beneficial for visitors if and when recycling program was pursued. Morey added that the contract should reflect the ability to negotiate price as time goes on.

Haskett mentioned that Dare County had offered to provide a receptacle for glass collection if the town chose to pay for one. This option would come into play if the town chose to forgo glass processing in the contract with RDS, but would require finding a place to put the receptacle and hiring an attendant.

Conners made a motion to authorize Haskett and Gallop to work together to negotiate with RDS and present the findings at their meeting in June and all were in favor.

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