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Commissioners receive tax report and take money actions

At the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting Aug. 17, commissioners heard the annual tax settlement report and decided other money matters.

County manager Robert L. Outten recommended that Hosea Wilson III be appointed tax assessor and Becky Huff be reappointed tax collector for the county. Both were sworn in for four year terms.

Huff presented her settlement for the 2019 tax year. As of June 30, 2020, Huff and her staff had collected 99.24% of the real estate and personal property tax levy, or $61,228,827.25. The percentage continues to go up and now stands at 99.41%.

Huff made COVID-19 adjustments. She suspended enforced collections for about eight weeks.

With extension of filing deadlines for listing forms, Dare County tax bills are delayed. Huff told the commissioners that tax bills will be mailed during the last week of August. The deadline to pay without interest is Jan. 5, 2021.

She expects the charge to collect the taxes to be on the Sept. 8 consent agenda.

Huff told the commissioners that AirBnB and Vacation Rentals by Owner are now collecting and submitting occupancy taxes.

Dare County tax bills can now be received online and occupancy and beverage taxes can be paid online. This fiscal year, Zacchaeus Legal Services collected $269,327.79 for tax bills delinquent at least two years. Since 2014, Zacchaeus has collected $2,179,054.12.

In another money matter, the commissioners established a budget for a Help American Vote Act grant with pass-through federal CARES act funds. The grant totals $76,351. Eligible expenditures must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020.

In the consent agenda, the commissioners authorized the county manager to execute interlocal agreements with Dare County municipalities to handle 25% of COVID-19 grant monies assigned to the towns.

The commissioners approved a contract increase request of $24,865 from the architect for the Animal Shelter project, Waller Todd Sadler. “The request is justified as the increase is for $19,640 for additional construction administration and for $5,225 for subcontract engineer increases from owner requested design changes for cost reductions,” states the agenda note.

The owner’s contingency reduces to $78,861. The Whiting Turner construction contract is currently $103,414 under budget, reports the agenda item.

The county’s Public Health Division has received $162,879 in COVID-19 state and federal funds. The commissioners approved the budget amendment which will fund salary and benefits of current registered nurses, interpreters and contact tracers and a part-time temporary registered nurse and a part-time temporary interpreter. Funding will also to cover county cell phone costs used by the contact tracers and to purchase supplies through the end of the fiscal year.

Commissioner Rob Ross brought a request from GEM Adult Day Services, Inc. to the commissioners. GEM has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and is in need of $10,000 in financial assistance in order to continue to provide services.

The commissioners approved a $10,000 one-time grant and authorized the county manager and finance director “to execute the required budget amendment from contingency or other appropriate fund and to require GEM to abide by all county policies related to funding.”

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