Kitty Hawk looks at capital improvements

Published 11:55 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

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Discussions during a January 31 capital improvements and budget workshop in Kitty Hawk focused on a new police department building and beach parking improvements.

With an anticipated total cost of $8,500,000, construction of a new police department building with room for fire and EMS substations is by far the largest project identified within the town’s capital plan. Flooding at the current police department location on West Kitty Hawk Road has made town owned property fronting US 158 near Bennett Street a more desirable site.

During a review of project funding options, town manager Andy Stewart advised that the Town of Kitty Hawk’s share of the project is around $6,000,000 but an actual cost would not be established until a construction manager is hired to control costs and ensure timely construction of the building.

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During the funding discussion, Town Council decided not to finance the new building and instead fund the project with cash reserves.

According to Stewart, the town established a reserve fund in 2019 which, with the help of increased revenues and budget savings, has grown to $3,200,000. The remaining funds are anticipated to come from the town’s general fund reserve account and, if additional funds are needed, the town could borrow from an emergency reserve which currently has a $3,500,000 balance.

Stewart estimated by not financing and instead paying for the project with reserves there would be a savings of approximately $1,700,000 in interest payments.

“I think previous Town Council members and town staff should be commended for keeping the town in a strong financial position and that the town’s residents are fortunate to be in this position to fund a project of this magnitude with funds the town has accumulated overtime,” said council member Jeff Pruitt. “The current police department floods and is useless during times when we need our emergency personnel the most and the building is beyond its useful life.”

Another major council topic for the day included a discussion on beach parking improvements. Some improvements include the use of permeable pavement and stripped parking spaces on several streets that currently accommodate beach parking. Most rights-of-way being considered include areas between Lindberg Avenue and N.C. 12 on Balchen St., Bleriot St., Luke St., Maynard St. and Tateway Rd.

Stewart said parking improvements could be funded using a portion of the $1,050,000 the town received through the American Rescue Recovery Act Funds.

“The Town of Kitty Hawk is very fortunate that it has been the beneficiary of revenue increases related to tourism,” explained Stewart. “Specifically it has been the occupancy tax and sale tax revenues over the past several years and those funds are going to help the town tackle some very large and beneficial projects for our residents in the upcoming year.”

He went on to say, however, that there may be temporary spikes in revenues and that the operating budget that will be presented in April would remain conservative in projecting revenues to avoid any shortfall should something happen to the economy.

“I am in full agreement with the philosophy,” offered council member David Hines. “Because the last thing we as a board want to do is raise taxes.”

Advising that he was in agreement with Hines, Mayor Craig Garriss was also complimentary of the job town staff has done to formulate a plan to accomplish projects while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers and residents.

The new budget year begins July 1, 2022.