Financial matters come to Dare County commissioners

Published 11:21 am Thursday, July 28, 2022

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Every year, Dare County updates its five-year General Fund projection.

A current plan is an item that rating agencies expect to see.

On July 18, Dare County finance director David Clawson presented the fiscal year 2023 through fiscal year 2027 projection to the county’s Board of Commissioners.

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To make the projection, Clawson uses past data and the fiscal year 2023 budget. The projection is derived from an Excel spreadsheet function that provides a low and high bound.

In his presentation, Clawson said as a result of the recent revenue volatility and increased expenditures the spread between the high and low bounds “got a lot wider.”

“There is not structural budget imbalance,” said Clawson. In the forecast scenario, the fund balance decreases about $9 million. Clawson reported “fund balances decrease in each scenario but not significantly.”

The report also projected the annual debt service as a percentage of consolidated General Fund expenditures. “Debt service is generally fixed and cannot be adjusted in an economic downturn,” reads a presentation slide.

Over the five year period, the projected percentage ranges from a low of 10.9% in fiscal year 2027 to a high of 14.46% in fiscal year 2025.

Rating agencies call 16% very good.

Commissioner Rob Ross commented that the projection was a “fiscally responsible position.”

The commissioners also adopted a capital project ordinance for series 2022C limited obligation bond. The amendment is for preconstruction fee for the manager at risk, Barnhill Contracting Company, for $507,298.

The project is for the various emergency medical service station improvements and the conversion of the Masonic Lodge into a youth center in Manteo.

Some changes have been made in the EMS plan.

Nags Head has notified the county that it “is not prepared to proceed with a project.”

For Kitty Hawk, the plan called for a joint Kitty Hawk police and emergency medical stations. States an EMS projects document: “Town of Kitty Hawk has placed the project on indefinite hold after a cost estimate from the construction manager at risk.”

And the joint project for Rodanthe is on hold at this time.

However, in the Capital Investment Fund, a Dare County only EMS station was added to the S2024 limited obligation bonds at $6.5 million and $7 million was added for a Rodanthe EMS station.

In additional money moves, the commissioners:

– Approved a North Carolina Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant providing $1,395,732 in pass-through funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to elevate 13 homes. Homeowners are paying the required 25% match in the amount of $465,244. County manager Robert L. Outten was authorized to sign the agreement. Four houses are in Hatteras village, two in Frisco, two in Manteo, two in Kitty Hawk, one in Stumpy Point, one in Rodanthe and one in Salvo.

– Authorized Outten as county manager to designate specific properties or spaces as temporarily surplus and to lease such parcels or spaces for a period of up to one year. Outten must notify the commissioners at the first meeting following such lease.

In the consent agenda, the commissioners:

– Approved a service agreement with Damuth Trane, of Chesapeake, Va., to provide a scheduled maintenance program on the rooftop HVAC units and boiler system at the Dare County Animal Shelter beginning July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2027. The contract for four inspections per year starts at $16,416 per year and ends at $19,584.

– Accepted the bid of Basnight Construction Company, Inc. for Hatteras Island waterline relocation project between Avon and Buxton at $638,815.

– Approved a North Carolina Emergency Management Capacity Building Competitive Grant for Dare County emergency management to acquire an unmanned aircraft system drone to improve storm damage assessment capabilities. The drone can be used by other county agencies. The grant provides $15,000 for purchase and $1,200 for training.

– Added Ernie Dabiero, budget analyst/internal auditor, as a deputy finance officer to serve as a backup for personnel action forms and contracts.

– Approved a budget amendment to accept a $600,000 Shallow Draft Navigation Fund Grant for dredging Hatteras Inlet by the Miss Katie. Dare County is responsible for up to $200,000 in matching funds which will come from the Hatteras Inlet Maintenance account.

– Approved a budget amendment to accept funding from North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Division of Soil and Water Conservation to assist with the removal of debris within some of Manteo’s drainage ditch system. The award is in the amount of $35,710.