Dare commissioners propel projects forward

Published 9:21 am Sunday, January 15, 2023

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The Dare County Board of Commissioners approved contracts, adopted a resolution, authorized a sand search project and adopted budget amendments at its Jan. 3, 2023 regular meeting.

Two actions deal with mitigating storm damage.

Dare County received three grants from North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The grants address coastal storm damage mitigation.

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The first grant from the department is $1 million for an offshore sand search to identify future borrow pit areas of beach quality sand. The grant is associated with the ongoing beach nourishment projects in the northern beaches – specifically Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills – and is aimed at finding sand for the next 30 years.

Dare County will add $1 million from the fund balance in the Beach Nourishment Fund.

Dare’s commissioners approved the contract with Department of Environmental Quality for this project and authorized the county manager to sign.

As the next step, the commissioners approved a proposal with Coastal Protection Engineering to do the sand search over two years at a not-to-exceed price of $2 million. The commissioners adopted a budget amendment for the grant.

The county also received state Department of Environmental Quality grants for expenses incurred during the Avon and Buxton beach nourishment projects completed this summer.

Only expenses in ongoing planned projects incurred after July 1, 2022 could qualify for these coastal storm damage mitigation grants. The total cost of the Avon project was $11,153,278. The Department of Environmental Quality grant was $5,576,639.

For the Buxton project, which totaled $17,000,259, the department’s grant is $1,557,607.

Dare’s commissioners approved the contract with Department of Environmental Quality for these project grants and authorized the county manager to sign.

Another grant regarding beach nourishment has been received from the state’s Division of Coastal Management, according to a budget amendment for the project.

The Division of Coastal Management provided a $25,000 grant for a beach, shoreline and water management project. Dare’s project consists of “re-establishing control and stations for a systematic survey along the Rodanthe beach to update the 2013 Feasibility Report. Topographic and bathymetric data will be used to determine minimum beach volume necessary for 5 years of storm protection and expected costs.” The state provides a 75% match. Dare County provides $8,335 from fund balance for the update work.

County manager Robert L. Outten was authorized to sign a contract for the grant. Outten told the commissioners he anticipates the work will be finished by the end of summer 2023.

In another long-sought project, the commissioners adopted a resolution supporting an application for a NCDOT Feasibility Study Grant for a paved pathway on Airport Road on Roanoke Island.

Such a proposed pathway was included in the Albemarle Regional Bicycle Plan and the 2015 Dar County Comprehensive Transportation Plan. In 2019, the commissioners adopted another resolution supporting a multi-use pathway along Airport Road.

Barton Grover, Grants and Waterways administrator, reported the grant from NCDOT’s Integrated Mobility Division does not require a local match, unlike previous NCDOT feasibility studies.

Dare County commissioners have authorized replacements or upgrades on all Emergency Medical Services stations in the County.

EMS Station 1 is in Kill Devil Hills. Dare County and the Town of Kill Devil Hills are jointly building a replacement facility for Dare’s Emergency Medical Services and the town’s fire department.

Kill Devil Hills requested that in the final plan the fire station and the EMS station flip flop sides. The architectural fee for the flip is $61,000 plus travel expense of $10,000 totaling $71,000 for which the Dare commissioners adopted a capital project ordinance amendment.

Dare’s commissioners adopted three more budget amendments:

– The local current expense for Dare County Schools was calculated using estimates supplied by North Carolina. The state’s budget was enacted after Dare County passed its budget. Two estimates were higher in the state budget. In the state budget, employees received a 4% cost of living adjustment; the estimate was 2%. The state’s retirement system rate was passed at 24.5%; the estimate used was 24.19%.

Dare’s commissioners sent $199,775 in additional funding to Dare County Schools for this year’s operating funding.

The 2022 Fiscal Year Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and Audit reports that Dare County delivers the highest amount of local current expense school funding in the state, a position it has held in 19 of the last 20 years. Orange County edged out Dare in a recent year.

– Dare County previously applied to the Department of Environmental Quality for cost share for improvements to the Stumpy Point dredge disposal site. The funding will be used to create capacity for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fiscal Year 2024 Dredging Project to deepen the emergency ferry channel. Coastal Protection Engineering is proposed to provide administrative and engineering services for the project. A budget amendment shows the state’s grant at $626,250, but expenditures at $835,000. The additional funds come from reserve. Outten was authorized to negotiate a contract with Coastal Protection Engineering. Commissioners approved the budget amendment in the consent agenda.

– An adopted budget amendment closed out the county’s transportation grants under the CARES Act of 2020 (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) by transferring $511,072 to the General Fund to absorb $499,573 in county Transportation Department operating costs and $11,499 in employee salaries and benefits.