Two Dare building projects advance

Published 6:36 am Monday, February 6, 2023

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Two building projects will move from Dare County’s Capital Improvement Project Committee to the Board of Commissioners for the February 6, 2023 agenda.

On January 24, the committee voted to send the new Southern Shores Emergency Medical Services building and the new Dare Medflight hangar and living quarters forward. The two projects are in Phase I of the county’s capital improvement plan.

The Kill Devil Hills partnership project is also in Phase I. However, the lease between Dare County and the town is not in place. Bids were due Jan. 31.

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Committee discussion was not upbeat.

Barnhill Contracting Company, the county’s construction manager, reported that bid overages were about 9% – or $1,305,404 – over the company’s Sept. 2, 2022 estimate. The total cost for the two projects is now $15,177,017.

The financial model for the Capital Investment Fund does not work going forward into Phase II.

Several options were outlined.

The plan impact is about when project would be built, meaning the plan can be stretched out to seven years, for instance. Big building projects can be reshuffled to fit available financing. The project list also includes multiple “pay as you go” projects, which can be rescheduled.

The county’s General Fund finished the last fiscal year with a sizeable fund balance, some of which can be transferred to the Capital Investment Fund. The General Fund already budgets $10.4 million for the Investment Fund, which also receives revenue from the volatile land transfer tax collection.

The committee took up a request from the Dare County Tourism Board, which asked the county to finance the construction of the Event Center. The Tourism Board cannot, by statute, borrow money.

County manager Robert L. Outten announced immediately, “it’s a loser … on a cash flow basis.” He reported that Tourism Board estimated construction costs at $22 million. Outten said $30 million is more likely. The Tourism Board will cover operating costs and will repay the county over 30 years.

Board Chairman Robert. L. Woodard opined “this doesn’t outweigh” other projects.

Commissioner Rob Ross said, “it’s a question of capacity.”

Woodard said he wanted to see what happens to the five-year program with the $30 million worked in.

At the end of the committee meeting, Dustin Peele, Dare County special projects and procurement manager, updated the committee on various projects underway. For example, the plan for the Dare County Youth Center now has a 6-12 roof pitch. The Town of Manteo asked the county to consider the change.

He is also monitoring projects at the Kitty Hawk Elementary ballfield, lighting at First Flight Middle School, Walker Park improvement which is on budget, Roanoke Island drainage project where the Dare County side is completed, Hazard Mitigation Grant plan, the disaster debris contract and the large item pickup.