Dare commissioners take financial action

Published 11:32 am Monday, September 18, 2023

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Dare County tax collector Becky Huff and her staff had collected $66,378,132.84 in real estate and personal property taxes as of June 30, 2023. That is a 99.67% collection rate.

Huff presented her annual report at the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting on Sept. 6, 2023.

Dare County’s tax collection unit also collects taxes for five of the county’s six municipalities.

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Huff reported that:

Duck taxpayers sent the town $4,103,248.50 for a collection rate of 99.96%. For the beach nourishment tax, taxpayers paid $1,008,653.15 or 99.96%.

Southern Shores taxpayers sent the town $3,810,242.21 for a collection rate of 99.94%. For the beach nourishment tax, taxpayers paid $50,209.59 or 99.97%.

Kitty Hawk taxpayers sent the town $4,354,281.61 for a collection rate of 99.77%. For the beach nourishment tax, taxpayers paid $538,821.71 or 99.79%.

Kill Devil Hills taxpayers sent the town $9,387,785.23 for a collection rate of 99.73%. For the beach nourishment tax, taxpayers paid $504,669.26 or 100%.

Manteo taxpayers sent the town $2,262,291.30 for a collection rate of 99.49%.

Dare County commissioners charged the tax collector to begin collection of taxes on the budgeted valuation of $16,710,404,439 and a combined town and county levy of $105,328,419.40.

At the recommendation of the Oregon Inlet Task Force, the commissioners approved amendments to the dredge work plan and forgivable loan agreement between the county and EJE Dredging Service, LLC for the Miss Katie. The dredging company requested the changes, which upped the cost to $19.58 per cubic yard for dredged material loaded from inside the Oregon Inlet bar and placed in a permitted disposal area outside the bar and for material removed from Hatteras Inlet and moved to a permitted disposal area. A $14.33 per cubic yard cost remains in place.

The rates are deemed base rates. A discounted rate is a minimum of $1.50 per cubic yard less than applicable base rate. The base rate will adjust up and down by the same percentage as the average percentage change in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers daily rate for the Dredge Murden.

Another amendment permits EJE Dredging to go to another repair facility within Dare other than the NCDOT ferry division’s dry dock in Manns Harbor.

It’s time to update the software used by the county’s finance department to do budget work. The current system was purchased 20 years ago. The accounts and funds have grown.

The existing budget process uses a multitude of programs: Tyler/MUNIS, Laserfiche, Google web services, multiple Excel workbooks and Word, making the current budget and capital improvement processing and preparation “very inefficient.”

The ClearGov contract was approved by the commissioners. Implementation will be $11,700. The annual fee for year one is $50,375 with a 3% increase for year two and a 6% increase for year three. No changes in the county’s budget are required.

Dare’s commissioners have changed the schedule for capital projects, resulting in the need for an amendment to the Capital Project Ordinance for Phase 1, 2 and 3 for Emergency Medical Services projects. The total amount for each of the current projects does not change, states the agenda book information. Changes are made to Phase 2. Phase 3 is changed to zero. The board approved the amendment to the capital project ordinance.

The board also approved the professional services agreement with Oakley-Collier Architects for $500,000 for the new construction of the Kitty Hawk Emergency Medical Services station. These professional services will include all architectural and engineering services, site surveying, reporting and construction administration.

Dare’s commissioners adopted a budget amendment for the General Fund and a capital project ordinance for the School Capital Project Fund. The financial moves covered the cost of a remediation and HVAC contract for First Flight Elementary and First Flight Middle schools.

The cost of the mold remediation in the two schools was $932,754, which is based on a square foot charge.

Funds for the close to million-dollar project came from the General Fund’s unassigned fund balance. At the start of the budget year, that fund balance was $11 million. Since the start of the new fiscal year, the commissioners have allocated $1 million to teacher housing with the Dare Education Foundation and $6 million to the five-year capital improvements plan. The emergency work at the two schools will come from the remaining $4 million in the unassigned fund balance.

The commissioners authorized withdrawal of $50,000 from the county’s state lottery fund account. The funds will be used to pay $42,800 to Oakley Collier Architects to perform a needs assessment and cost estimate for the early college buildings at the old College of The Albemarle Russell Twiford campus site.

Commissioners approved a contract with Quible and Associates for engineering services for the Skyco nano-filtration expansion project. The fee is $28,800. The approval was accomplished under the Mini-Brooks Act, permitting contract approval for projects under $50,000.