The credibility of the financial consultant the Town of Southern Shores has hired to advise it about a potential $16 million beach nourishment project came into question at last night’s Kitty Hawk Town Council meeting.
In the course of discussing possible re-nourishment of Kitty Hawk’s beaches, Mayor Gary Perry said, “I am aware of a recent statement by the financial gurus advising the Town of Southern Shores, stating that once you nourish [the beaches], you never get out.
“That is not true,” Mayor Perry emphasized.” If a majority of Kitty Hawk property owners told this Council to stop taxing for re-nourishment, we must listen.”
Southern Shores has hired DEC Associates of Charlotte, whose principals are the father-son team of Doug and Andrew Carter, to provide it with financial advice.
Mayor Tom Bennett and other members of the Southern Shores Town Council are scheduled in a 3:30 p.m. meeting today to consider data prepared by those “gurus,” and, possibly, to approve a 2022 beach nourishment project based on their numbers.
Mayor Perry sought last night in a prepared statement to clarify Kitty Hawk’s responsibilities in continuing the oceanfront/oceanside municipal service district it established in order to finance its beach nourishment project, which was completed in 2017.
(The Beacon is uncertain how much property was included in Kitty Hawk’s principal MSD, which was the Mayor’s focus. A second “town-wide” MSD was also designated.)
Earlier in the meeting, the Mayor said that the Kitty Hawk Town Council had previously informed property owners incorrectly that new public hearings and new property-owner notifications would be required to continue the MSDs.
Having subsequently learned from the University of North Carolina School of Government that MSDs remain in existence until they are abolished, the Mayor exhorted property owners that “The Council must hear from you this year in order to set the MSD tax rate.”
A budget hearing has been scheduled June 1.
Mayor Perry further stressed: “If majorities of property owners do not want beach re-nourishment to occur, you had better tell us. Otherwise, I would expect Council to continue the current MSD tax rate.”
In contrast to DEC Associates’ admonition that “once you nourish, you never get out”—which is an accurate statement of advice the Carters have given the Southern Shores Town Council—Mayor Perry said it was more accurate to state: “Once out, never back.”
Mayor Perry said he thought Dare County would “surely” allocate the limited funding it has available for beach nourishment “to other places,” if Kitty Hawk were to “back out.” After he said this, a slide was projected on an overhead screen reading:
“Once out, extremely unlikely to ever be able to nourish Kitty Hawk beaches again.”
The Beacon would strongly urge the Mayor and Town Manager Andy Stewart to consult with Dare County Manager/Attorney Bobby Outten before reaching such a conclusion.
Mr. Outten has informed The Beacon, as well as Southern Shores officials and residents at a public meeting, that the County preserves monies in its Beach Nourishment Fund to ensure that it can contribute to maintenance of completed beach nourishment projects—whether the maintenance is done at five-year intervals or not.
It is not in Dare County’s interests to let the Kitty Hawk beaches decline.
Eight years lapsed between the Town of Nags Head’s 2011 beach nourishment project and its first maintenance. The Town of Kitty Hawk is not required to re-nourish in 2022, if it chooses not to.
In fact, Mr. Outten told The Beacon last December that the Town of Kill Devil Hills was seeking to delay its re-nourishment past 2022. (See The Beacon, 12/14/20)
It has long been an expressed assumption by the Southern Shores Town Council that the considerable set-up costs for Southern Shores’ new beach nourishment project would be shared by the towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills because they would be doing re-nourishment at the same time.
After last night’s meeting, The Beacon has to wonder if there has been any communication between Southern Shores and Kitty Hawk, either through town managers or mayors, that confirms this assumption. Or with Kill Devil Hills, for that matter.
The Kitty Hawk Town Council meeting lasted less than 15 minutes and is available for viewing through the Town’s website.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 4/7/20