The Town Council will decide at its June 1 meeting whether to budget $19,500 in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, for three trial no-left-turn weekends this summer.
The Council’s meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. next Monday in the Pitts Center, will feature two public hearings, one on the new flood maps and updating the Town Code flood damage prevention ordinance and the other on the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget, which does not currently include funding for the no-left-turn weekends.
A majority of the Council declined to allocate the funding for the cut-through traffic-control measure during its April 21 budget meeting because of COVID-19-related concerns about both an anticipated revenue shortfall and an anticipated drop-off in vacationer traffic.
The Council would like to conduct a vehicle count on town roadways over the weekends that the left turn from U.S. Highway 158-east, north on to South Dogwood Trail, is prohibited. The majority did not believe in April that the traffic this summer in Southern Shores would be representative of typical summer-weekend traffic.
Town Councilman Matt Neal, who is one of the Town Council co-sponsors of the citizens’ committee to address cut-through traffic, wisely suggested delaying a vote on the no-left-turn funding until June 1. Because of COVID-19, the citizens’ committee, chaired by homeowner Tommy Karole, never met to vote on a formal recommendation.
If the rentals and traffic in Southern Shores for the Memorial Day weekend and this week are any indication, The Beacon believes vacationers will be coming in droves to the Outer Banks, not staying away.
Traditionally, Memorial Day is not a big summer beach holiday, but we saw traffic backups heading north to Corolla on N.C. Hwy. 12 over the weekend and backups in Kitty Hawk Monday on U.S. Hwy. 158 as vacationers departed. There was a noticeable increase in cut-through traffic, as well.
You will have an opportunity to express your opinion on the no-left-turn funding during the public hearing about the proposed 2020-21 budget or in public comments at the June 1 meeting.
There is no time limitation on remarks given during a public hearing, although speakers are asked to be as concise as possible. Public comments outside of a hearing must be kept to three minutes.
You may submit your remarks to Town Clerk Sheila Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org. before the meeting; they will be read aloud by a Council member at the appropriate time. You also may speak during the meeting through Zoom videoconferencing by requesting time in a chat message to Ms. Kane.
If you email Ms. Kane, be sure to indicate in the subject matter line: “Southern Shores Town Council Meeting June 1, 2020—Budget Public Hearing comments” or alternatively, “Southern Shores Town Council Meeting June 1, 2020—Public Comments.”
For the June 1 meeting agenda, see https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Agendas_2020-06-01.pdf
PROPOSED FY 2020-21 BUDGET
The proposed FY 2020-21 budget, prepared by Interim Town Manager Wes Haskett and Finance Officer Bonnie Swain, is balanced at $5,908,243. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects, Mr. Haskett and Ms. Swain reduced anticipated revenues for occupancy, sales, and land-transfer tax revenues.
Mr. Haskett explains in a very short budget message how he compiled the figures for the proposed budget.
Although Mr. Haskett writes that he was directed by the Town Council to use the $662,340 “that has traditionally been allocated to fund street projects . . . to offset the anticipated loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he does not indicate, for easy reference, how much money was offset.
The answer is $463,581.
It is a safe assumption that if the Council approves the $19,500 funding for the three no-left turn weekends—an estimated $6,500 per weekend—it would appropriate this money from the remaining $198,759 infrastructure-project budget.
It may be a distinction without a difference, but it is imprecise to say that the Town has “traditionally” allocated $662,340 to fund street projects. The amount set aside for “infrastructure projects,” an item that is included in the budget for “Streets, Bridges, Beaches, and Canals,” is derived from appropriating five cents from the then-current real-estate property tax rate.
See the proposed FY 2019-20 budget for an explanation at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/FY-19-20-MANAGERS-PROPOSED-OPERATING-BUDGET-1.pdf.
In FY 2020-21, the proposed tax rate was set at 19.58 cents per $100/property value, which is the computed post-reappraisal revenue-neutral tax rate. In FY 2019-20, the tax rate was 22.0 cents per $100/value.
For Mr. Haskett’s budget message and the proposed FY 2020-21 budget, see https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/town-government/administration/public-documents/budget-fy-2020-2021-filed-with-the-clerk/
The Town Council must adopt a FY 2020-21 budget by June 30.
The Beacon covered the Council’s April 21 budget meeting in three postings: 4/21/20, 4/25/20, and 4/27/20.
COVID-19 UPDATE; BULK-TRASH PICKUP
Please see the breaking-news item we posted earlier today about the drive-thru testing that will be available to permanent Dare County residents on June 2 in Nags Head.
The Beacon is taking a break this week. We will resume full coverage of the latest COVID-19 news on the weekend. So far, Dare County is holding steady at 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
In the meantime, if you would like to keep up with the NCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard numbers, the Phase Two scofflaws in the state, and the pressure by President Trump on Governor Roy Cooper to allow thousands to meet in Charlotte in August without observing infection-control measures, we refer you to The Raleigh News & Observer, which is providing excellent daily coverage.
Today, North Carolina hit a new high in COVID-19 hospitalizations with 702, a leap of 81 over the previous day’s count. Hospitalizations statewide have been steadily increasing since May 16.
(We also pass on that Governor Ralph Northam is imposing Friday a face-covering requirement in Virginia that would require people to wear a face mask or covering in enclosed spaces, such as retail stores, that are open to the public. This action could very well help the Outer Banks, since many of our visitors are from Virginia, and, anecdotally speaking, we perceive and hear that our visitors are lax about wearing face coverings. In our experience, they aren’t great about social distancing and observing one-way grocery-store aisles, either.)
We will post the June 1 Town Council meeting packet soon after it is available. We are still waiting for the May 19 meeting video to be posted—a major oversight that we hope the Town Clerk will rectify upon seeing or hearing about this post.
It is important that property owners have access to the Town Council’s discussion on beach nourishment at its May 19 workshop. It is informational background for the town-wide beach nourishment mailer, which will be soliciting property owners’ opinions, and the June 16 public hearing, which we will address again.
THIS SATURDAY, DON’T FORGET: The bulk-trash pickup is this Saturday. The Town asks that you have your bulk waste at the roadside by 5 a.m. that morning. Lumber and other building materials will not be picked up, nor will televisions. We have seen both at the roadside. They will be there Sunday, too. We can promise you that.
We would suggest that you take your old televisions to the Kitty Hawk/Dare County Recycling Center, at 4190 Bob Perry Rd., in Kitty Hawk.
The recycling center accepts televisions and other white goods, but you may need to obtain a paid permit from the Town of Southern Shores to dispose of your appliances there. Residents of Kitty Hawk can dispose of white goods for free, without a permit. I have disposed of electronic equipment (e.g., laptops, VCRs) at the recycling center that was deemed by the attendant not to require a permit.
The recycling center is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. See https://www.kittyhawknc.gov/departments-and-services/public-works/recycling/.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/27/20