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Kitty Hawk has budget discussion

During a recessed Kitty Hawk Town Council meeting in April, town manager Andy Stewart presented a proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget for review and discussion.

According to Stewart, the $10,168,483 balanced budget has 4 percent more in revenues over the previous budget without transfers to or from the unrestricted fund. He explained that although the bridge closure affected Kitty Hawk, once it opened, the Outer Banks was a very desirable place to be. With less of a reduction in tourism than anticipated, beach living and increased real estate values have become a new normal. The result is a more predictable financial and economic impact than for the previous budget.

Among the items included in the budget are funding for a two percent pay increase for town employees, a new police and fire substation, beach nourishment and a new fire truck. The budget does not include a tax increase nor does it add any new employee positions.

The proposed budget does, however, create a new deputy fire chief/inspector position to replace the current fire inspector/code enforcement position. Some inspection and enforcement duties under the current position will continue under fire department review with CAMA related duties going to the Planning Department. According to Rob Testerman, director of planning and inspections, some Planning Department personnel are already trained and in some cases doing the administrative work involved, so there should be no change in the number of positions involved.

Taking a look at a new police, fire and EMS substation, Stewart said the project on town-owned property along US 158 is anticipated to run in the neighborhood of $3.5 million depending on final design and construction costs.

The budget proposes using $2,000,000 in cash from the Capital Reserve Fund and financing $1.5 million with $100,000 budgeted as an annual expense until the debt service is satisfied. Dare County has agreed to pay a portion of construction costs with a long term agreement to share in the future maintenance costs. Work could begin in 2021 with a completion date to be determined once a contractor is secured.

Although the beach renourishment project will not take place until 2022, the Municipal Service District and town-wide dedication is expected to remain in place for funding with the total cost of the renourishment project is expected to run $10,156,635.

Stewart said Dare County occupancy taxes should provide $3,620,071 and with a North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Grant taking care of $1,408,247 Kitty Hawk will be responsible for the remaining $5,128,317 balance.

According to Stewart, engineering and design work for the project is currently underway with formal bids for the project to occur later this year. The budget continues to dedicate 0.035 cents of the 0.30 cents town wide tax to the beach nourishment project. The dedication has also been distributed proportionately and calculated based on a revised revenue neutral tax rate with properties located in the Municipal Service District continuing to pay an additional .10 cents restricted specifically for beach nourishment.

Also earmarked in the budget is $500,000 for a new fire truck purchase.

Stewart said the budget maintains an emergency fund of $3,500,000 in accordance with town policy and there should be approximately $1,500,000 of unrestricted funds at the end of the proposed budget year.

Stewart is expected to file a final draft of the budget in May with a public hearing on the budget scheduled for June 7.

In other budget-related business, council voted to discontinue a petty leave policy with similar leave time transferred to vacation time, a reclassification for several police and fire positions to expand department career ladders, the re-designation of a code enforcement officer/fire inspector position, a Planning Department review of town fees charged and authorizing an engineering study to identify possible parking places on the town-owned streets of Hawk, Bleriot, Maynard, Balchen, Bennett, Byrd and Hurdle.

The next Kitty Hawk Town Council meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Monday, May 3.

KITTY HAWK

Councilman David Hines recommended planning staff review the amount charged for building permits and other town fees to make sure they are up to date. Philip S. Ruckle Jr. photo

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