Pine Knoll Shores debates FEMA funding distribution

Pine Knoll Shores officials are debating using funds o replace the roof on two town buildings, the public safety building, left, and town hall, right. (Mike Shutak photos)

PINE KNOLL SHORES — Town commissioners are debating how to divide Federal Emergency Management Agency funding among several potential projects.

The Pine Knoll Shores Board of Commissioners met Wednesday for its regular meeting via Webinar. During the meeting, the board discussed applying to FEMA for excess allocation for funding leftover from the town’s beach nourishment project. Town officials have $2.6 million left over, and FEMA approval is needed to apply it to any projects other than the beach work.

Town Manager Brian Kramer said staff has compiled a list of projects to use the excess FEMA funds. He said FEMA has a list of approved uses for such money, mostly related to preparation for severe weather and natural disasters.

“We think we’ve put together a solid list that meets FEMA’s requirements,” Mr. Kramer said. “What we’ve heard from FEMA over and over is when they do this, they want to see large, single things, not a laundry list of small ones (for funding).”

Among the projects proposed for FEMA excess funding are replacing the roofs of town hall and the public safety building.

While Mr. Kramer was seeking authorization from the board to apply to FEMA for excess fund allocation, the board instead chose to wait until its regular meeting Wednesday, Dec. 9 to consider taking action. In the meantime, Mayor John Brodman said the board’s finance committee will discuss the matter.

While the board seemed to generally approve of the application, there was some deliberation about how the funds should be distributed. Commissioners Larry Corsello and Ted Goetzinger said they wanted to see an enclosed equipment building funded.

Other proposed projects include a replacement fire ladder truck. Councilman Clark Edwards said the board could use money from a reserve fund it established for fire truck replacement to supplement the purchase, freeing up more FEMA funds for other projects.   

In other news at Wednesday’s meeting, Martin Starnes & Associates accountant Paula Hodges gave the board a report on the town’s fiscal year 2019-20 audit. Ms. Hodges said town officials received an unmodified opinion, the best result possible.

“The audit process went very smoothly, despite the (coronavirus) pandemic,” she said. “Both revenues and expenditures decreased (compared to fiscal year 2018-19); this was due to Hurricane Florence.”

According to Ms. Hodges’ report, the town’s general fund has $4,631,962 in expenditures so far this fiscal year and $4,119,706 in revenue. Both of these are a decrease from the previous fiscal year, which had $5,652,427 in revenue, a decrease of $1,532,721, and $5,396,975 in expenditures, a decrease of $765,013.

This decrease in both is attributed to recovery expenses from Florence in 2018 and FEMA funds provided for those expenses. Town Finance Officer Julie Anderson said town officials are still due some additional funding from FEMA for recovery projects.

Mr. Hodges said ad valorem property tax revenues are down this fiscal year from last, as well. In all, $1,733,179 has been collected, a decrease of $82,581 from the $1,815,760 collected by this time during fiscal year 2018-19. However, due to increased property development, revenue from permits and fees have risen to $649,269 this fiscal year, an increase of $40,841 from the $608,428 collected last fiscal year.

The board seemed pleased overall with the results of the audit.

“I think this shows we’re on some pretty solid footing financially,” Mayor Brodman said.

The following also occurred at Wednesday’s meeting:

  • The board unanimously concurred with the Carteret County Beach Commission’s recommendation to maintain their existing beach nourishment plan, rather than accept a proposed plan with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • The board unanimously scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 9 on a proposed ordinance amendment to create a process for the planning board to replace committee members.
  • The board unanimously went into closed session to consult with the town attorney. After coming back into open session, the board unanimously moved forward against a homeowner for un-permitted vegetation removal violation.
  • Mr. Kramer informed the board clearing of easements has begun for phase two of the town’s stormwater drainage project. Residents in the east-end neighborhood near the project have been sent notification by email.
  • Mr. Kramer informed the board the Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative has delayed trimming trees in the town’s right-of-ways near power lines until December. In all, 96 trees have been identified for trimming, 50 of which will be replaced completely.
  • Mr. Kramer said the town’s waste collection contract will be up for renewal in 2021. The board expressed interest in pursuing Mr. Kramer’s suggestion to hire a Pine Knoll Shores resident with experience in these matters as a consultant to put the contract out to bid.
  • Mr. Kramer informed the board of several capital projects that will be pursued in the late fall, early winter period, including replacing the handicap-accessible stairs on the side of town hall and replacing the public beach access walkway between the Roosevelt Beach and Atlantis subdivisions.
  • Town Clerk Charlie Rocci informed the board staff is looking into improving telecommunications equipment in the town hall boardroom. Staff is seeking to fund the project with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money.
  • The board unanimously approved the consent agenda, including minutes from the Oct. 14 meeting, appointing resident Deb Frisby to the town history committee and re-appointing Michelle Powers to the planning board and Dominick Baccollo and Richard Seale and Arlene Terrell to the board of adjustment.

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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