Cedar Point, other towns to urge Carteret County to change sale tax distribution method

This Cedar Point chart shows how the percentage of sales tax revenues Carteret County’s towns receive would change if the county switched from basing the percentages on property tax levies to population. (Brad Rich screenshot)

CEDAR POINT — Cedar Point Mayor Scott Hatsell and town commissioners agreed Thursday night to ask Carteret County officials to change the way state-shared sales tax revenue is distributed among county municipalities.

During its monthly work session, conducted on Zoom, the board agreed by a 4-0 vote to ask the county to distribute the revenue on a per capita basis, or based on population, instead of based on ad valorem property tax levies, which favor towns with higher property values.

The county receives sales tax revenue from the state, which distributes its revenues among the 100 counties by the ad valorem method. The county keeps by far the largest chunk, then distributes the rest to the towns.

Cedar Point commissioners and the mayor will sign a letter, penned by Town Manager David Rief, asking for the change.

Newport officials have already made the request and Town Manager Bryan Chadwick was at the meeting, as was Cape Carteret Mayor Will Baker, who said he believes his town will support the change, too.

 If the county agrees to the change, it will increase sales tax revenue for some of the mainland towns, although it would decrease accordingly for the tourist-driven Bogue Banks towns, Mr. Rief said.

For example, in 2020 Cedar Point received $112,285 in sales tax revenue, but under a per capita system, it could have gotten $440,000 out of the county’s approximately $30 million.

A switch, Mr. Rief said, “would reduce the disparity in distribution amounts among the towns” and “help offset the burden imposed upon local residents and mainland towns that provide critical infrastructure and otherwise support the seasonal influx of tourists.”

He said Cedar Point and Cape Carteret have become “economic hubs” that support full-time residents of western Carteret County and the tourists who flock to Emerald Isle and the other island towns. But as the resort towns add to their tax rates, he said they gain an outsized proportion of the “sales tax pie.”

When the current system went into effect years ago, he said Carteret County was much different, more rural, so there was less disparity in the sales tax distribution. With Interstate 42 soon to be built to connect the county more directly to inland cities, the manager said in the letter he wrote, it will be increasingly important for mainland towns to add infrastructure to handle growth. But, he said it will become increasingly difficult to do that unless the towns on the mainland get more revenue.

Finally, Mr. Rief said the island towns couldn’t exist as they are without the mainland municipalities. The tourists shop in the mainland towns, and housing has gotten so expensive on Bogue Banks that many staffers in the island towns live on the mainland, he noted.

In short, island towns are “subsidized at the expense of full-time residents,” he concluded.

Mayor Hatsell said he supported asking the county to make the change, but noted it had been tried before, unsuccessfully.

Mayor Pro Tem Pam Castellano agreed, but said “it will be a fight.”

Cape Carteret Mayor Baker said he appreciated Mr. Rief’s time, research and effort to write the letter, and Mr. Chadwick, the Newport town manager, said he appreciated the support from Cedar Point.


Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

(16) comments


This is one of the biggest issues in this county...we are asked to give more $ to the beach towns, yet then charged more and more to park there. The largest part of the county (as I remember) is Newport, then Beaufort, which includes DE. Just look at the disproportionate manner in which the tax $ is distributed and it's no wonder EI is booming and getting updates, as is MHC, which is building that million $$ administrative building. Right now, we are doing what this county always does - spend, spend, spend while the additional $$ from pandemic tourism, pandemic supplements from the govt and then FEMA $ from the hurricanes we have had. We need to be saving for a rainy day as well as planning for future growth wisely and future hurricanes, not overspending on silly things. Look around next time you go to MHC and count how many businesses (and big ones) are sitting there vacant....K mart, Outback, Applebees, Pier One, Makodos....if this area was able to sustain long term tourism, the big box companies would all be here already. If the politicians in this area wanted to attract higher paying jobs, they would be offering more incentives for that type of business to come in (more boat building companies, tech, etc.). They want the status quo. Look who owns all of the land right next to western access in EI where they are developing TH's and businesses...isn't it no wonder that parking prices will go up and access to the beach will be even more limited. I am surprised that no one has mentioned that the access to the beach is limited to the poor and the poor here consists of those workers in the service industries that this county claims to be helping by bringing in even more low wage jobs...

Pee Dee 1907

Just so I am crystal coast clear, (senior clarity moment) when I spend my dollar in Morehead City the county gathers it up, washes it through the magical state revenue machine, and in turns gives a majority of that dollar back to Atlantic Beach where I did NOT spend my money originally so that they can then build a $7M town hall for our beloved tourists to view at sunset? A building, an expense, with my money that doesn't improve our roads, our water or other critical services. This is how my tax dollars are spent? Note to self; invite friends to run for an elected office, on a common-sense serve the people platform. Genius Idea!

Where is the common sense to giving away that dollar to another location that didn't earn the sale? Don't make it government confusing with shifting sands or slight of hand answers. Its pretty darn simple.

How many people live on the beach? Hey Google; there are at most a 1,200 people living in Atlantic Beach, NC and about 3,000 in Cape Carteret. So AB gets most of my dollar while the reset of us drive over potholes on the mainland. Thank You Commissioners we small and insignificant few, seeking mere morsels to serve the island.

No wonder we have no faith in our County Commission; and apparently it takes two small towns with a new manager to raise the issue? You didn't catch this before now? Insert Distraction; Oh wait look away a dredge is needed for the beach! Hey Google, who represents Western Carteret? Title: Commissioner, Robin Comer Phone: 252-725-0548 robin.comer@carteretcountync.gov Address: 322 C-Wood Farms Road, Swansboro, NC 28584. SWANSBORO?!

David M. Rief

For clarification: The County received ~69% of the sales tax revenue in FY 19-20. The pie chart reflects the rough percentage share each town would have received of the remaining ~31% (~$10.8M) distributed to the Towns if the per capita method would have been used instead. The county and each town would have received ~$297.32 per resident within their jurisdiction. Under the current method, four towns received less than $125/resident while four others received more than $550/resident with as much as $3,800/resident for one town.


Ok then, mainland cry babies, let AB keep ALL of its

Occupancy tax money instead of having to fund the whole county. Talk about your taxes going up? You wouldn’t be able to afford to live there.

Pee Dee 1907

Hey Google; what does Carteret's Occupancy Tax pay for, 50% to the Carteret County Tourism Development Authority to promote travel and tourism; 50% to Carteret County for beach nourishment.

Hey Google; does Atlantic Beach, NC get free beach nourishment aka. sand without having to pay for it? YES, Per a longstanding agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which funds dredging to keep the port accessible to large vessels, the town gets the sand free.

Hey Alexa; If I am a mainland cry baby and none of the occupancy tax money supports movinup's argument, then can I afford to live here? YES, he should just ask Google before typing! ;)

David Collins

Good luck with this one folks . Money talks loudly and these comments are just whispers in the breeze .

The Swansboro Post Office serves parts of Carteret County and plenty of folks that do Not live in Swansboro must use it on their mailing address in order to get mail . Been that way for years so don’t be fooled . Physical addresses often differ from the mailing ones .


No Crystal Coast No Tourism that provides approx. 4,000 jobs in the county with an economic impact of $350 million and direct payroll of $58 million, with many small businesses making a living with tourists.

Not sure anyone would come to Carteret County without AB, EI, IB.


What is average salary of someone who works for the small businesses that are tourism related? How come larger corps like Food Lion in EI are allowed to hire students on a travel visa to avoid having to pay their local workers a full time salary? Didn't the tourism board spend a huge chunk of change to promote this area? Why can't the locals park free at the beach since more of their taxes (locally and federally) go to promote it?


Doesn't occupancy tax pay for sand and promotion of tourism ? Mainlanders don't get any of that anyway ?




mpjeep: What makes you think that a redistribution of the sales tax would have any impact on the amount of tourists that come to Carteret County???


Nothing at all makes me think that, Calhoun. My point was no beaches, fewer tourists/sales tax.


Maybe so....but we still over here across the bridge paying sales tax so beach or no beach....so, there's that.

David Collins

Are the beaches not in the county as well ? Thought someone might have moved them when we were not looking . The county benefits from tourism . They benefit from the traffic gridlock and higher prices along with the growing throng that chose to stay and increase the costs of services and feed runaway development . That is quite a range of benefits , isn’t it ?


Maybe all full-time residents of Carteret County should get a pass to park for free. I know I live on AB and my reentry pass allows me to park for free.



Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.