CAPE CARTERET — Town commissioners voted 4-1 Monday night to adopt a budget amendment to fund Cape Carteret’s share of a county-led project to dredge a silted arm of Deer Creek.
The action came during the panel’s monthly meeting conducted via GoToMeeting.
Commissioner Mike King was the lone opposition to the amendment, which funds a $17,500 contribution to the project. Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, has estimated the project will cost $210,000. The state will pay two-thirds of the cost, or $140,000. The county will pay $35,000, and property owners along the arm of the creek that runs east of Yaupon Drive will pay the remaining $17,500. All property owners have committed to paying an average of about $550 apiece.
Mr. King said he could not support the town subsidizing a dredging project for “people who are able to afford it” on their own. People who live along other waterways in town have paid full cost on their own for dredging by private companies, he added, and he has participated in those efforts three times.
Commissioner Steve Martin, who made the successful motion to move ahead with town participation, disagreed.
“This is a chance to show we are willing to help our neighbors,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Although Mr. King has said he believes funding the work sets a precedent, Commissioner Don Miller disagreed, saying just because the town participates once doesn’t obligate it to do so again.
“I’m excited to see it moving forward,” added Commissioner Jeff Waters.
Town Manager Zach Steffey told the board the property owners will gather their share of the funds and write a check to the county or the town. Some of them, he said, have indicated they are willing to pay “more than their fair share,” while others have committed to contributing “specific amounts.”
The town’s share, he said, will come from the undesignated fund balance in the 2020-21 budget.
Mr. Rudolph earlier this month said he hopes the project will begin in December and be complete in April. It’s part of a larger effort that includes dredging Old Ferry Channel in Bogue Sound between Cape Carteret and Emerald Isle. The whole project is expected to cost about $1 million, with state contributing two-thirds of the money from its Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund, which gets revenue from fees for boat titles and boat fuel tax.
Commissioners have strongly supported dredging Old Ferry Channel, which used to serve as the main channel to move between the mainland Bogue Banks in the area. Except for Mr. King, they’ve been equally supportive of the Deer Creek project, largely because of a siltation problem that increased when a stormwater management project constructed by the N.C. Coastal Federation in 2016 failed during and after Hurricane Florence’s torrential rains in September 2018.
The flooding rains eroded a berm that separated two stretches of engineered wetlands, one at Cape Carteret Baptist Church and the other at the adjacent Cape Carteret Presbyterian Church on Highway 24. The federation, an environmental group based in Ocean, has acknowledged the problem and is looking for funds to fix the issue.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.