Atlantic Beach Town Council considers property tax rate increase

Thomas Construction Group crews work Friday at the site of the future Atlantic Beach public safety and administration complex. The town council is considering a property tax increase to pay the debt service on the new facility. (Mike Shutak photo)

ATLANTIC BEACH — Town officials are considering a property tax rate increase of up to 2 cents to pay for the new public safety and administration complex under construction.

The Atlantic Beach Town Council met Thursday for its regular work session at the town hall meeting room on West Fort Macon Road, as well as online via Zoom. During the meeting, the council received a summary on the fiscal year 2021-22 draft budget.

The draft indicates a total budget of $8,977,590, an increase of $624,393 over the current fiscal year’s budget of $8,353,197. A large part of the increase is due to the debt service for the public safety and administration complex under construction at the site of the former town hall, next to the Atlantic Beach Fire Station on West Fort Macon Road.

Town manager David Walker said to pay the debt service, he proposes a 2-cent ad valorem property tax rate increase, taking the tax rate from 18 cents per $100 of property value to 20 cents.

“This budget meets many of the council’s goals,” Mr. Walker said of his proposal. “It maintains the current level of services…and maintains the current number of employees, 56.”

The final draft of the budget is scheduled for presentation to the council by Friday, April 30. The council will review it at its regular work session Thursday, May 13, then hold a public hearing at 2 p.m. Monday, May 24. The council is scheduled to adopt the budget at the regular council meeting Monday, June 28.

Mayor Trace Cooper said the possibility of a tax rate increase was brought up in August when the council was discussing financing options for the complex project.

“What we heard in August was ‘we’d rather have a shorter term loan with a tax increase,’” he said.

According to Mr. Walker’s report, an extra $290,255 in revenue is needed to cover the town’s debt service next fiscal year. At the current tax rate, town officials would collect $3,274,356 in property tax revenue, while at the proposed 20-cent rate, they would collect $3,638,173, an increase of $363,817.

Mayor Cooper said they can consider a lower increase, while Councilman Rich Johnson said the extra revenue with a 20-cent rate could be put toward other projects.

In other news at Thursday’s work session, the council unanimously scheduled a public hearing for the regular council meeting Monday, April 26 for a proposed unified development ordinance amendment. The amendment, if approved, will reduce the minimum side setbacks in the COR (business corridor) district from 10 feet to 5 feet for single-family houses and duplexes.

The council also received an update on several ongoing public works projects:

  • A lift station has been installed at the west end of Forest Knoll Drive as part of the ongoing stormwater drainage improvement project. The station will be activated when all the drain lines have been installed.
  • Staff has been in touch with Groundwater Management Associates about the ongoing water system improvement project. It will change the water treatment plant from a chlorine treatment system to a chloramines system to meet state standards.  
  • Staff is working on removing obstructions from stormwater drainage ditches. Public works director Marc Schulze said the department may only clear the open ditches for which the town has easements. Ditches where property owners have installed piping may not be worked on.
  • Staff received bids from contractors for a proposed street paving project and identified 10 town-owned streets with areas in need of repaving. Bay View Boulevard is the one with the most damaged areas.
  • Dredging in several channels in sound side waters is ongoing, including the Royal, New Causeway, Causeway, Money Island and Asbury Beach channels.
  • Contractors have planted trees at Atlantic Beach Community Park in an effort to create a screen from lighting for neighboring residents. However, the species of trees that have survived are slow-growing.

 

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

(14) comments

drewski

What we heard in August was ‘we’d rather have a shorter term loan with a tax increase,’” he said.

Not sure who wanted a tax increase for the new tajh tn'hall. But I have faith that increase will remain forever and somehow they will find new and exciting ways to spend your money.

noitall

(According to Mr. Walker’s report, an extra $290,255 in revenue is needed to cover the town’s debt service next fiscal year). IS THAT IT?? NO MORE JUSTIFICATION THAN THAT? " EXTRA" IS WHAT - OTHER THAN STUPID?.

mpjeep

Typical government building a new town hall complex and worrying about how taxpayers will pay for the project after construction has started.

In May 2020 Councilman Harry Archer said the project is the largest financial obligation of any the AB council has undertaken. He was talking about the new Taj Mahal complex.

Town manager Walker said in May 2020 of the 2020-2021 budget town staff proposes maintaining the current ad valorem property tax rate of 18 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Hmm...sounds like he only plans one year at a time.

In December 2020, Councilman Rich Johnson said. I’d just like to do what we tell the public we’re going to do. Interesting comment.

A real business will cut expenses to pay for new buildings. Of course, private businesses don’t have taxpayers supporting their efforts. I say lay off some folks and start with the town manager.

ilovecarteret

Between the ongoing Circle fiasco and now the mysteriously raising taxes to build the ugliest building ever, make you wonder about all the leadership of AB.

mpjeep

What we heard in October 2020 was: Councilman Harry Archer said he preferred to pursue a 20-year loan to allow more flexibility.

mpjeep

Do any of you remember the first plans these AB fools proposed?

Atlantic Beach councilmen, except Vada Palma, finally voted to abandon the Fred Bunn circle development idea for a new town hall due to the outrage from citizens.

It was just Coop and the gang again trying to turn us into Myrtle Beach. Surely the money could have been spent in better ways to improve AB. Too late now.

mpjeep

Looks pretty cool, but has lots of wasted space. I call it the Saw Tooth Building.

DeadBolt

OH BOY...... HERE WE GO AGAIN! [thumbdown]

beachmami13

It's constant mismanagement of money...it goes on and on. Remember how they had to lay off all of the longterm MHC employees b/c of the pandemic - yet have $$$ to build that HUGE administrative building on Bridges? They still don't have an animal control officer as far as I'm aware - the previous one worked for them for years and yet was let go w/o any fanfare....It seems that the powers that be just remember us "little people" when we pay our taxes - not when we question all of the many, many decisions that seem to be shortsighted. This is not even mentioning the current Aqua NC controversy - where would that $$ go if the water system was sold?

mpjeep

Most of our commissioners, mayors, and managers should go away just like the Penny should, which has no practical value at all.

beachmami13

Yep. Just waiting for them to have to start putting in this new sewage plant or whatever it is & raising taxes to pay for it.

noitall

What about a trade. Tax increase for complete transparency of every single monetary transaction. Post it monthly and when the budget slips a bit reduce a few personnel - RIFF is the word. Why not? It would accounting ALWAYS improves performance. Lack of transparency is always at the root of

ALL government failure. Win/win

beachmami13

Great idea!

DeadBolt

Speak up if you would actually PAY these actors for their performance as far as you all know, right now. I suspect, if this was performance based on a true population of their citizens they affect with their scheme's , they would be paying the CITIZENS, not the way it is now. [wink]

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