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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.