Congressman Rouzer Attends Chamber Luncheon In Kure Beach

(Pictured Above:) Congressman David Rouzer is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 7th Congressional District. Rouzer spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce on Monday August 20th at the Kure Beach Community Center.  He spoke about many issues including beach nourishment funding. (Pictured Above:) Congressman David Rouzer is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 7th Congressional District. Rouzer spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce on Monday August 20th at the Kure Beach Community Center. He spoke about many issues including beach nourishment funding.

Congressman Rouzer Attends Chamber Luncheon In Kure Beach Featured

By / Local News / الأربعاء, 22 آب/أغسطس 2018 18:57

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - Congressman David Rouzer attended a luncheon  hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce on August 20th, at the Kure Beach Community Center.

Rouzer updated local business owners on recent congressional actions including tax reform to help small businesses reinvest and grow, beach nourishment funding, approving $4 billion dollars to help the opioid crisis and other issues.

On the topic of beach nourishment in New Hanover County, Rouzer said, "You are going to see a Water Resources Development Act in a final bill that includes provisions for Carolina Beach. In fact, we take care of the extension of the coastal storm management reduction project" and rather than three year extensions, "You get into a 15 year life cycle. We have language in the bill that clarifies that. So the bottom line is we have really taken Carolina Beach in terms of coastal restoration, beach restoration that were on the chopping block. We've taken it off the chopping block."

Rouzer explained, "We still have to get the studies, still have to have a favorable report. All of those things still have to happen but all the elements are in place to get the renourishment project extended for a fifteen year life cycle. Not only for Carolina Beach in terms of helping to maintain federal support, but we are doing that for all of the other beaches that are federally authorized as well."

He said, "We've got seven appropriations that have  been passed in the Senate. That or more have been passed in the House. That is a big change from the past. Many of you know at the end of every year you have a big Omnibus Appropriations bill. This year it doesn't look like that has to be the case and that's a good thing. The process, the way it's actually supposed to work, when the House passes it's version of the bills and the Senate passes it's version of the bills, you go to conference and get things worked out in conference. What's happened traditionally is that we've had one big Omnibus Appropriations bill where you take all of the individual bills and put them into one and that's not a good way to govern. The leadership negotiates those things and then they present them to the individual membership and you have to either vote ya or nay. We are very thrilled the Senate has agreed to move forward on those bills individually. That's a major change from previous years."

Rouzer said not all of the appropriations bills will be complete before the November mid-term elections.

Rouzer said maintaining inlets such as the Carolina Beach Inlet, "Require constant attention. And one of the things we do, and so far have been very successful with that, is making sure the Army Corp knows those are priorities and get them working in that direction. The biggest challenge is funding and long-term that's going to be the biggest challenge for our beaches, inlets and waterways and maintaining that federal level of support."

Rouzer said as entitlement spending such as social security and medicare programs grows over time, "It eats up  the available discretionary dollars that go to the Army Corp for a variety of topics, dredging of inlets and waterways."

He said funding for the upcoming beach nourishment project scheduled in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach in 2019 is secured and explained, "I'll anticipate there is no issue moving forward the next three or four years. It's after year five where I get concerned. I'm watching growth and spending and growth and spending is a direct correlation to all the baby boomers that are retired. It's a numbers issue. You have so many baby boomers that are now retiring. That means the medicare rolls grow significantly, the social security rolls grow significantly. So that's where you have growth in spending."

He explained, "The word entitlement comes from basically the fact that you are entitled to the benefit" such as medicare, social security or food stamps and, "Those are the programs that constitute 70% of the federal budget so if you look at the debt, 85% of the increase in the debt is directly attributable to entitlement programs."

He explained, "As that grows, it puts more and more pressure on discretionary spending, which by the way more than 50% of discretionary spending is military. The money that's going to the Army Corp is competing with the money that goes to the military or education" or other programs.

The Towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach receive periodic beach renourishment. The last beach renourishment project was in 2016 when the Army Corp of Engineers completed a project to pump sand on to the beach front.

In Carolina Beach, sand is pumped through pipes from the area of the Carolina Beach Inlet south along Freeman Park to an area near the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier at the end of Carolina Beach Avenue North. Then crews working for a contractor extend the pipes south as they pump sand on to the beach front within Town limits. The cost for the 2016 joint Carolina Beach and Kure Beach project was $12,876,439.00. That price increased when additional sand was factored into the project. Following a pre-placement survey of the beach profile the project added another 120,000 cubic yards of sand in Carolina Beach in addition to the originally planned 770,000 cubic yards. Kure Beach received another 63,000 cubic yards in addition to the planned 592,000 cubic yards.

The project cost is shared with the Federal Government paying 65% and the State of North Carolina and local governments splitting the remaining 35%. A tax on hotel, motel, and vacation rental accommodations funds the local government portion of the project cost.

Both Towns are on a three-year renourishment cycle with the next project scheduled for the Spring of 2019.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a budget amendment  on Monday May 21st, to fund  beach renourishment projects in 2019 at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. Every three years the two Towns receive an infusion of sand to help fight erosion.

According to Jim Iannucci, County Engineer, the US Army Corps of Engineers (UACES) requested the non-federal cost share of $6,580,000 for the fiscal year 2019 Carolina Beach (CB) and Kure Beach (KB) Coastal Storm Damage Reduction (CSDR) maintenance events. This payment was originally anticipated for the fiscal year 2019 budget, however, the USACE has requested the funds be paid by June 4, 2018 to allow for early bidding to obtain more favorable pricing. The cost sharing of these projects is 65 percent federal and 35 percent non-Federal. Activities performed by the USACE include completing project design, awarding a construction contract, and administering the contract through completion for the upcoming nourishment cycle for Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

The Federal cost-share for the 2019 Carolina Beach project will be $4.27 million with the State funding $2.30 million for a total cost of $6.57 million.

The Federal cost-share for the 2019 Kure Beach project will be $7.95 million with the State funding $4.28 million for a total of $12.23 million.

The total for both projects is $18.8 million.

County staff requested the Board of Commissioners approve of the budget amendment to cover the non-federal portion of the projects. Room Occupancy Tax (ROT) revenues collected from hotels, motels and short term vacation rental accommodations will be used to fund the projects. The State portion of 50% of the non-federal cost share, or $3,290,000, has been requested from the North Carolina General Assembly as part of the fiscal year 2019 State Budget. That amount will be treated as revenue in the Room Occupancy Tax fund when it is received.

Even though the projects are scheduled for next fiscal year, the payment was due to the USACE in June 2018. The appropriation of $5,580,000 in ROT fund balance combined with $1,000,000 available in the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget will provide the cost sharing requirements specified in the Project Cooperation Agreements with the Army Corp of Engineers. Those agreements were originally established in 1994 for Carolina Beach and 1995 for Kure Beach.

All work for the project must be completed within the environmental window usually scheduled for early November  to the end of April.

That time frame is set to avoid interfering with Federally protected endangered sea turtles that begin nesting in the Spring.

Currently there is in excess of $35 million dollars in the ROT fund for beach nourishment.

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