Editorial: Pay Attention To Property Taxes, Decals And Uitlity Rates

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 27 April 2016 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Kure Beach Town Council met on April 22nd and discussed raising the property tax rate by 2.35 cents per $100 of property value. The new rate would be .285 cents. A home valued at $350,000 will have an annual tax increase of $82.25 ($6.85 per month).
Basically, the Council says they have to maintain a level of service to serve the community. Due to regulatory changes the Fire Department will have to add four paid fire fighters to their volunteer department. The Police Department has needed an additional officer position for several years now due to increased tourism traffic in the summer months.
You can read the report on page 1-A of this week's edition for more details.
Additionally, they agreed to  a proposal to ensure everyone pays a tax that has been optional for many years. That's the Vehicle Identification Decal. Owners of vehicles registered to an address in Kure Beach are required by ordinance to purchase a decal that serves a dual purpose. One is to levy a tax to fund local government. They other is to identify vehicles following a hurricane evacuation when everyone is trying to get back on the Island.
Many people never buy the decals until they turn on the TV and see a swirling hurricane headed our way.
The proposal is to attach the $5 charge for the VID decal to vehicle registrations. You'll have to pay the tax each year when you renew with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Then you'll head over to Town Hall with that registration and pick up your decal.
Non-resident property owners will still be able to purchase a decal at Town Hall.
It's a good bet that once Carolina Beach hears this idea they'll adopt a resolution for their own Vehicle Identification Decal program that's also been in place for many years. Of course, only thing stopping Carolina Beach from trying to put a toll at Snow's Cut Bridge is because they're not to the only town on the Island.
The Kure Beach Council also agreed to raise water and sewer rates for high consumption residential customers. That's households ( and vacation rentals) that use more than 7,000 gallons per month water and sewer.
And they're not hiding the driving factor that influenced the proposal. Vacation rental homes are billed like any other residential home yet they are often advertised as accommodating multiple  families. Obviously their water use is much higher than a married couple with 2.5 kids. Most residential users use far less water each month and thus place a smaller burden on the expense of sewer treatment.
And honestly, vacation rentals make money. It's a good business! But so do hotels and they pay a commercial rate for water and sewer. Vacation rental owners will have an opportunity to voice their concerns to the Council at a public hearing.
The Kure Beach Council will discuss the item again at their May meeting and will adopt a balanced budget prior to June 30th. They'll also hold a public hearing on the proposed budget.
Of course, the Carolina Beach Town Council hasn't mentioned a property tax increase... yet. So that's something to watch out for as they plan their budget to begin July 1st.
They are still planning to raise water, sewer and storm water rates. Last month it was a plan to more than double the rates over five years. Now, it's a 60% increase over five years. All to pay for a $57.8 million dollar infrastructure improvement plan. They'll talk more about that at their May 10th, meeting.

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