Waste fee hike eyed in Currituck

Scanlon S&P.JPG.JPG

Currituck County Manager Dan Scanlon


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Friday, June 8, 2018

CURRITUCK — Cur­rituck County prop­erty own­ers wouldn’t pay any more in prop­erty taxes if next year’s proposed $50.1 mil­lion county bud­get is approved. They would, how­ever, pay be­tween $20 and $36 more a year, de­pend­ing on where they live, to help off­set the county’s rising solid waste dis­posal costs.

Property owners in Corolla also would see their tax rate go up by 5 cents per $100 of valuation to fund the Outer Banks community’s new fire protection district.

If the proposed budget for 2018-19 is approved, each of Currituck County’s 420 employees would receive a 2-percent cost-of-living pay raise.

The budget also includes funding for eight new positions: four Currituck-Fire EMS personnel for Knotts Island; two deputies for the Currituck Sheriff’s Office; a career and technical education coordinator for the Currituck County Schools; and an additional county building code inspector.

The proposed budget outlined by County Manager Dan Scanlon earlier this week, while holding the line on the property tax rate at 48 cents, includes increased funding for both public education and public safety.

The Currituck County Schools would receive $11.9 million for operations, a $928,000 increase from the current year’s budget. The schools would also receive $1.4 million for capital outlay, $400,000 more than the current year.

Currituck Fire-EMS also would receive an increase in the county budget. The agency would receive nearly $5.1 million, an increase of more than $694,000 from the current year. The Currituck Sheriff’s Office would receive nearly $7.3 million. The Currituck Detention Center would receive $2.4 million, an increase of more than $156,000 from the current year. The additional jail funding will pay for facility and security upgrades.

Other major expenses in next year’s proposed budget include $3.6 million for the Currituck Department of Social Services and $2.7 million for the county volunteer fire departments.

Fifty-six percent of the proposed budget’s expenses — nearly $29.6 million — will be paid for with revenue from property tax revenues, Scanlon said. Other key revenue sources for the budget include $8.4 million in sales taxes, nearly $3.7 million in occupancy tax revenues, nearly $1.7 million from the state for administration of social services, and $950,000 from EMS transport fees.

Scanlon is also proposing the county spend $3.7 million from fund balance in next year’s budget.

He noted the proposed budget includes a final payment of more than $971,000 on College of The Albemarle's Aviation and Technical Training Center in Barco. Scanlon said that amount will be paid from sales tax revenues.

While most county taxpayers won’t see a tax increase, those who live outside Corolla would pay $36 more a year to support the county’s solid waste drop-off sites, better known as convenience centers. Corolla property owners, meanwhile, would pay $20 more a year for curbside garbage pickup in their neighborhoods.

The county’s solid waste disposal fee would climb from $114 to $150 a year, while the curbside pickup fee for Corolla property owners would rise from $250 to $270 a year.

Scanlon cited the county’s rising costs of disposing solid waste as the reason for the proposed fee increases. The state no longer allows certain materials to be disposed of in landfills. Also, while Currituck benefited from a robust recycling market for a number of years, that doesn't exist anymore, meaning materials are becoming increasingly expensive to dispose of.

Scanlon noted the last time the fees were raised was in 2011.

Scanlon also said the budget includes an additional 5-cent tax for Corolla property owners for fire protection. Commissioners approved the creation last month of a new fire district in Corolla to provide enhanced fire protection in the Outer Banks community.

Discussing the budget for the county schools, Scanlon said the Currituck Board of Education, had asked for and received nearly $65,000 to support a career and technical education coordinator — a new position. 

Scanlon also noted the county has been providing the school district with at least $1 million for capital outlay every year. But thanks to growth in sales tax revenue, the county was able to increase that amount in next year’s budget to $1.4 million. 

Of the $1.4 million, $532,000 will go for new technology, including $140,000 for Chromebooks for rising sixth-graders, and $100,000 for replacement desktop computers.

Discussing the personnel additions, Scanlon said the four Currituck Fire-EMS personnel are needed on Knotts Island to continue fire protection services in the remote community. Currituck Fire-EMS deployed four paid firefighters-emergency medical services personnel to the Knotts Island Fire Station in early November after the community’s volunteer fire chief suspended the department’s operations because of a contract impasse with the county.

Scanlon said the additional building code enforcement officer is needed because of a change to North Carolina law that’s made inspections and enforcement more time-sensitive.

Commissioners are set to vote on Scanlon’s proposed budget on June 18. The county’s 2018-19 budget must be in place by the start of July.

The proposed budget is open to citizen inspection at Scanlon's office on the second floor of the Historic Currituck Courthouse, as well as online at http://co.currituck.nc.us/finance-budget/.