Oak Island Town Council adopted a fiscal 2022 budget Tuesday and threatened again to get serious about folks trampling the new, fragile dunes, including employing extra police and a drone.
Members of council said they hoped to see vacation rental agencies work more closely with the town to educate visitors about the need to stay off the dunes, which will receive plantings over the next few weeks. Contractors are adding beach grasses and sea oats to the landward toe of the sand added from near Oak Island Pier west to Third Place East, just east of Middleton Avenue.
Another sand project to replace hurricane losses is scheduled for this winter, which would cover points from Middleton Avenue west to near The Point.
Resident Dara Royal asked council to realign some priorities in the coming year. She suggested spending more on roads, sidewalks, the skate park and upgrading the recreation center, instead of banking money for future sand projects that may not prove feasible or be permitted by environmental regulators.
The town’s $39.2-million overall budget maintains a property tax rate of 28-cents per $100 taxable value. The base budget will receive 23-cents, with 5-cents being reserved for use on beach projects.
The rate is based on the assumption that real property is worth $3.39-billion and the tax collection rate is 98-percent. Real property includes land, improvements, vehicles and aircraft, among other items.
The general fund is less than half of the budget – $14.18-million. Other funds are set up to be self-supporting or mostly self-supporting, such as water, sewer, solid waste, beach fund and the par 3 golf course and pier.
In the budget, the par 3 golf course and pier complex are the only entities subsidized by the general fund, to the tune of $326,400.
The budget holds sewer and stormwater rates steady, but would increase fire fees by 20-percent. Also, the town will pass along increases in water rates after Brunswick County stepped up fees because of the construction of a new plant that will filter PFAS-type chemicals.
Council discussed the vacancy created by the resignation of former member Jeff Winecoff but took no action.
In other business, council:
• Appointed Pamela Johnson and Chris Reigert to the Environmental Advisory Committee.
• Appointed Ed Burnett to the Airport Advisory Board.
• Agreed to establish a beach and sand ad hoc committee.
• Adopted changes to the unified development ordinance that more directly involve council when there are changes to special use permits.
• Took no action on proposed changes to restrictions involving animated electronic signs.