At Southern Shores public hearing, concerns about beach nourishment taxes

By on March 17, 2021

(Town of Southern Shores)

During a March 16 public hearing, the Southern Shores Town Council listened to more than an hour of public comment regarding the creation of Municipal Services Districts (MSDs) that will be levied an additional property tax to help fund the town’s beach nourishment project in 2022. The project is slated to cost an estimated $14.7 million and pump 848,300 cubic yards of sand on the town’s 3.7-mile stretch of beach.

Comments from property owners during the hearing largely came from those in two of the proposed districts that are faced with a significant tax increase. The council is set to take its first vote in formally defining the MSD boundaries at its April 13 meeting. If that action passes, it will take a second vote as required by law at its May 4 meeting. The tax rate, however, will be officially set with the adoption of the budget, which typically occurs in June.

“The council has, in all the discussions, been pretty uniform and unanimous that every town property will be taxed, all property should be taxed, and everyone should pay their fair share,” said Town Manager Cliff Ogburn told council members prior to the hearing. “The question for you to determine is what is that fair share.”

The issue of fairness indeed came up at the public hearing, where a number of people raising concerns about how the beach nourishment tax burden was being distributed.

Rod McCaughey, who lives on Eleventh Avenue, said that even though his home is not on the ocean, he thought the proposed tax on beachfront property owners was too high.  “The proposed beach nourishment is not being done to protect individual properties,” McCaughey said.  “The enrichment of our beachfront will enrich all homeowners. The considerable tax increases needed to fund the project should be spread more evenly among all property owners.”

The Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund will cover $7.8 million of the project cost, with Southern Shores taxpayers footing about $6.1 million of the bill through a town-wide tax and the two MSDs. A state grant of $1.4 million will also go toward the cost.

The proposed boundaries for MSD 1 would include all properties east of Ocean Boulevard/NC 12 beginning at the southern town limit and extending to Ocean Boulevard; all properties east of Ocean Boulevard from the split at Ocean Boulevard/NC 12 extending to Hickory Trail; and all properties north of Hickory Trail that abut the Atlantic Ocean, extending to the northern town limit.

MSD 2 would consist of all properties in MSD 1; all properties located east of Ocean Boulevard/NC 12 and Duck Road/NC 12 from the southern town limit to the northern town limit; and all properties located west of an abutting Ocean Boulevard/NC 12 beginning at the southern town line extending north to 137 Ocean Boulevard, and abutting Duck Road/NC 12 beginning at 139 Duck Road extending north to 149 Duck Road.

According to the numbers that were presented as an example of tax levies, in addition to paying the town-wide increase of .0275, property owners in MSD 2 would be faced with a beach nourishment tax of $0.0625 per $100 of assessed value. MSD 1 property owners would be saddled with an additional $0.145 increase along with having to also pay the town-wide tax and the MSD 2 levy.

That means town-wide, property owners with a home assessed at $500,000 would see an annual tax bill increase of $137.50 while those in MSD 2 would see an increase of $450 and those in MSD 1 would face a $1,312.50 increase.

Michael Iwashchecko, who owns two properties within the proposed MSD 1 and said his taxes are set to increase by about $2,600, told council members that he is adamantly opposed to beach nourishment.

“I just think that the taxation plan that you guys are advising is wholly unfair,” he asserted. “I’m against all beach nourishment, that’s why we bought houses three and four back… I’m not a fan of pumping money into the ocean.”

For her part, Lisa Emig asserted that, “I think that so many of the other town residents use the oceanfront property, and it seems not appropriate to me that we’re being assessed twice in the MSD district.”

At the conclusion of the public hearing, Southern Shores Mayor Tom Bennett acknowledged the sentiment and concerns of the speakers.

“I did pick up on an overarching theme of more equitableness, which is something I think we need to consider very carefully,” he concluded.


See Also: Dare Board advances Avon beach nourishment project


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Comments

  • Dan

    Welfare for rich out of town ocean front home owners. The real issue is SS is traffic. The town refuses to do anything about traffic where year round residents live. But they raise our taxes to protect rich yankees at the ocean front.

    Wednesday, Mar 17 @ 3:59 pm
  • Susie

    If the oceanfront houses are claiming they own the beach-what is it to the high tide line? And there is very little public beach access in Sothern Shores. With that in mind the owners of the oceanfront houses making all of this money need to come up with most of the cash. They spend a lot of time saying they own this part of the beach, and they can put out whatever they want, and they can build a house that hold 50 some people, then the majority of beach nourishment needs to come from them. As a local I can pay part- but I owe nothing compared to what they should owe.

    Wednesday, Mar 17 @ 7:34 pm
  • Ray

    We all recognize the beach is the number 1 “attraction here , and it must be preserved, but there must be a better option , even if it be a longer term / slower process ( offshore artificial reef , small and frequent mini jetties ) in the long term it will be much cheaper to fix it instead of band aiding it every year with whatever money we are told it will take to solve the problem…….. until next year & the next year …..

    Wednesday, Mar 17 @ 9:32 pm
  • Pumper

    Oceanfront comes with a cost. Pay it or move out. The oceanfront owners need to pay a disproportionate amount of the cost. I frankly don’t care if their mega mansions wash into the ocean.

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 12:23 am
  • Josh

    $7.8 million in Dare County funds and $1.4 million in state funds for a total of $9.2 million dollars of funding for a town beach that no other Dare County residents can use. There is no parking offered in Southern Shores unless you’re a Southern Shores resident and have a parking pass.
    Every other town in Dare County has public beach parking. When is Southern Shores going to jump onboard? Dare County is funding the majority of the project yet county residents will never get to use a Southern Shores beach. It’s basically a private town beach. It’s a joke. SS residents are allowed to park and use Kitty Hawk, KDH, Nags Head and every other beach clear to Ocracoke, but all of those other towns are not granted that same right. And don’t say tell me the beach is public if there’s no parking or access.
    Pave a parking lot, ditch the parking passes, and get onboard with every other county resident. Or stay in Southern Shores.

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 6:25 am
  • voidless1

    Hmm…wonder when the town gets a vote on their stance, concerning the risk/reward prospect of pumping sand.

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 8:43 am
  • Candace Heyward

    divisive divisive divisive-I thought we were all in this together…….SMH

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 8:51 am
  • Grant

    In this together? Candice when have you been cut in on partnership revenues from beach house businesses? ROI is not public property. Why would you be willing to pay for the risk and expense without being all “in it together?” It is simple fairness, not a question of social sharing.

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 10:14 am
  • MikeM

    SAD, so sad.. that people are opposed to this because the millionaires that own ocean front property are going to be hit hardest.. even though they have infinitely more to lose! the IDIOCY is OUTSTANDING! If you do nothing, the town will be gone in a few years, many homes of the rich will be IN THE OCEAN.. or as they are called.. FALL INS.. condemned and total losses..

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 12:03 pm
  • Thomas

    @Josh..I am a long time resident and home owner in Southern Shores and I agree with you 100%. I have never understood how the beach /ocean is private all the way to Corolla. At the time, I thought all the towns should have gotten together and bought the land at Kitty Hawk Pier and made a large beautiful BeachPark / Pier that all Dare County residents could enjoy. It would have been such a fantastic large Beach Park right as you enter our towns where people could get our and stretch their feet and smell the wonderful air after a long drive. Instead it is a private hotel. No doubt there should be public beach access between Kitty Hawk Pier to the Currituck County line especially given Dare Country residents are being asked to foot the bill for SS beach nourishment… All that aside, the beach nourishment project is ridiculous across the County as all the sand will wash right back into the ocean during a few good storms , and it will be a never ending tax burden on residents literally throwing money in the ocean.

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 4:26 pm
  • surf123

    Looking forward to the lawsuits that are forthcoming. There is absolutely no way those at the oceanfront should be subsidized by everyone else. I live in the county and do not have any skin in the touristing game. For that matter I could not venture on the beach at Southern Shores as I do not live there. If they want sand money then they need some public access points with nice big parking lots. There may not be much that can be done to stop it in Southern Shores, but there is on Hatteras Island where the island is a National Seashore. A few lawsuits and the Avon sand pumping plan will come to a screeching halt for what I hope is years and years.

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 5:55 pm
  • Zack Bass

    If you want to live on a thin strip of migrating Barrier Island made of sand, this is the price you have to pay.

    Thursday, Mar 18 @ 6:50 pm
  • Grant

    If we must be dragged into pumping sand into the ocean, certainly the only fairway and I suspect the only way to avoid a large lawsuit (word to the wise SS leadership) is for the tax to be a progressive one where the highest priced owners bear the preponderance of the cost. You cannot make the argument the inland homeowner, who derives no rental income from his homes, has no risk of the ocean, benefits from this insanity in anyway. Even the beach home owner knows the beach will always be there.

    Saturday, Mar 20 @ 8:52 am