Commissioners defer ordinance enforcement to town

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New Hanover County Commissioners unanimously approved an interlocal agreement designating the Town of Wrightsville Beach as the county’s agent to enforce a dog ordinance on the north end during a June 16 meeting.

The codes are a result of the 2002 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Mason Inlet relocation project, which established the Mason Inlet Waterbird Habitat Management Area. The codes prohibit dogs from the area April through September during bird nesting season but allow dogs on leashes from October through March.

Although a jurisdiction agreement was never formally approved, the town has enforced the codes, writing citations on county forms and splitting the $250 fee with the county. The interlocal agreement officially shifts responsibility, allowing the town to issse town citations, retain fee revenue and conduct necessary hearings related to the citations.

An amendment to the county code of ordinances was also approved, making it more similar to the town’s for easier enforcement.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman was  scheduled to approve the agreement during a June 12 meeting but tabled the request for a July meeting, after the county acted on it.

The interlocal agreement coincides with the county’s request to modify management requirements for the bird sanctuary as outlined in the 30-year permit issued for the relocation project. County Shore Protection Coordinator Layton Bedsole said dog restrictions are a condition of the permit that will be maintained.

2014-15 Fiscal Year Budget Adoption

Commissioners approved the $372 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year prepared by County Manager Chris Coudriet and county staff. The budget was approved 3-1 with Vice Chair Beth Dawson in opposition.

Nearly $825,000 is allocated in the 2014-15 budget to boost salaries for 411 county employees up to  minimum market salary as established in a pay study completed by Evergreen Solutions.

Dawson requested raises for appointed and elected officials—the county manager, county attorney, register of deeds, county clerk and the sheriff—be considered later, as part of the annual evaluation process where they are normally handled.

The raises will be effective July 1.

Solid Waste Management Discussion

Commissioners have spent nearly a year investigating waste hauling options in an effort to preserve air space at the county landfill but the board split in its June 16 vote, leaving the county in control of solid waste management.

Commissioners Thomas Wolfe and Jonathan Barfield Jr. voted to keep services under county control. The county will concentrate on construction and demolition recycling to divert 30 percent of solid waste flow as well as saving to fund closure and post-closure landfill maintenance under a $55 per ton tipping fee established in the 2014-15 budget.

Dawson voted in opposition to the motion, suggesting the board defer action on such an important matter until the citizens are represented with a full board. Chairman Woody White recognized the need to preserve air space for future generations, saying his remaining questions could be worked out in contract negotiations, but also voted to table the motion for future discussion.

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