No new taxes for Wrightsville Beach property owners

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With a tax base of $2.458 billion worth of real estate, the town of Wrightsville Beach cut 3.1 percent of its FY 2013-14 budget to shave 3.1 percent or $300,000. The projected $10.2 million budget is funded largely by ad valorem taxes, parking revenues and other fees, including a percentage of room occupancy tax collections.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do but we’re headed in the right direction,” said mayor pro tem Darryl Mills.

During the public hearing on June 12, aldermen were questioned by West Henderson Street resident Neal Briggi regarding the funding gap in parks and recreation department’s revenue versus expenditures.

Town manager Tim Owens said the department’s approximately $150,000 shortfall was related to human resources and operating expenses. “There is no way to close that gap,” Owens said, explaining an increase in program fees may help offset the shortfall, but those program fees also sustain the costs of offering camps, workshops and classes.

Wrightsville Beach water and sewer customers using 6,000 gallons per month will see an increase of  .$51 per unit, or 750 gallons, for an average of $11 more per month, or $22 per billing cycle. An ordinance to revise fees was unanimously approved during the board of aldermen’s June 12 meeting.

Those increases will gross approximately $326,000 in revenues  said town manager Tim Owens.

“We raised the rates to take care of capital projects,” Owens said.

Public works director Mike Vukelich said the last increase was enacted in 2004.

“We could have up to $30 million in projects in the next 20 years,” Owens said, outlining the replacement of water meters, water lines, p a comprehensive water assessment study and the town’s 15 percent share of funding the Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant estimated at $18 million.

During the public hearing Sue Bulluck spoke on behalf of the Holiday Inn Resort. “Businesses can almost adjust to anything as long as it’s predictable; $18 million at the low end is a hard nut to crack. It’s a residents’ and business issue and we have to address it.”

Harbor Island resident, Harold King said, “You haven’t given us enough information to have a public hearing. The only thing i see is the unit fee going up 50 percent from $1.01 to $1.51. It would have been nice to see a sample water bill. “

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