With its passage of the 2018-2019 budget last week, Wrightsville Beach will continue to grow its sand fund while continuing to store away money in the town’s general fund and providing cost of living raises to employees, town leaders said this week.
The 2018-2019 town budget would raise spending to $16,325,482, up from $13,457,087 in the previous year. Much of the increase in spending comes from water and sewer projects that town leaders said were needed to fix pressing problems in the aging system.
The town will also grow its beach sand fund by $500,000 in 2019, adding to the $2.7 million already in the fund.
Beach renourishment funding could become critical in coming years as federal officials are warning that federal money may soon dry up for the project, which restores sand to the local beaches. Wrightsville Beach completed its latest four-year beach sand replacement project this March, at a total cost of $9.5 million, with most funding coming from a split of federal, state and county sources.
The town also has a nearly $10 million reserve fund. While state law requires that municipalities carry at least 8 percent of its total spending in a reserve fund, Wrightsville Beach maintains a reserve fund of at least 34.5 percent, town officials said.
“It’s important that people understand that the parking fees do some good for Wrightsville Beach,” Mayor Bill Blair said.
The town’s budget spends $11,725,807 on general fund expenditures and $4,599,675 on water and sewer projects. Both are up from last year, mostly to address several water and sewer projects in need of upgrading.
To help cover the upgrades, the budget raises water and sewer rates by 25 percent, with water fees from $1.52 per unit (748 gallons) to $1.90 per unit, while the sewer rate would go from $2.65 per unit to $3.31 per unit. The budget also laid out an increase in both the water and sewer maintenance fees.
Blair said that for most residents, the increase would amount to approximately $20 per month.