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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Fee increases in talks for 2014-15 budget

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While a tax increase is not included in the working 2014-15 budget, the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen is discussing a range of possible fee increases to help cover certain department operating and overhead costs.

One idea is to create a flat rate for vegetative debris pickups, starting at $25 for pickups less than 2 cubic yards. Currently, pickups less than 2 cubic yards are free.

Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens suggested during the May 5 budget workshop a flat rate increase for more than 2 cubic yards, at $10 per each additional cubic yard.

“This will help curb it a little bit, then we can massage it if we need to,” Owens said.

From the change, Owens included a $40,000 increase in revenue for the public works sanitation department, but Steve Dellies, assistant public works director, estimates the increase will be closer to $50,000.

Mike Vukelich, public works director, said he also built in a 10 percent reduction in tonnage.

“The down side is people will probably be more apt to put [vegetative debris] in their garbage cans,” Owens said.

If the change is approved, Owens said he would mail information to residents.

The board is also considering an increase in parks and recreation department fees to cover overhead costs.

“We’re not a branch of New Hanover County Parks and Recreation, so I don’t feel any need to subsidize events and activities that are 80 and 90 percent non-beach residents,” said Mayor Pro Tem Darryl Mills, referring to eight to 10 of the activities offered.

Following a previous board request, Katie Ryan, parks and recreation program supervisor, recommended increasing after school fees by 15 percent, fitness fees by about 20 percent, flag football increases of $25 per team, special event permit increases by the number of participants and doubling business on the beach permits.

Within the recommendation, Ryan stated possible increases would likely cause a significant decrease in participation, particularly with fitness classes.

Mayor Bill Blair requested Ryan and Owens take a deeper look at the numbers before the next budget workshop. Mills said they should focus on what is taking up the most staff time and also disproportionate participation by residents and nonresidents.

“This is a good start,” said Alderman Hank Miller III. “I’m glad to see that the rates are different.”

Board members also expressed concerns about event organizers underestimating the number of participants for events, saying underestimation leaves the town without great police coverage.

Owens said he needs to give the board the proposed budget by June 1.

The board’s next budget workshop will be held Monday, May 12, at 5 p.m. Board members will discuss options for erecting a public works shower facility, lots that need resurfacing parks and recreation fees and how to handle larger special event permits.

“We’re close to being done,” Blair said.

Alderwoman Lisa Weeks was absent from the meeting as she was out of town.

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