Island Free Press: New Avon service districts, tax rates approved for beach nourishment projects

A vehicle lost to the overwash on Ocean View Drive in the Nov. 2019 nor’easter. [Don Bowers photo]

The Dare County Board of Commissioners approved the establishment of two new tax service districts in Avon at their June 7 meeting, which will pay for a portion of a 2022 beach nourishment project.

Image from the Dare County budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021‐2022

The approval of the new Avon districts and the accompanying tax rates was included in the approval of the Dare County budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021‐2022, as explained by County Manager Bobby Outten at Monday morning’s meeting. “If you approve the budget, you approve [the service districts] as well, unless you choose to take that out.”

There are now two service districts in Avon to help fund next year’s beach nourishment project that will tackle the stretch of oceanfront shoreline from Due East Road to the village’s southern boundary. The project will cover approximately 2.5 miles of oceanfront with more than 1 million cubic yards of sand, which will be derived from an offshore borrow pit.

More than 50% of the project’s estimated $12,684,358 cost will be funded by the county’s Beach Nourishment Fund, and the remainder of the project will be paid for by the taxes stemming from Avon’s new service districts.

Service District A includes all 2,261 properties in Avon, and the tax rate is $.05 cents per $100 dollars of the property’s Dare County tax value.

Service District B includes properties east of Highway 12 and south of Due East Road, (the oceanside properties directly adjacent to the 2.5-mile long project), and the tax rate is $.20 cents per $100 of the county’s tax value. These properties will be members of both service districts, so their total tax rate – $.20 cents for District A and $.05 cents for District B – will be S.25 cents.

In the state of North Carolina, and per the County Service District Act of 1973, when one unincorporated portion of a county requires a special service, (and an accompanying tax that is only applied to that segment of the county), then a service district must be established for that region alone. A similar endeavor was launched in 2016, when a service district was created in Buxton to help fund the area’s 2017-2018 beach nourishment project.

Due to anticipated maintenance every five years, the tax will be in place indefinitely, and may be adjusted in the future, depending on maintenance project costs.

A public hearing was held on February 24 regarding the project, as well as at the beginning of June 7’s Board of Commissioners meeting, where two Avon property owners commented from the satellite Dare County office in Buxton.

Image from Dare County

Avon village resident Belton Gray stated that the sand that was placed on the Buxton shoreline for the2017-2018 beach nourishment project had disappeared, and he asked the commissioners to explore better options for keeping N.C. Highway 12 open – the primary goal of the upcoming Avon Beach Nourishment project.

“All 2.9 million cubic yards of sand are now gone [in Buxton], and the money used to spent on it is for naught,” he said. “I would like to ask the Board to stop and think about the road that we’re on concerning this, and to find us something that’s going to show [results] for our money. We’ll pay your taxes, if you give us something to show for it.”

“Pump up Highway 12. Use the sand to raise the highway, so that the road will be [protected], and at least we’ll have something to show for it.”

Avon property owner Maryann Marcel, whose family has owned a home on Crocker Ct. since 1973, also spoke during the public comment section, and stated that the properties in the higher-rate district were not all subjected to ocean overwash, and that the way the districts were created was “arbitrary and unfair.”

“There really is a specific area where there’s a problem, and that’s along Ocean View Drive,” she said. “[I’m] not opposed to paying a fair share if it is decided that you are going to go ahead with nourishment, but I don’t think people like me who are not affected by the erosion should be included in paying five times the tax rate.”

The county maintenance project for Buxton and the new project for Avon is planned for the summer of 2022. The project is expected to be bid in December of 2021 as a single County contract for both projects.

The total cost estimate for the projects is $33,130,657, which includes an estimate of $8,835,528 of FEMA Hurricane Florence and Dorian funding for the Buxton portion.

Avon on September 20, 2020

A beach nourishment project for Avon has been discussed for a number of years due to accelerated erosion, which has increased dramatically in the past few years, and especially in the Ocean View Drive vicinity. Once an area that had two lines of vegetated dunes, the sand dunes along much of the beach in southern Avon have been washed away, allowing the ocean to flood N.C. Highway 12 regularly, and make the highway impassable. In the past several years, this has occurred during hurricanes and nor’easters, but also during offshore storms, extreme high tides, and other less-severe weather events. The beach nourishment project was initially proposed In order to keep N.C. Highway 12 open when these regular rounds of flooding occur.

Avon property owners who want to determine their potential tax increase can find their current tax year values through the Dare County website’s Parcel Data Map, which provides tax information for all county parcels such as ownership information, property summaries, flood zones, and tax values.

For more information on the proposed project, see the Avon Beach Nourishment FAQs or visit the Dare County website at https://www.darenc.com/government/avon-beach-nourishment.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.