Posted on January 5, 2021
EMERALD ISLE — Carteret County’s Shore Protection Office hopes to work with state legislators in 2021 to get a recurring source of funds to help local governments pay for beach nourishment projects.
In an email last week, Greg Rudolph, manager of the office, said, “This is a goal for us that has been evolving over the past decade-plus.”
The effort increased when N.C. General Assembly established the Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund in 2018, he said, but that fund doesn’t have a recurring revenue stream, like the state’s Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund. That fund gets revenue from boat registration fees and a portion of the marine gas tax to build up year after year. It helps pay for local dredging projects, usually on a two-thirds state, one-third local, funding ratio.
Mr. Rudolph said the state’s beach towns and their legislators have been evaluating potential sources of recurring revenue for a nourishment fund and will make it a priority during the 2021 legislative session.
“This is not an easy task and (the coronavirus pandemic) has speckled uncertainty deep into the recesses of all governments, adding more complexity to this broad, over-arching state funding goal,” he said.
He also noted the N.C. League of Municipalities’ latest draft of legislative goals includes a state funding beach initiative.
“We … will likely ask for community/municipality help if the iron gets hot,” Mr. Rudolph said.
The league does list the issue as a goal under infrastructure needs. It states the goal is to “create a permanent and adequate funding stream for local infrastructure needs … including roads, water, sewer, stormwater, parks and beaches,” all of which the league says are critical to economic development and job creation.
Funding assistance is needed, the league states, because many cities are growing fast, creating a constant need for investment to keep up with growth.
Emerald Isle Commissioner Jim Normile, a member of the Carteret County Beach Commission, which advises Mr. Rudolph’s office, has been working with the league on the nourishment fund issue.
Recent county nourishment projects have used a combination of occupancy tax money, one-time state funds and money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rudolph said dredging projects will heat up soon in the county.
For the Old Ferry Channel and Deer Creek dredging in Cape Carteret and in Bogue Sound between Cape Carteret and Emerald Isle, contractor T.D. Eure of Beaufort “should begin mobilizing heavy equipment to the site soon and informed us that bucket-to-barge operations will begin on January 4,” Mr. Rudolph said.
Dredging of channels at the State Port of Morehead City, with concurrent beach nourishment in Fort Macon State Park and eastern Atlantic Beach, should start soon after the cutterhead-suction pipeline dredge, the JS Chatry from Weeks Marine in New Jersey, arrives Tuesday, Jan. 5.
Finally, mobilization for the post-Hurricane Florence beach nourishment project in Emerald Isle is on tap, with mobilization of equipment on the strand and arrival of the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. dredge Liberty Island set for mid- to late-January. That project will begin near Bogue Inlet, at the western tip of Emerald Isle.
As usual, Mr. Rudolph said start dates should not be considered “etched in stone.” Weather, mechanical and job issues on other projects can shift the start date projects by days, he said.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.