Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Visitors to Wrightsville Beach paying nearly as much in parking fees as homeowners do in taxes

Parking in Wrightsville Beach could be on the rise yet again (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)
Parking in Wrightsville Beach collects almost the same amount in fees as homeowners pay in taxes. (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)

Without parking revenue, Wrightsville Beach’s property taxes would essentially double.

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — The next time you visit Wrightsville Beach don’t feel unwelcome for being a tourist; without parking revenue collected from visitors, taxpayers living on the island would pay significantly more.

According to the Town of Wrightsville Beach’s draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year, budget projections for Ad Valorem tax rates are roughly $3.30 million — parking revenues are only slightly lower at $3.22 million. Those parking revenues include increases approved by town officials this year on parking rates on the island to $3 an hour, $17 for the day.

Property taxes and parking revenues are the biggest money makers for the town, allowing it to provide services to residents and visitors year-round. After parking fees and property taxes, the next biggest revenue generator for the town was sales tax which came in just over $1 million.

The town is well aware of the impact parking has on its residents.

“If this revenue source (parking) had to be replaced using Ad Valorem tax, it is estimated that the tax rate would go from $.1275 to $.2444,” according to the draft budget presentation.

Related: Wrightsville Beach made nearly $3 million in parking last year, considering fee hike yet again

The Fiscal Year 2019-2020 proposed budget

Budget season is upon us as localities prepare to approve their annual budgets which begin July 1; for the Town of Wrightsville Beach, the balanced budget shows $15.68 million in expenses and revenues.

As previously mentioned, the town’s property tax rate will remain at $.1275 per $100 of value, but there is an increase in the town’s water and sewage rates to help pay for upgrades to those systems.

Despite the increase in parking fees and the collection of 99% of its property taxes, this year’s budget was difficult for town staff since department heads requested more than $1.1 million more than projected revenues, Town Manager Tim Owens wrote in the budget presentation.

Reduction of benefits, increased cost

When it comes to paying town employees, the budget does have a 1% cost of living increase built into it as well as a 1% merit increase — however, the town Board of Alderman have suspended the merit program and will revisit it in the year, according to the presentation.

Changes in insurance are also being recommended by town staff as the current provider for the town, Blue Cross Blue Shield increased rates by 30%, prompting the town to start shopping for better rates — but only United Health Care opted to provide quotes.

According to the budget draft, “The town will no longer offer a PPO plan this year and only an HSA (health savings account) for employees to select.”

The town will also increase its payment to the HSA plans from $600 to $1000 to help offset the reduced benefits and increased cost to employees spouses or dependents.

Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.P@Localvoicemedia.com

Related Articles