News

Budget Highlights Include Wellness Clinic, Public Safety, Parks & More

The Currituck County budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022 was approved  by the Board of Commissioners on June 7, 2021. It contains several items that will save money for the county and provide benefits for the community. Currituck County aims to continue providing a high level of services for the public, while being good stewards of taxpayer funds through sound financial management.

Highlights of the budget include:

Wellness Clinic – Operated in partnership with Albemarle Regional Health Services, a new wellness clinic in Currituck County will employ a nurse practitioner. Located primarily at the Judicial Center, this will be a site for county employees to use for primary healthcare services. Its proximity to county offices will significantly reduce the amount of time employees are absent from work due to healthcare visits and promote better health practices by county staff. The clinic staff will also provide services in Corolla on a regular schedule.

This clinic will also be open to the public, providing an additional healthcare facility for local citizens.

Public Safety – The Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, Fire-Emergency Medical Services, 911 Communications, and Emergency Management are fully funded to maintain appropriate equipment, training, and staffing. The county is also working with the Sheriff’s Office and Fire-EMS on staff classifications to provide better career pathways for advancement. New public safety vehicles will include eight patrol vehicles and a boat for the Sheriff’s Office, one truck for Animal Control, two ambulances for Fire-EMS, one vehicle for Emergency Management, and three trucks for Inspections. The Communications Center will receive equipment upgrades for the 911 system.

Currituck has an excellent team of public safety professionals and volunteers, and this budget reaffirms the Board of Commissioners’ commitment to public safety.

Public Works Facility – The county plans to build a warehouse, with office space for Public Works staff, near the Currituck Regional Airport. This will enable the county to purchase and store certain items used by all departments (ex. paper goods) in bulk amounts to save money. The warehouse will also be used during hurricanes and other critical events to store relief supplies for the community.

Fuel Station – The fuel station for county vehicles, located at the Currituck Regional Airport, will be upgraded. A new tank will increase fuel storage capacity, which will save money through bulk purchasing and protect the county during times of fuel shortages. New fuel pumps will prevent costly maintenance shutdowns that frequently occur with the current equipment.

Cybersecurity – Currituck will continue investing in the protection of our Information Technology system. This is a critical need, as local governments nationwide face constant threats to IT security. This also enhances the safe keeping of citizens’ private information in county records.

Currituck Regional Airport – Currituck will renovate the airport terminal’s interior space with new carpeting and furniture. The airport is very popular among pilots for its low fuel prices and the facility has enjoyed an increase in visitors in recent years. This has allowed the airport to turn a profit for the county in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Therefore, the county will invest funds back into this facility and make the airport terminal more accommodating for guests.

Utility Upgrades – Improvements to the county’s utility infrastructure will include two new wells for the water system. The county also plans to install a new booster pump to improve water flow within the southern part of the mainland water system.

County Parks – Improvements to be made at county parks and recreational facilities include replacing the playground equipment at Sound Park, replacing the roof of the picnic pavilion at Veterans Park, resurfacing the tennis courts at Moyock Middle School, and beginning design of Phase 3 expansion at Community Park. The Board of Commissioners will also attempt to purchase land in Gibbs Wood for a park site. The Currituck County Rural Center will receive 12 portable stalls for animals during events held at that facility. By using occupancy tax, the county will fund a new playground at Historic Whalehead Park and complete replacements of three beach walkovers at public access points.

County Budget Impacts and Information for Citizens

Currituck County has prepared the Operating Budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022 and is providing this webpage to show how certain items may affect residents and property owners.  The factors of property tax rate, water and sewer utility rates, and solid waste fees may impact monthly and annual bills for citizens.

To illustrate these changes, Currituck County GIS staff created a helpful Online Data Map. An individual can enter their address and  see how much they would pay at the proposed property tax rate, along with other estimated rate or fee increases. Using data provided by the Currituck County Tax Office, this map shows:

  • 2020 property value
  • 2021 property value
  • 2021 property tax amount at a revenue neutral rate of $0.4143
  • 2021 property tax amount at the proposed rate of $0.46
  • Additional impacts, if applicable to the property:
      • Water and sewer utility rates
      • Solid waste fees
      • A new Moyock Township Watershed Improvement Service District Tax

When using the Online Data Map, click on the search icon in the upper right corner and then enter your address in the text box that opens.  Or you can zoom in on the map and click on your property. Using either method, a text box will open with data for your property.

** For each of these budget factors, an explanation for the changes is included below.

Property Tax Rate:

Currituck County completed a Tax Revaluation for 2021 that resulted in a new countywide tax base of $7.9 billion. This represents an overall increase of approximately 20% in total property value.

The current property tax rate in Currituck County is $0.48.  Because of the revaluation, the Board of Commissioners may decide to adjust this rate. Currituck County has traditionally adhered to a “revenue neutral” approach regarding the property tax rate. This means the county collects approximately the same amount of total property taxes as it collected the year before. As a result of the revaluation, the new revenue neutral tax rate would equal $0.4143.

However, Currituck County will implement a property tax rate of $0.46, which is one of the 9 lowest rates of all 100 counties in North Carolina. The additional funding generated by this tax rate will pay for staffing and capital needs of the Currituck County School System. Our schools are facing significant pressures due to unfunded state mandates and the consistent residential growth throughout the community. The Board of Commissioners and Board of Education have worked together to develop a plan for managing this growth. Investing in the future of our children’s education requires additional funding.

A property tax rate of $0.46 would generate $3,650,000 more than the revenue neutral rate. From this amount, $3,642,427 would be used for the following needs of the school system:

  • $1,292,427 for 12 additional teachers to meet new unfunded state mandates relative to class size; 10 teacher assistants; and 2.5 curriculum coaches.
  • $1,600,000 put into savings for construction of new elementary school that is planned to open in August 2025.
  • $750,000 put into savings to fund annual operating costs of the new elementary school.

The remaining $7,573 would be placed in the county’s General Fund.

FYI – Additional facets of the growth plan for Currituck Schools include purchasing six mobile classroom units and expanding Moyock Elementary School and Moyock Middle School. These projects are funded by savings the county accumulated in recent years and are not factored into the proposed property tax rate.

Water and Sewer Utility Fees:

Currituck County had a comprehensive water and sewer rate study performed by Raftelis Financial Consultants, which was presented in March 2021. Four funds were analyzed: Mainland Water, Mainland Sewer, Ocean Sands Water and Sewer, and Southern Outer Banks Water System. This study helped the county develop a 10-year plan to ensure financial stability of each system.

Due to increasing operating expenses, maintenance costs, capital improvement needs, and system expansion, the rates will see an annual increase of 3.5% for the next 10 years for the Mainland Water, Ocean Sands Water and Sewer, and Southern Outer Banks Water System. For the Mainland Sewer system, there will be a 6% annual rate increase for the next 10 years.

The impacts to a customer’s utility bill for the upcoming fiscal year of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 are below (based on an average customer usage of 5,000 gallons per month):

  • Mainland Water: + $1.17 per month
  • Ocean Sands Water and Sewer: + $2.73 per month
  • Southern Outer Banks Water System: + $1.40 per month
  • Mainland Sewer: + $4.83 per month

Solid Waste Fees:

Raftelis Financial Consultants also completed a review of Currituck County’s solid waste funds for the mainland/Knotts Island and Corolla. This information was used to develop a 10-year plan to ensure financial stability.

Currituck County faces significant increases in operating expenses for the collection and disposal of solid wastes. This is not under the county’s control, as contractors which provide services have consistently raised prices. This is a national trend. To maintain current services, including the curbside collection of trash and recycling in Corolla, there will be a one-time annual rate increase of 40% for the upcoming fiscal year followed by an annual increase of 3.5% for the next 10 years.

The impact to customers for the upcoming fiscal year:

  • Mainland: + $81
  • Corolla: + $151

Moyock Township Watershed Improvement Service District:

The intent of the service district is to provide a comprehensive approach to storm water management in Moyock. This service district will collect a tax of $0.015 from property owners within the district to fund improvements and maintenance of nearly 90 miles of ditches.  This will allow for systemwide improvements and help alleviate drainage problems in underserved areas.

Detailed information has been mailed to residents and property owners within the proposed district. The plan also includes the dissolution of three current, smaller districts: Guinea Mill, Northwest, and Moyock Watershed Improvement. A map of the new district can be found here.

County officials discuss schools’ growth plan

As Currituck County continues to experience consistent residential growth, local leaders are working together to effectively manage the pressures that come with an increasing population. One key area being addressed is the school system. County officials recognize the importance of making sure the county’s educational facilities keep pace with growth.

The Board of Commissioners and Board of Education have developed an effective plan to manage growth.  This plan includes strategies such as using mobile classroom units, expanding certain facilities, and building new schools.

To learn more, please take a few minutes to watch this new video. The county’s strategy for the school system is discussed by Mike Payment, Chair of the Board of Commissioners; Karen Etheridge, Chair of the Board of Education; Dr. Matt Lutz, Superintendent of Currituck County Schools; and Ben Stikeleather, Currituck County Manager.

Business reentry permits now available online

Currituck County Emergency Management offers a more efficient system for Corolla businesses to obtain reentry permits in time for the 2021 hurricane season. A new web address, www.currituckreentry.com provides a one-stop shop for local businesses to secure reentry permits for their employees. These permits are necessary to enter Corolla after an evacuation of the Outer Banks.

Following an evacuation, reentry into Corolla is performed in a tier system. Priority I (Essential Personnel) and Priority II (Critical Businesses) both require employees to display Currituck County reentry permits at law enforcement checkpoints. Critical businesses allowed in Priority II must be physically located in Corolla or transient in Corolla or Carova Beach.

On www.currituckreentry.com, each business must complete the online permit application. Once an application is approved by Currituck County Emergency Management, permits will be sent via email to the business. This eliminates the need for paper applications and mailing paper reentry permits, thereby saving time for businesses and money for the county. With this improved efficiency, Emergency Management staff can devote more time to situational tasks during a hurricane or other critical event that might require an evacuation.

Reentry permits expire annually on April 30. Businesses are advised to secure their permits well before the start of hurricane season, which is recognized as June 1. For complete details, please visit www.currituckreentry.com. Anyone with questions regarding the reentry process may contact Currituck County Emergency Management at 252-232-2115.

Library reopens for in-person visits

All three Currituck County Public Library locations are open to the public and are continuing to offer curbside services as well.

  • The Barco and Moyock Libraries are open Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • The Corolla Library is open Monday – Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Masks are required to be worn by all individuals inside the library and library patrons are asked to practice social distancing.

The library’s summer reading program will begin June 14 and will continue for 7 weeks. It will consist of curated activities following the “To-Go” format as well. For more information, visit the library’s Facebook page or contact one of the library branches in Currituck County:

  • Barco:  252-453-8345
  • Corolla:  252-453-0496
  • Moyock:  252-435-6419

Revaluation information for property owners

The Currituck County Tax Department will soon be mailing revaluation notices to property owners.  These new property values are the result of the revaluation and assessment process that was performed in 2020.

Tracy Sample, Currituck County Tax Administrator, provides helpful information in this new video about the revaluation and gives property owners an idea of what to expect. It also helps to explain the appeals process if a property owner disputes the assessed value.

If you have any questions regarding the revaluation or making an appeal, contact the Tax office at 252-232-3005.

Senior Center reopens after long COVID closure

After a very long wait, the Currituck Senior Center reopened on, Monday, March 22. The facility had been closed for more than a year due to the COVID pandemic.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work towards full reinstatement of programs, activities, and services in the months ahead. All services, operational hours, and capacity limitations are subject to change based on state health restrictions and county recommendations. Because of the ongoing pandemic, some temporary safety measures are being implemented to protect the seniors, staff, and volunteers.

The temporary safety precautions include:

  • All activities and programs are by APPOINTMENT ONLY. No walk-ins are allowed.
  • You will not see all of the same programs at this time. Programs have been limited to those that can minimize touching of the same objects and encourage social distancing.
  • You may sign up for activities 1 day in advance. You are also welcome to call the day of to check for availability. *We are operating at a limited capacity – this will allow everyone a fair opportunity to get their name on the list.
  • NO on-site Nutrition will be offered. Meal pickup is available at the Barco location.
  • Face masks are required while you are at the senior centers.
  • Operational hours are restricted, and hours may vary by location.
  • Upon activity sign up, additional safety measures and restrictions will be provided.

You can check on available programs and sign up by contacting the Senior Center facility you wish to visit: Currituck, 232-3505; Knotts Island, 429-3231; or Powell’s Point, 491-8173.

Please check out this short video on the Senior Center reopening.

 

Tourism event grant applications due by April 15

The Department of Travel and Tourism offers a business event grant program to help local community groups, non-profit organizations, and tourism-related businesses draw visitors to our county. This focuses on assisting non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses to produce quality events.

Grants awarded to individual events will not exceed $20,000. Individual organizations and businesses can receive more than one grant per fiscal year, but the totals for the grants cannot exceed $20,000.

Applications are due by April 15.  Criteria include:

  • Applicant must be in Currituck County or partnering with a Currituck County applicant.
  • Applicant must meet with Tourism Director.
  • Additional consideration will be given to shoulder and off season events.
  • Majority of attendees must be from outside Currituck County.
  • Applications accepted March 1 to April 15 for events beginning on or after July 1.
  • The Tourism Advisory Board will evaluate and recommend funding awards to the TDA.
  • Application must receive the majority vote of the TDA for final approval.

For more information, contact the Travel and Tourism Department at 252-435-2947.

Board reverses course on Corolla recycling

After receiving a significant amount of feedback from county residents and property owners, the Currituck County Board of Commissioners has reversed an earlier decision to eliminate the curbside recycling collection service provided in Corolla. Therefore, the collection of recycling materials and household trash in Corolla will continue in its current format.

Currituck County previously announced that Corolla’s curbside collection service would only include household trash after April 4, 2021.  The plan included placing self-serve recycling containers at the Pine Island Fire Station for Corolla residents to dispose of recyclable goods on their own. Reasons for this proposed change included the increasing costs for Currituck County, the lack of a robust recycling market to accept materials, and the rising number of times Currituck County has recycling containers rejected due to the presence of household trash in the container. This happens very frequently in Corolla during the summer tourist season. Each container rejected adds to the cost of solid waste disposal for the county.

Since announcing the original decision in February, the Board of Commissioners heard from many citizens of Corolla who supported the idea of maintaining the curbside recycling service. Many supported paying a higher solid waste fee to the county for the convenience of curbside recycling. Therefore, the Board has decided to continue its contract with Bay Disposal for the curbside collection of trash and recycling.  As a result, residents and property owners in Corolla will see a small increase in their solid waste bills.

Anyone with questions regarding their curbside trash and recycling collection in Corolla may contact the Currituck County Public Works Department at 252-232-2504.