make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

ONLY ON 3: Future funding for New Hanover Co. beach renourishment in question

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Future funding for New Hanover Co. beach renourishment in question
BEACH.jpg

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Beaches along Pleasure Island need to be renourished and it's going to cost New Hanover County a lot to get it done. According to an agreement still being discussed, the state and federal government will throw in a portion of the price tag, but that funding could soon come to an end.

The county is between a rock and a hard place. New Hanover County Commissioners are at a point where funding beach renourishment could soon be put on the shoulders of the county. Also, it seems the Wilmington Convention Center is making it even more difficult to protect the county's beaches.

Commissioners, along with town leaders from both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, met Thursday to discuss a $14 million beach renourishment project agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers. However, the county may have to give more money than they thought.

“They were going ahead with the beach renourishment as planned and then the state said they would not be responsible for any overages and that threw them into a tailspin,” Kure Beach Mayor Dean Lambeth says.

The project agreement calls for the county to contribute more than $9 million, money that would come from the county's room occupancy tax. For the past three years, at least $3 million that would have gone towards renourishment and tourism promotion has helped pay for the Wilmington Convention Center.

“The convention center is taking in $1 million a year, so yea that would have helped,” Lambeth says.

County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield feels funding for both beaches and the convention center is important, but admits the future for beach renourishment in the county looks a little bleak.

“My concern is that long term what that would mean for that particular fund if the federal government and the state government totally shift the responsibility of beach renourishment down to the local level,” Barfield says. “We've got to find some alternative mechanisms to fund that as well.”

Commissioners will decide Tuesday whether to go through with the agreement and spend the more than $9 million plus any extra costs that could come up. During their Thursday meeting, Commissioners were unsure about having to pay the extra expenses if the project goes over budget. Chairman Ted Davis referred to the agreement as a possible "slippery slope."

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

»

Just released !!

I make no apology for using the Durham Center for Performing Arts as an example of what could lay ahead for Wilmington if the Stadium is built and redevelopment along the River Front occurs. The annual figures for DCPA were released last week and those interested might use the article published in this past Sundays edition of the Greensboro News and Record as reference to the fact that DCPA is the number one attraction venue in the United States with over 400,000 patrons last year. This beats New York City and Vegas. The DCPA returned 1.8 million dollars to the city of Durham. This redevelopment of Durhams inner city was made possible because of the redevelopment of the Durham Bulls Stadium. Now the entire downtown is filled with both commercial and residential growth.
The Wilmington Convention Centers economic impact on Wilmington is far short of it's capabilities but conservative est. would indicate 15 million in revenue for city business owners and over 1 million in tax revenue on sales. I believe The Wilmington Convention Center will continue to show a positive growth pattern and within 5 years become one of North Carolina's most sought after convention sites.

You overlooked a few other tidbits

From the annals of the Greensboro News & Record:

"...But just an hour’s drive east, the Durham Performing Arts Center has netted an operating profit since it opened in 2008.

The city of Durham, which owns the building, shares net profits with the company that runs it. The city’s share has topped $1 million for the past two years and is expected to do the same this year.

Instead of asking voters to approve a bond issue, Durham financed DPAC construction primarily with a form of borrowing called “certificates of participation,” financed with hotel/motel tax revenue..."

Note, unlike the bonds which the city of Wilmington is so fond of issuing, the city of Durham used a vehicle called "certificates of participation" which are financed through hotel/motel revenue.

Also from the Greensboro News & Record "...Operating figures don’t take into account the annual debt service of $2.5 million a year. The city uses its net profits to help pay off that debt and for building maintenance.

“Net profit doesn’t cover all the debt service, nor was it intended to,” said Reginald Johnson, Durham’s interim community development director..."

But more importantly, you misrepresented facts.

The article did not say "...that it was the number one attraction venue in the United States with over 400,000 patrons..."

Your words come back to haunt you.

It stated "...The Durham Performing Arts Center sold more tickets than any other venue of its size in the country in the first half of the year..." Note the qualifier, of its size which is under 5,000 seats.

It further stated "...DPAC beat out such peers as the Fox Theater in Atlanta and the Coliseum in Las Vegas..." It was specific as to venues in Atlanta and Las Vegas. And there was no mention of New York, California, or any other major metropolitan area.

"...Billboard Magazine ranked DPAC third in gross ticket sales for venues that seat under 5,000..."

For 2012 - 2013, it drew slightly more than 400,000 persons and sold out 67 shows.

You also fail to note the site is professionally managed by a New York based firm which manages 23 other sites and which has the ability to book performances for all 24 locations.

That gives them a bit more buying power than a single location convention center.

So when they book Bonnie Raitt, Randy Travis, or Al Green, just to name a few, they are potentially booking them for 24 performances, not just one.

You also fail to note you are comparing a performing arts center with a convention center. Sort of akin to comparing a diamond to some cut glass.

Did you overlook capacity in Durham is 5,000 while at the Wilmington CC, you are only accomodating 1,500?

Do you honestly think locals don't realize the difference between the two and don't understand each type caters to an entirely different market?

Why don't you contact the Convention Center Manager and confirm the dates for the NC Symphony or The Nutcracker. Will that be this year or never?

Is the Convention Center Manager out seeking the likes of Al Green, Bonnie Raitt, or Clay Aiken? All of those parties, and many more are booked into the 5,000 seat Durham facility. How about the Carolina Ballet performing the Nutcracker?

You and your cohorts will say anything to promote your cause of the moment; even to the point of taking statements out of context or just plain not telling the full and unvarnished truth.

In Texas, I am told, they would have a rope and a tall oak tree for those who stray from the truth or try some city slicker stuff.

You should apologize for ignoring the obvious

The Durham baseball park was built in an area of blighted, rundown warehouses and boarded up buildings. Construction of the ballpark could do nothing but improve property values and serve as a stimulus to renovation and rehabilitation for the surrounding properties.

Why do you keep mixing watermelons and grapes in your comparisons?

I'm pretty familiar with Wilmington; and I was very familiar with the area of Durham which underwent transformation and renovation, beginning with the ballpark. There is no area of Wilmington which corresponds with that area of Durham prior to the rehabilitation.

Remember too, that area has Raleigh, Southern Pines, Greensboro, High Point, and Winston Salem from which it draws its support for the arts.

What does Wilmington have to draw on?

Every time you post, you do nothing but sow misinformation and hurt whatever your cause of the day happens to be.

Plus...he left out one huge fact!

Durham isn't much more than a large ghetto anyway. A far cry from what it was during the tobacco era. Duke University sits in the middle of ghetto land. There really aren't many safe places in Durham left any longer.

The deeper argument

This now brings up the deeper argument.
If Mother Nature is doing this and we can't win against her why bother?
Are terminal groins or jetties the answer?
Or do they make the problems worse?
I lived in New England for quite some time and was used to seeing jetties and groins but I am still not familiar with their impact on preventing beach erosion.......
I know they were good spots to fish and crab from

Vog

And if you check

in the Virginia Beach area, you will see groins and sea walls.

But what really has me puzzled is how the self supporting convention center can be costing New Hanover county $1 million a year in support payments.

All of the city funded ball park proponents keep pointing to the Convention Center as a shining example of how the City funding will yield no future costs. At least that is what Duke & MikeT have indicated.

Tom

You let them off way too easy.
The wilmington share of the Room Occupancy tax is $2M (Unless you're figuring "the split".

But its costing way more than that
http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/Portals/0/documents/Finance/Financial%20Repo...

Pg 121
Expenses compared to revenue ($5,436,646)
They had to transfer out of the Special Purpose fund $5,292,990 to make the Convention Center look "better".

The Convention Center Fund is a "PART" of the Special Purpose Fund

But in any event.
I wonder about "dredging" the river versus beach sand re nourishment.
I can see that having our own entity to re nourish beaches and dredge the river might make sense............

Vog

I just don't have the time

to do the indepth research. I pick up on the "Sound Bites"

They reported 113 events @ the Convention Center. But, they fail to report revenues collected as a direct result of the events.

And of course a meeting of 2 individuals, to discuss building a ball park on that over priced piece of river front real estate, qualifies as an event.

Of course, they noted 3,700 hotel rooms rented as a direct result of these 113 events. That's an average of 33 rooms per event. Not certain where they come up with that number.

If the convention center, which is available 365 days per year, and could in fact be available for multiple events on the same day, does this poorly; how do they honestly think a ball park, available 70 days per year for baseball, will have any effect other than to be a drain on the local economy?

Here's a thought if they undermine the Ripkin initiative. Propose a special 3 cent tax rate for hotels and restaurants as well as for the activities of all the retail members of the Chamber and Wilmington Downtown. After all, according to Duke and MikeT, those folks support the ball park overwhelmingly.

If

If we spend every marginal dollar for beach replenishment and nothing else then we are tied annually to this 'funding drive".
Some County residents never use the beach,so should taxpayers pay for sand they never set their feet in?
10 years ago the Cape Fear River was dredged to 42 feet.
This was sold to public as a "commercial need",of which it was.
The LARGER need however was to take the dredged material and cover the beaches after the Hurricanes.
We spend alot on Beach replenishment,and no doubt this is huge for tourism,but why not ask all the merchants in beach communities chip-in,and not the residents?

Duke-

"If we spend every marginal dollar for beach replenishment and nothing else then we are tied annually to this 'funding drive"."

And tourism is not an annual thing? Besides beach sand pumping does not happen at every beach every year. It is costly though.

"Some County residents never use the beach,so should taxpayers pay for sand they never set their feet in?"

Using YOUR logic if 5500 season tickets are sold to the ILM Braves and no one else buys tickets why should ALL city property taxpayers contribute to the stadium? Why should they contribute to the Port dredging?

"The LARGER need however was to take the dredged material and cover the beaches after the Hurricanes."
Now you know the answer to this already. Dredged materials were not put on the beach.
http://www.sbeydo.com/maritime/AC_Stakeholder/USACE_2011-07-01.pdf
"Beneficial Use: good news is sediments contain no significant amount of contaminants. In the past, beneficial use ideas included use for agricultural mix, top soil, etc. If someone had economic use for it, USACE would be very open to supporting this type of beneficial use.
Potential is there, market is not. Pilot study would have to be done. Salt content might be too high. Very sloppy stuff, but does have some good material. However, the good material is used at the CDF for levee maintenance"

Yep the very same study about all state ports including the proposed Southport "super port" indicates that dredged materials are not sand but silt or topsoil.

Beach re - nourishment is different than river dredging. The inlet relocation that saved the Shell Island resort was moving sand a distance of 800 yards and could be pumped.
River dredging is something else entirely.

Vog

The Beaches can not have it all..

The beach communities are profitable.
They keep parking meter revenues.
They keep a high percentage of sales Tax revenue.
Their homes hold appreciation,re-sell for better margins than most homes.
So why can not the beach communities pay for the bulk of the re-nourishment.
The Hotels there,rental properties,restarants,merchants all benefit from yes,another subsidized way of life.
They are quite spoiled,coddled.
Maybe we should spend less on the shore-lines,gives our teachers a raise,and our kids better study materials?
We have a "hollow" economy,and when the Mayor tries to create a "new economy".people go nuts.
Our schools are some of the worst in the State,go buy more sand..

Chuck-

Kure Beach increased property taxes by 2 cents per hundred to pay for beach sand. Carolina Beach has transferred funds to help with beach renourishment.
Sales taxes account for less than 5% of total revenue in both towns.

House prices in the beach towns are 3 times as high as your standard home in Wilmington and THAT translates into very high ad valorum taxes.

These communities are hardly "coddled" and the populations are so small that making them pay for their own beach re nourishment would probably ruin those communities.
And think about this Chuck. None of the beach communities have enough hotel rooms to handle their own tourists so nearby towns and cities (like Wilmington) benefit from their beaches.

Why not let Wilmington Annex them? Hey let the beach sand go away and build your stadium!!!

Vog

Duke

are you on drugs?

Beach homes have lost significant value and are way behind other New Hanover County & city properties in recovering value.

If the beaches erode too severly, then the tourism trade will fade. And then who will attend all of those baseball games in the ball park you would have the city build on that overpriced parcel of river front acreage.

I agree with you. The beach communities, and I live in one in Pender County, should cover more of the replenishment costs. Just as soon as the government cuts Medicaid, free cell phones; puts limits on access to public housing and food stamps; and forces those capable of working to get a job.

We can be in agreement if we meet each other part way.

river dredging vs sand

Chuck-
We need to separate river dredging from beach sand pumping. The actual work may be similar but the materials are not. River dredging involves silt and sand. Beach pumping is sand only.
Here’s a link to a story in 2009 about a leak in the Eagle Island “bulkhead” that leaked dredged materials:
http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/pao/WIR/WIR_I_37.htm

So river dredging is a commercial need with no larger implications for beach sand pumping.

vog

Duke

Why contract this out?
Why not form a Regional Beach Commission?
Have the counties chip in to BUY the equipment, and hire people to do this continuously? When not pumping sand on beaches they could be dredging the Cape Fear and all approaches to it along with inlet dredging.
Share the ongoing costs with the counties in the RBC.

Vog

Duke

C'mon man READ.
Residents haven't paid up to this point. Room occupancy taxes have.
And river dredging was not pumped back on the beaches it was pumped on to Eagle Island if my memory is correct. It was a commercial need and I agree it needed to be done. But I also look at inlet dredging as a commercial need.
Beach sand pumping is needed as tourism brings in hundreds of millions of dollars.
Using your logic - if only 5500 people go the the stadium to watch baseball then all residents should NOT have to pay for it !!!!
Correct?

Vog

If the reporter had bothered

If the reporter had bothered to get some information instead of just repeating what was said, she would have found out that the room occupancy tax money the Kure Beach mayor was talking about is generated by hotels INSIDE the city limits of Wilmington. In fact,hotels inside the city of Wilmington paid for 42% of ALL beach re-nourishment for the entire county last year. That means the beach towns and the county together only paid for 58% of re-nourishment and Wilmington paid the rest, but now they want Wilmington’s money too. Follow that logic and Wilmington should ask the county for money to pay for the riverwalk, which is the city’s biggest tourist attraction.

Renourishment suckers

The chickens have come home to roost. The country is $16 Trillion in debt and counting. The days of the federal goverment spending millions on beach renourishment have come to an end not because politicians like McIntyre want it to stop, but because it HAS to stop due to lack of funding.
THe solution? Increase the occupancy tax enough to pay for beach renourishment. New Hanover county should have seen this situation coming. Now it is time to take positive steps. If people want to use the beaches...the users of them should pay higher occupancy or "users" taxes and stop expecting federal taxpayers in Iowa to pay for beaches they will never use.

but, but, i thought the

but, but, i thought the "inlet relocation" was such a "win, win". not just anybody can turn acres of the most productive estuary in the county into an underwater stackshack hazard to navigation. YAY!!! i can see figure 8 from my parking meter!

Win Win?

RO tax county wide revenues equals $5.993M

The city is siphoning off $2.274M for the CC.

And STILL losing money on it.

No one can claim the CC is successful, nor can they claim the city hotels RO pay for sand. That is an argument totally bereft of any thought or research.

Interesting editorial in yesterdays star news:
http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120902/ARTICLES/120909973/1108/o...

Anyone see Wilmington's contribution?
I must have over looked it.
It loses money - it doesn't contribute to sand needs and it cost way too much.
We will never learn

Vog

So, the obvious solution,

if one watched the movie "Animal House" is not road trip or toga party, it's build a ballpark. Build it on overpriced river front acreage. Lay another albatross around the property tax payers in the city of Wilmington.

Then watch the fiscal reality in 2015 or 2016 when attendance fizzles down. Layoffs in Police, Firefighters, and other city agencies. Reduction in city services. Possibly default on city obligations.

It's happening all across the country. It can happen here if the voting public does not get out to the polls and vote NO for the bond referendum. Send a clear message to City Council.

And then get ready to watch baseball in the Ripkin sponsored project across the river built with no public funds.

Convention center repercussions

I have mentioned in previous posts , what is the county to do when a devastating storm impacts our area beaches ? It has to compete with an ill-advised convention center for dollars from the room occupancy tax. This convention center will be the delusional mayor's legacy. Even for those who are fortunate enough not to live within King Billy's city , they will have to foot the deficit due to the white elephant that sits empty a majority of the time. King Billy has hurt the pocketbooks of all county residents with his irresponsible governance. The beaches will always be a bigger draw than a convention center in a sleepy southern town that competes with larger venues. The decisionmaking of the City of Wilmington is having a negative effect on all county residents. The improvements of infrastructure should be paramount to a politician's wish list , who look to build personal monuments at the expense of taxpayers. The lastest non-transparent project is the construction of taxpayer funded ballpark. Next time the City of Wilmington cries foul over the distribution of taxpayer dollars to municipalities , remind King Billy and his Court of the negative repercussions that his personal monument has on the region.

RG

I agree with that 100%
I laugh at Convention Center people who say its a success.
Record breaking attendance? For whom?
Yes some organizations had higher levels of attendance at our center in the first year but to IMPLY its record setting is disingenuous. From the convention centers website you can see that attendance at this years events is averaging 87 people per event. That is pathetic and most of the events there are local gatherings involving no hotel stays - so revenue is DOWN from first year but still up from when we had nothing.
The question is does it justify the expense? To this I say no.
The article about beach re nourishment tells us why. We NEED those tourists at the beaches.
The same argument holds for the ball park. Will it succeed? I doubt it because we don't support baseball here historically. So if we face a decision of stadium or beach sand which will take precedence?
I say beaches - they are a proven draw.

Vog

Lying again

As usual, you spout your nonsense because you can't stand the fact that all the naysayers were wrong about the convention center. One record-breaking event was the state GOP convention last year, why don't you ask them why they want to come to the river/beach instead of somewhere else to figure out why people want to have conventions here. You are also misleading in your "averages" because as you well know and the website does not detail privately held events. They had over 65,000 people there last year. In January, when the center gave an update, they already had 100 events booked for 2012 in just the first month of the year, I'm sure it's way more now that we are more than half-way through the year. Those 100 events are estimated to bring 8,700 visitors to our area, which will generate more than 3,400 hotel night stays with an overall economic impact of $41.8 million for local businesses. That's why the center is good for our city, but that's too many facts for you, you will no doubt continue to twist numbers and mislead people for your own self-serving interests. Another fact you conveniently forget, the center is funded by hotel room taxes paid by tourists.

still waiting "Mary"

Where's the response?
Where's the links to the budgets for Wilmington or New Hanover County that show the convention Center being such a good investment?
What say you Mary?

Vog

And this

RO tax county wide revenues equals $5.993M

The city is siphoning off $2.274M for the CC.

And STILL losing money on it.

(I haven’t even touched debt service yet either). Just think the CC cost $56.7M.

$56.7M At 4% how much over 20 years?

Mary-
The budgets for both city and county indicate the CC is losing money.
Even when you figure in their "estimated" $49.1M in sales brought in at 6.25% the after tax revenue generated is less than the operating cost losses this year of ($5.5M). And, as stated I haven't touched debt service.
Please cite facts and figures and provide links to them.
That is of course if you're REALLY Mary Osbourne.

Vog

Here is more info for you Mary-

http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/Portals/0/documents/Finance/Financial%20Repo...

Pg 121.
Look at the “current year” column

That says it all
**************************************

Vog

Mary

Maybe you should read the budgets of both the city and the county.
Ah the Convention Center. Nationally, convention center attendance is down (which I would expect in a down economy). Ours is doing better than most as far as use goes. But is it an asset to the city?
The following numbers come from the citys CAFR reports, which use the city fiscal year of June to June.
In 2003 the city started collecting room taxes to build up the CC fund . Based upon the CAFR reports in each year the following indicates the CC fund balances, as known.
$3.0M…….2005
$5.3M……..2006
$7.2M……..2007
$6.65M……2008
$3.26M…….2009expenses exceeded revenues ($3.4M)
$302,000….2010.expenses exceeded revenues ($2.96M)
$158,000…..2011.expenses exceeded revenues ($5.5M) – in 2011 they got $2.27M in revenues

It would appear as though the CC is losing money – and badly so. IF someone says the CC generated $41.8M in sales locally X 6.25% sales tax the city realized $2.61M after tax. (City web page CC tab)
They lost $5.5M in 2011. Outside sales still didn’t make this a good investment. The fund balance is so low it’s scary.

http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/finance/financial_management/financial_repor...
The CC is on pages 106 to 123 normally (it changes yearly)

************************************
C'mon Mary
Using the city/county budget links - show me where the CC made money

Vog

Re: Lying again

Mary,

A meeting of 5 people is classified as an event. Even if the 5 attending work downtown. Not hardly what I would call an economic shot in the arm.

If you would take time to look at the City's budget, you will see a line item for Convention Center.

http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/Portals/0/documents/City%20Manager/Budget/FY...

Look on page 10. Convention Center: $7 Million.

Another fact you're conveniently "forgetting" is that

the hotel room taxes could be used to fund something else that taxpayers are currently paying for directly.

(munch,munch,munch)........... That sound you're hearing in the background is the sound of your giant white elephant scarping down about a million a year in ROC. That by the way, is considerably more tax than is generated for the center on an annual basis.

(tick,tock,tick,tock) .......... That's the sound of time running out on the ROC surplus fund.