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Oak Island mayor thinks tax hike plan out of line

READ MORE: Oak Island mayor thinks tax hike plan out of line

OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- The mayor of Oak Island is calling out several elected officials now that the town is proposing a tax increase. Oak Island, just like many towns and cities, is trying to balance its budget. One idea proposed by town council is a 2.5-cent property tax increase, but this proposal doesn't fly with the mayor.

Mayor Betty Wallace says that three out of five council members are notorious for overspending. She says their decisions have led to the town's proposed property tax increase. Wallace says it's time for these council members to think of another way to balance the budget.

"At some point they have to understand that we don't have a money tree on Oak Island and they're about to send several more people into financial distress and bankruptcy," Wallace said.

Wallace thinks downsizing in some departments will save the town money. The town will hold its first budget work session Friday. Residents are encouraged to attend and voice their concerns on what should be cut out for the upcoming fiscal year.

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Again, Mr. Bunce is at it. Why don't you run for council or mayor? I wouldnt win because folks are sick of hearing you carrying on.

ToOI Budget

We could talk about me or we could talk about the $30M ToOI proposed budget...

The Town Manager's proposed FY2011 ToOI Budget at nearly $30M is the largest budget in the Town's history before adding in another $1M required for new wastewater system treatment and collection per the FFE. This proposed budget is a 10% plus increase of the current year approved budget, a 23% plus increase over the estimated current year actual budget, and double the budget from just 5 years ago.

This proposed budget includes an 18% property tax rate increase and a 23% property tax revenue increase over the approved budget and a 50% increase over the property tax revenue from just 5 years ago. This proposed budget includes $10.9M in debt service payments and $10.1M plus in salaries and benefits for 150 full time and 50 part time employees plus an unknown number of new wastewater system employees over two thirds of the proposed budget.

Assuming roughly 15,000 revenue paying residents, property owners, and businesses in Town the average amount confiscated by the Town from them is $2000, up from $1000 just 5 years ago.

How many residents and property owners cannot or will not be able to afford ANY health insurance let alone the Cadillac plan they provide the Towns employees. How many will have their homes foreclosed or be forced into bankruptcy? It is more than 150 for sure. This is neither a lean budget nor a budget of shared sacrifice. The Town of Oak Island is not a job bank for the politically connected and the Towns residents and property owner considerations are paramount to all of the Town's officials and employees.

Tonight I present the Lesser Long Beach Government in Exile Alternative Budget. Alternative budget expenses are $6M less than the proposed budget and include the $1M for the new wastewater system operation. This is a 20% reduction in the proposed budget expenses and a 33% cut in other than debt service expenses.

This budget will require significant cuts in other than minimum essential Town services. The service reductions will require a corresponding 33% reduction of roughly 50 Town employees and a significant reduction in remaining employee benefits. Nearly every department will have to participate in the expense reductions.

The alternate budget proposes a Town property tax rate of 5 cents resulting in a 70% reduction in property tax revenue saving the Towns residents and property owners $4.8M. The extra $1.2M in expense reductions over revenue reductions will be used to increase the Town fund balance for use in emergencies in what is expected to be a busy tropical storm season.

The alternate budget improves the Town utility revenue approach to make it more straightforward and equitable. There is no change in the new wastewater system assessment. The Sewer District Fee is changed into four districts with each district paying its own utility capital expenses for the year.

The new wastewater system area SDF will be based on this years estimated $7.9M debt service minus the expected $6.1M assessment revenue divided by roughly 10,000 directly affected property owners resulting in an annual fee of $180 which is more equitable than current scheme of spreading it over just 8,000 utility customers including 1,000 existing wastewater area customers who have already paid the capital costs for their system.

The other proposed SDFs are the existing wastewater area SDF with a fee of $30 to cover existing wastewater system debt service, the SBSD SDF with a fee of $0 and the new bridge corridor SDF with a fee of $100 to begin building a fund to help pay for future wastewater service in that area.

The proposed total water and wastewater utility fees will be lowered to at most an average of less than $50 per month. The fee will use a non volume base fee for all customers to cover fixed O&M costs and a progressive volume based rate to cover costs based on actual water and wastewater flow to encourage water conservation.

The alternate budget proposes changes to the Town wastewater collection system to allow all wastewater from the Island including Caswell Beach to be sent to the County treatment plant for the next several years based on the 201 FP flow estimates allowing the Town to shut down it's treatment plant saving hundreds of thousands in Town expenses since the FFE estimates County treatment costs are half of the Towns treatment costs. The County can then acquire the Town treatment plant and perhaps the SBSD treatment plant to help reduce utility costs for all ToOI residents and property owners including those who are SBSD customers.

Additional alternate budget proposals include shutting down the Town golf course and privatization of the Town pier as it is unacceptable for the Town to compete directly with private business. Eliminate duplication by the Town of County law enforcement, recreation, real property tax collection, and utility services as it is unacceptable that Town property owners also pay a full share of County property taxes for those services. Reduce employee benefits to at most the average benefits of the Towns residents and property owners including HDHCP/HSA plans that can save the Town tens of thousands in expenses. A $6M reduction in Town expenses is just the beginning.

I have no illusion that this Town Council will give any consideration to any of the proposals in this alternate budget. The Town of Oak Island Über Alles adherents believe in the supremacy of the Town of Oak Island and the employees who serve the Town. Perhaps a $2000 bill from the Town and $150 plus utility bills including assessment payment will bring needed change to the Town government next year. In the mean time I suppose we can follow the lead of certain elected officials and forgo next year's property tax payments. We move here to live on the Island of Oak Island and have mostly tolerated the increasing intrusiveness of the Town of Oak Island. It is time for that to end. We can return to the days of a Lesser Long Beach when our life at the beach was our own.

They have gotta go!!!

There is two fold problem on Oak Island:

1. Extremely bad public policy decisions, by some really, really, really bad Board members ie Mary Snead, John Ramsey, and the worst Dara Royal. None of these people have ever met a project or an expense that they didn't like. I could list them, but Christmas is only 7 months away, and I need to do some shopping.

2. Extremely bad incompetent management with a track record of uncontrolled expenses, failed projects, hiring of board members friends, and relatives and relatives of relatives, unnecessary positions, irresponsible budgeting, poor business decisions, bad public relations, unfriendly customer service, abuse of town property by town employees( use of town vehicles for personal use), providing half ass advise to an incompetent town council. In short there is much more wrong than right!!!! Who is this irresponsible wreck- WHY OF COURSE IT IS MR. KNOW NOTHING - JERRY WALTERS.

In summary, they all have got to go. Time for a recall.

ToOI Propsoed Budget

Largest budget in Town history at nearly $30M. $4M higher than current approved budget and roughly 50% greater than actual current budget. Twice the budget of 4 years ago...

Property tax rate increase of 18% and property tax revenue increase of 23%.

Budget document also calls for unspecified utility rate increases to make up for the Managers incompetence in managing the Towns wastewater project.

The Town of Oak Island Über Alles crowd is spending us into oblivion and the bill is coming due. 20% increase in property tax bills and $150 utility bills including the monthly assessment payment will only drive up the already too high foreclosure rate. This is government of the town employee, by the town employee, and for the town employee..

tax increase


Why does the fire department

Why does the fire department need a 3 million dollar budget when they do not run that many calls i know departments that run off of a 1.2 million dollar budget that run alot more calls and has more trucks also

Fire Department

The last time I checked the FD budget was not 3 million dollars, its public record. Most of the FD funding comes from fire fees. According to dispatch records, the FD runs about 1000 calls per year, among the highest in the county, particularly in the summer time. Also, I am told the FD has 5 minute response time to ALL emergencies, fire and medicals. So, do the volume, plus needed equipment, plus personnel and captial expenses that a prior city council approved leads to a high budget. I feel sure that if you called 911 you would expect the best possible service.

If only this sort of

If only this sort of political grandstanding accomplished anything. Maybe the mayor could work with council to find ways to reduce the budget instead calling the ones she doesn't like to task before the process even starts.
Betty would do well to remember she needs to work with council not just show up every time a camera is around and belittle the ones who are not willing to jump at her beck and call.
She sure doesn't mind spending taxpayer money to have a town employee tape every event she shows up at. She also didn't mind being paid $7,000.00 a year when she was doing what everyone thought was volunteer videotaping for the town. In fact she demanded it. I don't know about you but I don't think $7,000.00 dollars a year is volunteering. Funny she didn't care then about the consequence to the taxpayers of Oak Island.

In 6 years, total of $6000 paid to me

This is Mayor Wallace. Don't want to enter the debate on the budget, but I would like to clarify the statements about my compensation when I was the volunteer videographer, lest anyone get the impression that I have not been truthful in my statements on this issue. Several years ago, the amount of videotaping I was doing rose to 40-50 hours a week, which entailed a lot of personal expense; gas, auto wear, meals, etc. I asked for $500/month as a stipend, which the council approved. They also obviously realized the workload, because they created the position of Public Information Officer. The year following, councl decided against that stipend. I still performed all the work I had done for the previous 5 years. I received a total of $6000 for six years as a volunteer videographer. Should anyone wish to verify this, the records are public at request from the Town of Oak Island.

"Guest says "She sure doesn't mind spending taxpayer money to have a town employee tape every event she shows up at. " I have not asked the PIO to appear at any event. If he has been present, it was his decision.

ToOI Council Meeting Video

Ms. Wallace compensation for the several years of taping and editing the Town Council meetings was very little compared to the many hours a month she spent on the cameras and computers turning out a watchable video. Without her dedication to the task the residents of ToOI would not have had an opportunity to see their Town government at work. Her compensation was significantly less than the PIO who is performing that task now including full benefits. Unfortunately in a Council/Manager form of government the Mayor does not have the power required to drain the ToOI swamp. While your complaining though why don't you call up the ex Mayor and ask him to pay his shell corporations Town property taxes. You can look it up here... ... Search for Trace Properties...

I am not complaining simply

I am not complaining simply pointing out some facts. All to often programs start at no cost to the taxpayer but rarely stay that way. I would not argue Betty spent a lot of time taping what I would argue is that it was volunteer time in the way most people think of it. As for the POI he could spend his time on something other than taping if Betty didn't feel the need to have her every appearance taped and broadcast on channel 8.

Looking back to what a former mayor did, did not do, or is not doing has nothing to do with Betty unless you are simply saying we could do worse. I think the expectations of most people are a little higher.

Ms. Wallace Video

Ms. Wallace taped the Council meetings for several years without a stipend and did so during the current year budget without a stipend until the PIO took over. I know as I helped her tape the meetings without a stipend during much of this time. She spent many hours each month other than running the camera to produce quality videos for viewing on Channel 8. She also saved the Town tens of thousands of dollars several years ago in getting the current video equipment purchased instead of the gold plated proposal the Town officials were considering.

The PIO works for the Town Manager who works at the pleasure of the Town Council. The Mayor does not direct the PIO, the Town Manager, or the Town Council. The previous Mayor "ruled" Town Hall when the Council and Manager should have told him to shut up and pay his shell corporations property taxes.

You want to complain about Mayor Wallace's views lets have a discussion, there are several that I disagree with... but keep in mind that the Mayor has no power to set Town policy or direct the Town Manager unless they acquiesce to the Mayor.

It is not the Mayor proposing increasing Town Property Tax revenue 23% or doubled the budget over what it was 4 years ago. It is not the Mayor that performed the flawed engineering on the Town Wastewater System and mismanaged the contractors installing the Town Wastewater System. It is not the Mayor that decided to not partner with Brunswick County in 2002 that has lead to more than a doubling of the Wastewater System cost to at least $150 million and a three plus year delay in completion (see Holden Beach.)

Betty wanted and got

Betty wanted and got $7,000.00 a year to tape the council meetings. You can call it a stipend if you like. Council left that out of the 2009/10 budget. Betty did not ask them to stop paying her they just did. Betty is going about running town hall, or at least trying to, and I think everyone knows that. I wish she wouldn't and it is not was she was elected to do. Hey, maybe you can get her to stop.
I thought the 2.5 cent proposed increase was 18%. As for Betty doing anything but instill fear with groundless rumors of the town going bankrupt or failing to meet bond obligations that would be most welcome. I am at a loss for any reasonable proposal she has made to decrease the tax burden. She falls into the same trap so many politicians do, they want to promise everything and make it happen through magic. Taxes can be cut by reducing services and that is tough to do.
As for all the things you list that Betty did not do you get no argument out of me. I am not sure what your point is. Nobody said she did any of those things but it would be nice if she would try working with council instead of this same old Oak Island blame game.

Town Budget

Town Council approved the stipend. Ms. Wallace asked for something based on the significant hours she expended each month to provide the residents of the Town of Oak Island with Town Council meeting videos. She would have and did continue without the stipend. Ms. Wallace interference with Town business is significantly less than her predecessor. A Town with a lot less business to do would eliminate the ability for this a future mayors to disappear. It is ciritical to keep in mind which elected officials are responsible for these irresponsible budget levels and flawed projects.

If you read carefully you would note the 23% increase is in the Property Tax revenue not property tax rate. It appears you enjoy playing the old rate change game and not the really important number, total revenue extracted by the Town from it's residents and property owners.

The Town officials total mismanagement of the new wastewater project has lead to years of delay and a more than doubling of costs to more the $150 million. Sticking our heads in the sand as the majority of Town officials have done over the last 8 years helps no one. The bond holders deserve to finally hear the truth about the Towns finances.

Reducing services is easy, ToOI budget includes significant non essential services. I will offer a budget alternative at next weeks Public Hearing that will reduce the total budget by $6M plus from the Managers proposal reducing property tax revenue to ~$2M (2 cent rate) and building the emergency fund to restore essential services in case of a storm this summer.

This budget will restore equity in utility rates and not ask those in the existing wastewater service area who are already paying for their capital equipment and should not be required to pay for the capital costs of the new system.

This budget will reduce spendng, taxes, services, and employees. The Town of Oak Island is not a job bank for those in power and their family and friends.

This budget will start the Town on the path of only taxing it's residents and property owners for the truly essential services that a municipal government must provide and allow the beauty of the Island of Oak Island to be shared by all, not just the wealthy who can afford the Town of Oak Island playground for the rich lifestyle.

I think you would find many

I think you would find many people who find this mayor is far more intrusive. Although I see your point about less business less for the mayor to interfere in. I would prefer that the mayor get out of town hall now and quit directing staff as if they are her personal employees.

I should have put a question mark at the end of 2.5 cent or 18% increase. I was wondering if we were using different calculation. In fact we are talking about different things. I am not sure that is a rate change game. It appears you find your calculation to be the important one. Whatever works for you.

Many things have brought the town where it is today You can still find people who think if the town had built its own sewer system, instead of the years of delays by the forces who felt we should partner with the county, we wouldn't be in this position. Who knows who is right and does it really matter? This is the reality we have.

We do have a council/ manager form of government which means Betty does not get to impose her will on anyone. Didn't she know that coming into this? Many of her ideas are so inappropriate it is good she has so little influence. Now it seems she wants to fund the outside agency requests by dipping into accommodations tax fund.

I should also have been clear about the difficulty of reducing taxes. I was speaking of the difficulty for Betty. You will have no problem slashing the budget. It is not likely the mayor will be endorsing your cuts. Of course on any given day or in front of any given audience you never can tell what she might say, so let's wait and see.

Town Budget

I too hope that the Mayor can stay away from the Town Hall. That would be a lot easier if the Town Manager actually made Town information public so that all of us could see what us actually going on in the Town government.

The amount of property taxes extracted from residents and property owners is the important number. Changes in the base allow for manipulation of the rates to near meaninglessness.

The Town Manager today was the buy behind the flawed cost memo in 2002 that provided cover for the Town Council to decide not to partner with the County on the Wastewater System. The same mistakes then are still being made today. The difference is that Holden Beach and the County were up and running several years ago at half the cost.

I believe she knew the role of the Mayor in Council/Manager form of government and stated that during the campaign. It was the previous Mayor who had a problem with that limitation and often took credit for actions of Council. Of course he also went on the local news and claimed he paid his Town taxes when he had not.

I will not be preparing my alternative budget for this Mayor or any Council member but the for residents and property owners of the Town of Oak Island who moved here to be on the Island of Oak Island and are being mugged by the Town of Oak Island.

The town deserves better

The town deserves better than Jerry Walters as a Manager. This is a man who receives well over $100,000 a year in salary, and he has the audacity to make the statement that the theme for this year's budget is "Shared Sacrifice", as he sits in the top floor, corner office, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, of one of the most expensive buildings in Brunswick County with his feet proppped up on his desk. He has got to chuckle to himself at how complacent the voters of Oak Island are, to put him in this position. If you have ever requested an answer from him on any given topic, as a citizen of Oak Island, you have only received a 'response'. A response is not an answer, Until there is a council that is elected to remove this incompetent individual as town manager, there is no hope to have the taxpayers, who are the owners of this town, to be able to take control,

I was paid for one 12-month

I was paid for one 12-month period in which I was dedicating 50-60 hours per week because of outside videography projects other than town council meetings; a total of $500 per month for one year out of 6 years of volunteer work. I requested for that year $500 per month, the council approved it unanimously. I never asked for $7000 per year at any time.

Also, as to the comments on my time at Town Hall, I have been there 3 times in the past 2 weeks; once for a meeting, once to pick up paperwork and on May 22nd to assist in hooking up the computers during the move.

Betty that might have been

Betty that might have been something worth disclosing during your campaign. After all doesn't transparency apply to you?? Or is it up to you to decide what is the public's business and what isn't? I thought you wanted to have sunshine and blue skies in all activities.

As for your pay not being continued the following year that was due to council not including it in the budget. It wasn't from any request on your part that you no longer get paid.

ToOI Budget

Disclosed? It was clearly in the budget. $30M budget, doubled in the last 5 years and ya'll want to discuss payment for doing the Towns video work? I just wonder who guest100 could be... sunshine and blue skies and all...