Battle brewing over proposed tax increases for boardwalk businesses

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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — A battle is brewing in Carolina Beach over a proposed tax increase for businesses on the boardwalk.

Property values in New Hanover County have risen by about 30 percent on average this year. And with higher values comes more business, more tourists, and bigger budgets to accommodate growing services.

“As you look through the budget as a whole,” Carolina Beach councilman, Lynn Barbee, “that’s going to require an increase in revenue. And revenue for a town is taxes.”

It’s something boardwalk business owners, like David Cole say blindsided them. Many restaurants are working with limited hours, still struggling to hire enough help.

“It’s never good timing to get taxed. But it’s terrible timing. It’s terrible,” Cole said.

The proposed increase would base rates off of new property values, dropping tax rates for the general public down to 22.5 cents.

“Which is actually lower than our current rate,” Barbee explained. “That confuses some residents. But because of the increased value, most residents could see a slight increase in their taxes.”

The proposal would also establish the boardwalk and all businesses from the Marriot to the Marina as a municipal service district in order to pay for additional services used in the high traffic area.

“There are more police and fire calls in that area,” the councilman continued. “We have a full-time employee that cleans that area. On a daily basis from taking care of the boardwalk, to power washing sidewalks, things like that.”

Cole countered, “Well I think the town should provide that anyway.”

For a property valued at $675,000, the municipal service district tax would cost $28 a month. It’s a relatively low cost, but with substantial implications for boardwalk business’s future, Cole felt.

“They shortfalled last year because of COVID. And now this year, they’re trying to pick it up. And they want me to foot the bill for it.”

According to the proposal, the increase would also mean more police presence, better lighting and sidewalks, and more public restrooms.

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