Carteret County occupancy tax revenue, used for beach nourishment, was down dramatically in April due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Officials think it will rebound enough over the summer to make it possible to pay for another project, like this one in Atlantic Beach in April. (Carteret County Shore Protection Office photo)

NC - Shore Protection: Beach fund remains healthy amid pandemic-related revenue drop

EMERALD ISLE — Although revenue from the county’s occupancy tax this year is down dramatically because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office thinks the beach nourishment fund is healthy.

Greg Rudolph, speaking Monday during a Carteret County Beach Commission meeting in Emerald Isle’s town commission meeting room, told members of the panel “We have experienced robust visitation in May and thus far in June from just an anecdotal standpoint, and hopefully this will translate to strong occupancy tax collections.”

The beach panel advises Mr. Rudolph’s office, which is responsible for planning and managing beach nourishment projects, largely funded by half of the proceeds from the occupancy tax.

“Undoubtedly, this (decline) is a direct result of state- and federally mandated COVID-19 precautionary measures,” such as stay-at-home orders, prohibitions on short-term rentals and closings of non-essential businesses, Mr. Rudolph said. But the impact has “dwarfed” any negative variables in the past, including the impact of Hurricane Florence in September 2018, which damaged many rental units, some into 2020.

Mr. Rudolph told the commission Monday the estimated value of the nourishment reserve fund at the end of April was about $18.8 million, a figure he arrived at by taking the balance July 1, 2019 – the beginning of the 2019-20 fiscal year – then adding revenue through April and subtracting expenditures through that month. Those expenditures include the bulk of the costs associated with Bogue Banks beach nourishment projects in 2019 and 2020.

“May revenue will also be down,” he added, “but maybe not as much as we initially thought.”

Read more.