In this issue:
- Recap of Village Council regular meeting
- Schedule changes for Dosher Clinic on BHI
- Dredging equipment in the channel expected to be removed next week
- Are you paying your occupancy taxes?
- Candidates for 2021 municipal election
- How to vote in the 2021 municipal election
- An update from Duke Energy
REMINDERS: Stage 1 water conservation alert rescinded, drone flights.
- NC has lifted most mandatory mask mandates, all mandatory capacity, gathering limits, and social distancing requirements. The May 14, 2021, Executive Order has been extended through July 30, 2021
- Vaccinations are still available to everyone ages 12 and up
- Masks are required for all visitors (unvaccinated and vaccinated) in the Public Safety Building. For all other Village buildings (Village Hall, IPC/PO, Contractor Services) masks are optional for vaccinated persons, required for unvaccinated – Village staff will not ask for vaccination status.
- For the ferries, masks are now only required on the ferry if you are riding in the cabin.
Regular Council Meeting – The Village Council conducted its regular meeting on Friday, July 16, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Here is a summary of the information shared and the actions that were taken at this meeting:
A Lighthouse Day Weekend proclamation was approved with the Consent Agenda. Under Old Business the Village Council unanimously approved the annual agreement delegating authority for the sale of daily vehicle permits between the Village and BHI Limited. There was discussion regarding Village landscaping projects. Staff will be including landscape architect services in the request for proposal for the new Village Hall. The scope will include the new Village Hall and the old Village Hall and Island Package Center and Post Office property. The Village Manager indicated that there has been discussion at the staff level about contracting out landscaping services. The Council received input from staff on the status of COVID-19 in the community. There were no changes recommended in the Village’s current response. Masks are required for everyone visiting the Public Safety Building because of the presence of the Dosher Clinic. Other Village buildings require visitors to wear a mask if they are not vaccinated (Village staff will not request the vaccination status of visitors).
Under New Business the Deputy Village Clerk administered the oath of office for Public Safety Director Alan May. May had been sworn in when he started serving the Village last September. He was re-certified for law enforcement in NC and had just completed that process, so he was sworn in again. The Village Council adopted three resolutions related to the Village’s 2021 Voted Bond Authorization, in which the Council made required findings, introduced the bond order, and authorized the public hearing on the bond order which is set for August 20, 2021. The Village has since released an overview of its considerations, findings, and next steps as it considers acquiring the BHI transportation assets. Included in this release was a document comparing the Bald Head Island Transportation Authority (BHITA) and the Village in terms of financing, capital improvements/deferred maintenance, governance/accountability, transition, operations, employee compensation, and emergency operations. The Village plans on making a presentation to the public prior to the August 20 public hearing. The presentation will be via Zoom and is tentatively set for August 14, 2021. Also, under New Business, the Council discussed renovating the existing Village Hall and potential uses for it when the new Village Hall is constructed. Councilor Quinn had approached the BHI Conservancy about using the building as a satellite location.
The Village Manager updated the Council on several items to include the status of the LGC approval of financing for Contractor Services, stormwater management activities, the new cell tower, the status of the new ADA beach access, and the hiring of an Assistant Village Manager. Below are a few details on the information he shared:
- LGC Approval of Installment Financing for Contractor Services – The Village’s application for installment financing of the Contractor Services improvements was approved by the Local Government Commission (LGC) on July 13, 2021.
- Stormwater Management – The connection of Lagoon 3A to Lagoons 6 & 7 is complete. The water levels have been low compared to when they were surveyed, but it is expected when there is more rain that there will be a full connection. The Village will continue to keep an eye on it.
- New Cell Tower – Crown Castle had to pour concrete last week, and this was to be the final step as far as the construction of the new cell tower. There will be some follow-up work as far as grading, fencing, and installing vegetative buffer. This will be completed before the old tower is taken down in the fall or early winter. Bellsouth is ready to move its dishes to the new tower. There is no schedule so far for other service providers moving to the new tower. Please contact your service provider if you are experiencing service issues.
- ADA Beach Access – The Public Services Director has received three bids for the construction of the new access and parking area. One of the bids was reasonable and responsive, so construction should start soon. The access will be located a few lots east of Beach Access #15 which had been an ADA access until sand built up on it over time making it steep. Steps were put in before this peak season when many of the Village’s beach accesses were maintained. The Village is directing folks to the emergency vehicle accesses which do not have steps. These are at Beach Access 11, 24B, 35, and 42. Beach Access #42 is the access with the shortest distance to the beach and is the one used most by folks who borrow the Village’s beach wheelchair. The beach wheelchair can be borrowed from the Department of Public Safety. More information on the wheelchair can be found HERE.
- Assistant Village Manager- Jae Kim has accepted the Assistant Village Manager Shoreline Protection Manager position with the Village. He will start working for the Village on August 18, 2021.
There was discussion regarding the lack of public facilities on the east end of the island. Councilor Quinn reported that beachgoers have been using commercial establishments and it has been a chronic problem. The Village Manager said that this issue was discussed in 2005/2006 and that several properties were identified, but the Council did not pursue it at the time because there were not enough numbers to justify a demand. The Village Manager shared several vacant properties that could work as a site for public facilities. The Village Council directed the Village Manager to approach the owner of the lot next to the BHI Conservancy along Captain Charlie’s Trail. This property was chosen because it had the least amount of impact on surrounding residential properties. The Village Council went into to closed session to consult with the attorney regarding property acquisition.
A full account of these meetings can be found in the minutes which are posted HERE. Typically, minutes are posted with the agenda of the next month’s meeting (ex. If you want to read the May meeting minutes, they will be found under the June regular meeting agenda).
Dosher Clinic on BHI – Beginning this week, the Dosher Clinic on Bald Head Island will be operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only. The hours of operation will remain the same, 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The clinic will run through Friday, September 3, 2021. For those who may not know, the clinic is in the Public Safety Building located at 273 Edward Tech Extension. Patients must call 910-457-5252 before coming to the clinic. For a medical situation that cannot wait, visitors and residents of Bald Head Island may call the Convenient Care in Southport at 910-454-4732 for minor illnesses Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 6:30 pm, and for more serious emergencies, the Emergency Department at Dosher Memorial Hospital is a five-minute drive from the Bald Head Island ferry terminal in Southport.
Dredging Equipment – According to the Village’s contact at Great Lakes Dredge and Dock (GLDD) the dredging equipment that is staged near Battery Island along the ferry route should be removed next week. Ferry vessels typically must slow down while passing this equipment so this will be a relief to many.
Occupancy Taxes – All property owners who rent their homes on a short-term basis are required to remit occupancy taxes (also referred to as accommodation taxes or room occupancy taxes) to the Village of Bald Head Island. A short-term rental is defined as any accommodation that is rented for less than 90 days to the same person but does not include a property rented for less than an overall total of 15 days during the calendar year which has not been listed with a rental agency.
The rate of collection is 6% of the gross rental fee collected. The gross rental fee is inclusive of additional fees charged to the rental guest. A list of the additional fees subject to occupancy taxes can be found on the Village’s website HERE. The revenues collected are used to promote local tourism, including, but not limited to, shoreline development and beach re-nourishment.
Occupancy taxes apply to the same transactions that are subject to state sales taxes on accommodations mandated by G.S. 105-164.4(a)(3). So, if you are responsible for occupancy taxes to the Village of Bald Head Island, you must also register with the NC Department of Revenue and submit sales taxes on the same transaction.
In order to determine who is responsible for the collection and remittance of occupancy taxes to the Village, it is first necessary to determine the type of platform in which the property is being rented. Keep in mind that regardless of how the taxes are remitted, it is the homeowner or their agent’s responsibility to file a tax report with the Village on a monthly basis. The monthly tax report form is available on the Village’s website HERE. It is important to note that these tax reports are confidential and not subject to a public information request.
If the property is owned or rented by a business, such as a bed and breakfast, or if a homeowner advertises and rents directly to individuals, the transaction is referred to as a retail transaction, and the retailer must collect and remit occupancy taxes to the Village.
If the property owner contracts with a facilitator, such as Airbnb, HomeAway (VRBO), or Trip Advisor, the facilitator will collect and remit occupancy taxes on the property owner’s behalf. It is still the property owner’s responsibility to file a monthly tax report with the Village and provide proof that the facilitator has made payment.
If the property owner contracts with a rental agent, that rental agent is responsible for collecting and remitting all occupancy taxes to the Village. The assumption is that the rental agent will provide each property owner with a statement showing that the taxes have been paid.
It is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure all taxes collected on each rental are properly remitted to the Village.
Reminders and Due Dates for Owners of Rentals
- Tax Reports are due each month on the 20th day of the month following the rental.
- Sales tax reports are due to the NC Department of Revenue on the 20th day of the month following the receipt of rental income. Click HERE for the sales and use tax website.
- Renting a property is considered a business enterprise. North Carolina requires all businesses to pay personal property taxes on all business personal property. Click HERE for more information on filing your personal property tax return.
- Don’t forget insurance! Some platforms automatically include extra insurance, but don’t assume they all do, and liability and property insurance provide different coverages. Review your coverage with your insurance agent to make sure there are no surprises.
2021 Municipal Election Candidates – Candidate filing for the next municipal election ended last Friday, July 16, 2021, at noon. This year there are three vacancies on the Village Council, the mayor (which is currently held by Andy Sayre), and two council members (which are currently held by Scott Gardner and Emily Hill). Lou Ann Earnhardt and Peter Quinn have filed to run for mayor. Robert Drumheller, Scott Gardner, Emily Hill, and Nathan McBrayer have filed to run for councilor. Best of luck to all candidates! Thank you for your willingness to serve.
How to Vote in the 2021 Municipal Election – The Brunswick County Board of Elections conducts all federal, state, county, municipal, and special elections in accordance with federal and state law and State Board of Elections policy. Bald Head Island is in precinct 7 and the precinct name is Southport 1. The current polling location is The Brunswick Center at Southport at 1513 N Howe Street in Southport. Below is a schedule for the 2021 municipal election provided by the Brunswick County Board of Elections (BCBOE). There are several options for registering to vote in Brunswick County. Voter registration information can be found on the BCBOE website HERE. The main webpage for the BCBOE is HERE. Questions about the 2021 municipal election should be directed to BCBOE by calling 910-253-2620 emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duke Energy Update (submitted by Duke Energy) – A key component to the major grid improvements on the island is creating an unground self-healing system with the ability to isolate outages and create back feeding options automatically.
We have custom engineered automatic switchgear that is a first of its kind for Duke Energy in the Carolinas. This month, the final switchgear traveled by barge to the island. Our centralized control center is reviewing final plans to incorporate the automatic technology into our power grid system.
We continue to appreciate your patience as we’re working hard to upgrade the island’s energy grid. We plan to have this multi-year project on the island completed by the end of the year.
If you have questions or feedback, you are welcome to contact Danielle Peoples at Danielle.Peoples@duke-energy.com.
- Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert Rescinded – The Village has been monitoring the drought level, which was considered moderate until earlier this month. Brunswick County rescinded its Stage 1 Water Conservation Alert on July 8, 2021 and is encouraging continued use of its recommended irrigation schedule. For more guidance on the County’s recommendations, view the County’s media release HERE.
- Drone Flights – The Bald Head Island Conservancy will be conducting drone flights to image beach vitex throughout the summer during the growing season (when it’s green). They will be starting on the west side of the island and will work their way east. Flights will be conducted around mid-day. For more information, please view THIS information sheet.
Governor Cooper completely lifted most mandatory mask mandates, all mandatory capacity, gathering limits, and social distancing requirements on May 14, 2021. The mask mandate will remain in effect on public transportation (which means the Bald Head Island Transportation, Inc. ferries and trams), in childcare, in schools, in prisons, and in certain public health settings at least through July 31, 2021, when the latest Executive Order is due to expire. The state continues to recommend that unvaccinated people wear masks and is strongly urging them to get vaccinated.
Vaccines – All persons aged 12 and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines (12-17 are eligible for Pfizer only). The COVID-19 vaccines are free. The State’s vaccine finder at myspot.nc.gov provides information on where folks can receive a shot. More information about vaccines can be found at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.
Brunswick County Case Numbers – The latest NC County Alert System report indicated that there is one “red” county, 29 are “yellow”, 50 are “light yellow”, and 19 are “green.” Brunswick County is still green! (We were green last month too). Green means there is low impact on county hospitals and that the case rate was less than 10 cases per 100,000 people in 14 days.
Case numbers were typically updated daily on Brunswick County’s dashboard on THIS WEBSITE. The County experienced technical issues and this site will direct citizens to the State’s COVID-19 dashboard until the County dashboard is up and running.
Masks Required for All at Public Safety – Per Council instruction, all visitors (unvaccinated or vaccinated) are required to wear masks in the Public Safety Building. Starting on Friday, June 18, 2021, masks became optional for vaccinated persons and mandatory or unvaccinated persons who enter the IPC/PO, Village Hall, and Contractor Services. Village Staff will not be asking customers for their vaccination status. The Council will review this policy monthly, no changes were made to the policy in July.
Masks Required in Ferry Cabins Only – On June 23, 2021, the NC Utilities Commission issued an ORDER making the mask requirements on BHI ferries consistent with US Coast Guard and Governor’s Orders for public transportation, masks will continue to be required if seated inside the cabin area and not required if seated outside of the cabin.