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By Connie Leinbach
The Occupancy Tax Board will hold a special public meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 in the Community Center to discuss how to spend a $400,000 surplus in the fund.
While the Hyde County commissioners on May 7 approved $503,617 in Occupancy Tax grants for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year for island nonprofits, the board learned that they will be able to make further one-time distributions. Individual funding requests will not be addressed at this meeting.
Hyde County Finance Officer Corrinne Gibbs said the total Occupancy Tax fund balance is expected to be more than $900,000 by June 30 and that that the board will have to spend more of this pending balance.
“You’re not in the business of making money,” she said told the board on April 10.
Ocracoke’s county commissioner, Tom Pahl, suggested to Bob Chestnut, OT board chair, that he, Hyde County Manager Bill Rich and Commissioner Chair Earl Pugh Jr. confer with Chestnut about a procedure as to how to make further grants for local “infrastructure” needs.
But Chestnut questioned why such a conference was needed since occupancy tax grants are community-driven.
“The conversation should be that the community comes up with what it wants, and the county commissioners approve it or not,” he said.
Chestnut said all are welcome to brainstorm about dispersing these monies and said that those who can’t attend the meeting may email him at email@example.com.
State law says the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board is advisory. It receives proposals for distribution of 3 percent of the total 5 percent occupancy tax funds levied on island lodging rentals and the Hyde County commissioners approve it.
The additional 2 percent of occupancy tax began Jan. 1 and the new Tourism Development Authority was approved last year to manage this fund.
The TDA is an independent entity and distributes funds strictly for island promotion and tourism, according to the state statute authorizing it.
The TDA is in the process of contracting with the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association for marketing implementation.
In April, this board approved an appropriation of $251,000 of the $300,000 expected to be raised this year to cover paid advertising and island staff.
Island organizations receiving grants from Occupancy Tax funds for the 2018-2019 fiscal year are as follows: Friends of the Library, $2,815; Ocracoke School Arts Week, $4,858; Ocracoke Decoy Carvers Guild, $10,025; Ocracoke Health Center, $12,133; WOVV 90.1 FM radio, $17,535; Ocracoke Alive, $28,500; Ocracoke Community Center, $33,295; Hyde County, $45,000; Ocracoke Youth Center, $48,000; Ocracoke Preservation Society, $48,000; N.C. Coastal Land Trust, $50,000; Ocracoke Civic & Business Assn., $82,833; Ocracoke Fire Protection Assn., $120,000.