Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dillon Owes Apology

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Carol Dillon
A charge leveled at the Dare Commissioners, by businesswoman Carol Dillon, during their meeting in Buxton this week, and reported by the Outer Banks Sentinel, was wrong and completely out of order. Dillon, who has been fighting passionately for years to get beach nourishment behind her Buxton motel directed her comment to chairman Bob Woodard and said he and the board had lied when they said they were going to Washington, DC after the April 13th meeting in order to seek federal funding to help get the nourishment project done this year.
Chairman Bob Woodard

Dillon needs to refresh her memory, or go back and view the video of the April 13th meeting, and then apologize to Woodard and his board.

Actually, the idea of going to Washington was brought forth by commissioner Warren Judge who said (quote) "it's a crazy idea'...but he would be willing to be a part of the delegation.

His suggestion was met with a question from commissioner Jack Shea who asked what the odds were of getting the money.  Woodard responded that he thought the odds were "slim", due to the fact that he had talked with Representative Walter Jones only a couple of weeks ago and Jones said there was no "pot of money" available for such a purpose in Washington. Yet, Woodard said he was not opposed to Judge's idea.

Shea then said he thought the chances were slim, followed by commissioner Margarette Umphlett who said she wanted the people to know the board was doing all it can do to help them.

Commissioner Wally Overman then asked Judge who he thought they should contact in Washington and Judge responded by saying Jones, and Senators Burr and Tillis. Overman was also in favor of the idea, but suggested the board make a call to see if there was a "reasonable feeling there were funds available" before making the trip.

Woodard then told his board he would make the calls prior to the next meeting, and if necessary schedule another meeting in order to do what was necessary.  He also expressed concerns about meeting the funding deadline set by the Local Government Commission.

Woodard fulfilled his promise and in no way deserved the criticism from Dillon. Perhaps, Dillon should have asked commissioner Judge why he didn't make the trip to Washington, DC and take her and Commissioner Allen Burrus along with him.  Burrus, by the way, was absent from the April13th meeting.

In defense of Woodard's comments in Buxton this week, where he said he understood the frustration, he was 100% correct in his assertion that no county board has worked harder for the people of Dare County during the past 18 months than the one holding office. Woodard especially, has worked as hard as any commissioner in recent years to bring unity and positive results to a board that might best be described as "one-legged".  Democratic commissioners Burrus and Judge have consistently refused to work with the new leadership, as Republican members did during the years the board was under Democratic control. And Burrus has gotten to the point where he misses as many meetings as he attends. Fortunately, both Burrus and Judge will be leaving the board at the end of the year. Meanwhile, commissioners Shea and Umphlett, for personal reasons, also have not been able to devote their full attention to all board matters before the board in recent months.

If grades were given for service, EyeonDare would have to award commissioners Woodard, Overman and Boswell "A's" for the time they have been in office. Shea and Umphlett have earned a "C", with failing grades going to Burrus and Judge.

Everything considered, the current board of commissioners has done an outstanding job for the people of Dare County during the past 18 months.  And, much of the thanks should go to commissioner Bob Woodard. His leadership has been exemplary.

2015 County Wages Vary

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Dare County's emergency medical services department (EMS) captured 20 of the top 50 spots for the highest gross salaries/compensation earned in 2015 among the county's 700+ member workforce.

Gross compensation paid to the top 50 individual employees ranged from $69,188 for the register of deeds to $150,389 for the county finance director.  However, the top salary/compensation, in a class by itself, was claimed by the county's manager/attorney with total earnings of $242,192. 

Exclusive of the county manager/attorney's salary (above), the average salary/compensation for the top 50 earners came to $87,050 for the year. (note: emergency medical service employees frequently earn overtime pay which can bring their annual earnings to as much as twice their base pay).

Click here for a recap of the top 50 earners, based upon data supplied by the County Public Information and Human Resources Office for the calendar year 2015.

Click here for a complete listing of all salaries/compensation paid by the county for the calendar year 2015. (departments)

Click here for a complete listing of all salaries/compensation paid by the county for the calendar year 2013.

Salary ranges & number of employees 2015
County Manager/Attorney  $242,192
$100,000 and over - 11 employees
$90,000 to $99,999 - 6 employees
$80,000 to $89,999 - 8 employees
$70,000 to $79,999- 21 employees
$60,000 to $69,999- 45 employees
$50,000 to $59,999- 100 employees
$40,000 to $49,999- 174 employees
$30,000 to $39,000- 223 employees
$20,000 to $29,999- 107 employees
$15,000 to $15,999- 32 employees

During the calendar year 2015, the county commissioners awarded a $1,000 salary advancement to all employees and has budgeted an extra $750,000 for salaries and fringes for the 2016-17 year pending the outcome and implementation of  a salary study, which is being conducted by an independent contractor. The study is expected to be completed by September of this year. In addition, they budgeted $25,000 for an employee bonus pay program for the fiscal year 2017.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

34 Stoplights

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A county employee stands at the podium
at the Buxton Fessenden Center and tells
the commissioners no one came to speak
to them
Dear county commissioners.  It's only 34 stoplights from your house to mine, and if we meet in the middle the tourist will run all over us.  Just thinking, just thinking.
Tomorrow, May 16th, the Dare commissioners will hold their second monthly meeting at the Fessenden Center in Buxton, they say, in order to provide fairness to those living on Hatteras Island who have to drive all the way to Manteo for a meeting. The drive, if one happens to live down by the ferry dock can last as long as 1.5 hours, intertwined with driving 35-55-60 mph  and slowdown tourist traffic.

Two weeks ago, the commissioners also threw a party at the Fessenden Center and spent $5,900 setting up closed circuit TV so the island's residents could make public comments live, to the commissioners' meeting in Manteo.  Problem was, no one came. Will they partake at future meetings?

Perhaps, the county commissioners need to realize there are 34 stoplights from Duck to Manteo that operate year round. Duck residents and others in Southern Shores and Kitty Hawk cannot make a trip to Manteo for a meeting during spring/summer/fall in 1.5 hours either, without running a few stoplights and driving 25 mph, or less, behind thousands of tourists. But, who's complaining. Well, maybe its the folks down in Hatteras.  After all they pay taxes too, unless of course, it comes to beach nourishment.  And, that will be the big topic at Monday's meeting in Buxton. It will be interesting to see if there is a full house.  Wonder what's on the breakfast menu for the commissioners?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dare County Budget Update

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TO:  Dare County Employees
TO:  Dare County Citizens

After a week of jockeying back and forth between the county commissioners, the county manager's office and finance office, EyeonDare has finally been able to get them to put the proposed budget online in a form that everyone can read without have to tilt their head sideways or make software changes to the presentation.  Excuses, excuses was all EOD could get, but we finally got there.
Frankly, it seems like no one really wanted the county employees to be able to see their departmental budgets or the county citizens to see the entire budget very easily.  Shame on Dare County administration. Shame ! 
http://www.darenc.com/finance/docs/bdg1617.pdf


County Finance Office Being Stubborn

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County finance officer
David Clawson
Dare County finance officer David Clawson marches up to the county commissioners podium every year where he is awarded an annual CAFR award for excellence in financial reporting, yet he can't (or won't) put the county's proposed budget online in such a way the average person can easily read it.

This year, as in the past (actually it varies) he has chosen to present all the county's departmental budgets online where one either has to be computer savvy enough and have the appropriate software to rotate the data/page in order to read it.  This year, it seems that Clawson or county manager Bobby Outten (or both) want to be stubborn about getting the problem corrected.  Earlier this week county chairman Bob Woodard told them to get it corrected.  As of today, nothing has been done and Outten says he's not sure they can do it, despite it having been presented correctly in prior years (again, it varies from year to year).  It all sounds like pure stubbornness to EyeonDare.

Clawson does not take phone calls directly from the public. So, don't bother to call him.

Meanwhile, interested citizens have until the first meeting in June to review the budget and make any comments they wish.  As it now stands, good luck with that.  Here's where to find the budget, but don't scroll down to the departmental budgets unless you want to tilt your head or computer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Remembering Our Ancestors

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Here on the Outer Banks we think nothing of spending millions of dollars trying to protect our beaches, protect private cottages, or anything else that will put a dollar in someone's pocket. We spend thousands of dollars in public funds each year promoting marathons, local restaurant cuisine, local seafood, our maritime history, fishing heritage and our national monuments.  We go so far as to embrace our ancestral families and heroes in press, in order to give well deserved credence that our area is indeed, blessed by God.

As with small communities all over America, the Outer Banks is dotted with small cemeteries, dating back hundreds of years that serve as reminders of "the way we were".  And, the way they were, is something no one living here today should ever forget. Unfortunately the Salvo Campground Cemetery, a.k.a  Midgett Cemetery (one of many Midgett cemeteries) seems to have been forgotten by many, perhaps out of frustration, perhaps due to governmental controls, or just perhaps because many Outer Bankers know it can be a hopeless effort trying to fight Mother Nature.

So, we ask, should the monuments and graves of our deceased be left to the whims of the countless storms through the years, or should we do everything possible to preserve them as long as we can. In the case of this beautiful cemetery, wedged between sound waters and national park service property, time is running out. For years, erosion has been eating away the shoreline, breaking headstones, exposing caskets and leaving them laying on the sand.

Thanks to a group of people in the Rodanthe-Waves- Salvo community, efforts are underway to save and restore that historic site as quickly as possible.

A story on their efforts can be read on the Hatteras Island Free Press.  If you feel inclined, there is also a spot in the news story where one can go to make a donation towards an estimated $120,000 that will be needed to protect something that is very sacred to everyone who loves the Outer Banks.

Beach nourishment, marathons, parks, pathways, food festivals, First Flight, Birthplace of America,
lighthouses.  Not one of them is as sacred as the memory and honor of our ancestors, one and all.

Island Free Press story.
Make a contribution.
Face Book page

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Stinky Restrooms Not Acceptable

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Dare County's Kitty Hawk Park restroom


County chairman Bob Woodard has made it very clear to the county manager and the director of the county's parks and recreation department that he will no longer tolerate dirty public bathrooms in county facilities. Responding to the second request by EyeonDare in recent months, Woodard made an early morning inspection of the grounds of the million dollar+ Kitty Hawk Park which was built and maintained by the county.  The park contains a skateboard ramp, kids play area, picnic area, garden plots, dog park and public restrooms.

In an email to EyeonDare this morning, Woodard wrote:

"After touring the park this am I spoke with Bobby(Outten) about this as well. Bobby has made it clear this morning to Tim White (Parks & Rec Director) that ALL of our public restrooms in our parks need to be cleaned regularly, year round to the standards of his restroom at home. EVERYTHING disinfected, floors mopped, corners cleaned, cob webs (if any)
removed, sinks and toilets sparkling, etc. Also if staff needs training, then touch base with Human Resources for one of our custodians to show them what is expected. A written schedule is  expected to be written and followed for cleaning dates. Whoever cleans needs to initial the schedule and
verify the time and date that they performed the cleaning. Supervisors are expected to verify the cleaning has been done and done properly. It is to start TODAY. At KH Park the washouts and covering the sprinkler heads and PVC pipe need a plan of action asap. Tim is to let us know the plan of action on this item and when we can expect it to be completed.

Bob (Woodard)

Kudos to Chairman Woodard.

Do Garbage Tax Rates Stink

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It's funny how good ideas will sometimes blossom on the horizon and then fade away as fast as they appeared.  An excellent example was the recent coalition of town mayors, etc. that was brought together by county chairman Bob Woodard for the purpose of seeing if everyone could save money by combining some of the essential services that everyone pays in order to live and thrive in Dare County. There's an old saying, "He started, farted, fumbled and fell". And, that's exactly what happened to this group.

Last week's announcement by the Town of Southern Shores that it could no longer afford to pay the county for its garbage pickup speaks volumes. It's going to the private sector for help.  Likewise, the Town of Nags Head just announced it's beginning mandatory recycling for all its residents. The town also has its own garbage pickup department, as does the Town of Kill Devil Hills and the Town of Manteo. Duck contracts out to a private company. Meanwhile property owners in all unincorporated areas of the county are stuck with paying an extra 10.3 cents per hundred dollars of their property values, on top of the countywide 43 cents, in order to get sanitation services.

Let's compare the above figure with what the Town of Southern Shores is saying it can no longer afford to pay. Its residents, in addition to paying a countywide assessment of 43 cents, have a town tax rate of 22 cents, but only a small portion of that assessment is needed for sanitation services/garbage pickup.  Actually, Southern Shores' total sanitation budget amounts to only 11% of its total annual budget, or 23% of its ad valorem tax collections.  Applying this 23% figure to its town tax rate of 22 cents, one finds that its citizens are paying about 5 cents in extra property taxes for garbage pickup, compared with the county's unincorporated rate of an extra 10.3 cents. 

So, how does all this shake out with the towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, etc.  One thing is sure, there's plenty of meat on the bone.  Our county's elected leaders just don't have the initiative or know how to deal with it. And, considering the high salaries that governmental administrators earn in Dare County, they also deserve a big "Boo !"