Benefits From Growth
BY DORI C()S(;R()VK(;iH(iAMS
The town of Sunset Bcaeh has
been growing in 1991, annexing nu
merous neighboring areas and plan
ning for more of the same in 1992.
Town Administrator Linda
Flucgcl helped lay out the figures
last week that demonstrated just
how much has been added to Sunset
Bcach in terms of population and
The area around the Food Lion on
N.C. 9()4, a portion of Sea Trail Golf
Links, Kings Trail subdivision, and
Oyster Point I and II have all been
annexed into the town boundaries
this year, adding an extra 1,211.16
acrcs that the town can count on for
property lax revenues in future years
and several hundred new residents
and/or property owners.
Ms. Flucgcl said the town got into
the annexation business not bccausc
of an aggressive growth policy, but
bccausc residents of these areas
camc to the town commissioners
with petitions asking to be annexed.
"It was all voluntary," she said, so
the town took a 'why not?' attitude
"I wouldn't call it aggressive,"
Ms. Flucgcl said. "It's more of a
case that they camc to us and we can
benefit from the tax incomc."
She said more areas arc on the
agenda for annexation in 1992, in
cluding additional sections of Sea
Taxable property in Sunset Bcach
was valued at S162, 133,539 in 1990,
which, when calculatcd by the tax
rate, means that the town took in
S270.763.01 in taxes.
This year, the assessed value of
taxable property is SI 80, 177, 408,
yielding S300.896.27 in revenues for
The town's tax rate of .167 per
Sl(X) valuation has not changed in at
least four years and the town has
one of the highest collection rates in
the county, 97 percent.
The majority of the town is still
zoned as residential. Of the land
area added during the previous year,
only a 8.95-acrc area around Food
Lion is zoned for business.
Ms. Flucgcl used requests for
garbage collection to estimate the
town's permanent population. The
official 1990 U.S. Census figure of
313 for Sunset Bcach was "right
around what we counted," she said.
In December 1990, 139 residents
requested year-round service.
Another 796 were served on a sea
One year later, 199 full-time resi
dents arc being served, and 908 part
time residents requested seasonal
"If you estimate two people per
household (not counting apartments
and condominiums), you've pretty
much got our population," Ms.
Flucgcl said, which puts Sunset
Bcach at around 400 full-time resi
dents this year, as opposed to the
town's count of around 270 last
Of those full-time residents, some
apparently don't want the growth
the town seems headed for.
Clctus Waldmillcr, president of
the Sunset Bcach Taxpayers
Association, said that "most of us on
the island would have preferred no
"I have less and less voting power
living on the island every time the
town annexes a new area on the
"I wouldn't call it aggressive."
? Linda Fluegel
mainland," Waldmillcr continued.
Waldmillcr said he thinks the rea
son behind the abundance of annex
ation in the past year is that town of
ficials want more sup|K)rt for in
stalling a municipal sewer system.
"If the board (the town council
members) can get a larger tax base,
they can have reason enough for a
sewer system, which is what they re
ally want," he said. "But I wish
they'd have proved the need for it
first. Now it looks like they're going
to put one in anyway."
Mayor Mason Barber is not sur
prised to hear that some residents
feel that the town has been growing
too rapidly, but is certain that more
annexation and development will
occur in the future.
"I've heard this sort of tiling be
fore," he said, "but things are indeed
going to change."
Mayor Barber explained thai
town growth is "for the best".
"If it makes sense, if it looks to be
good for the town, then we'll annex
it," he concluded.
But Barber said council members
have acted with deliberation in
choosing which areas to allow into
the town limits. Those areas an
nexed arc ones that can benefit die
town through increased revenues.
"There arc many other areas out
there that qualify (for annexation)
that we haven't looked at, and we
don't intend to," he said.
Calculating whether annexation
of a particular area would be
beneficial to the town is relatively
simple, Ms. Fluegel indicated.
For starters, an area must be 60
percent developed, with water lines
and suitable streets thai are up to
Once the area is annexed, all the
town must provide is police cover
age and garbage collection.
"The revenue outweighs the ex
pense," Ms. Fluegel said.
For example, S47,(KX) in lax in
come was realized from Sugar
Sands and Oyster Bay Colony alone
this past year. The cost of adding a
new police officer to Ihc force with
full benefits package from
December 1991 to July 1992 will
cost the town S2(),(KK).
"When people were moving into
Sea Trails and Sugar Sands, all we
heard was 'I thought we were in the
town limits, why aren't we?'" Ms.
Fluegel said, so the town believed
that the annexation was desired.
"All we got were positive com
ments from citizens about the idea
of being annexed."
Ms. Fluegel said that the square
acreage of Sunset Beach's town
boundaries has "never been known,"
but will be known in the near future.
A surveyor has been commissioned
to determine the actual si/c and
boundaries of the municipality.
A cable broke Saturday evening
on the pontoon bridge that connects
the island to the mainland at Sunset
Beach, according to Town Admin
istrator Linda Fluegel.
She said the bridge was out of
service from 4 p.m. to about 7:30
p.m., causing traffic to back up on
Ms. Fluegel said that Police Chief
Bucll reported no real problems with
traffic on die mainland past the in
tersection at the bridge.
People appeared to be heading to
holiday parties, she added, saying
that Chief Buell noticed people sit
ting in their cars "all dressed up
Until the operators leam to guide
and control the new hydraulic sys
tem recently installed on the bridge,
incidents such as this might occur,
The new system was intended to
decrease the number of cable breaks,
but it's bound to break sometime,
Ms. Fluegel said.
"It's a learning experience for all
of us," she said, "and soon it'll be
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