The 7-member Board sets the policy for the county, determining the strategic vision for the county, appoints a county manager, attorney and others to serve the county, adopts ordinances, including zoning, and establishes an annual budget, which includes setting the tax rate and calling bond referendums. Commissioners are elected at large in even-numbered years and serve staggered 4-year terms. Six must reside in a specific district; one is at-large.
I am fiscally conservative. My interest is the economic, educational, health, and social growth for the people of Dare County.
There is never only one most important issue in Dare County. Our unique geography virtually assures that nearly all “major” issues co-exist and are somewhat interdependent upon each other.
These include our overall economy which is primarily based upon traditional tourism as well as the growing eco-tourism industry, beach nourishment, access to beaches and corridors to the ocean, housing, fishing industry issues, boat building, environmental concerns, education, and small business support.
Of course, the county response to Covid-19 requirements may dictate totally different or modified actions on any or all of the issues listed above. That is the wild card in anything we can envision.
We must fully support our $1.2 Billion tourism industry as the economic foundation of the county. This includes continuance of our successful beach nourishment and maintenance programs funded by the occupancy tax.
Essential housing is also a critical component and the current Board of Commissioners has unanimously supported moving forward with one or more projects defined by our collaboration with DFI as part of the UNC School of Government to identify property, select a builder, and assist with the development of the best funding sources for our needs.
The DCBOC has for decades been a strong supporter of Dare County Schools. Historically, the Board has funded the DCS System among the highest per pupil levels in the state. Our 5 on 5 meetings with the school board and school administration ensure that the lines of communication are always open and that the needs of the schools are met while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of the county.
With regard to higher education, the current Board of Commissioners has unanimously supported not only the completely new design and construction of the COA campus in Manteo, it has also funded a Guaranteed Scholarship Program for any Dare County student who wants to attend COA for their initial two years of fully accredited courses thereby saving them thousands of dollars when they transfer to other colleges for a four year degree.
Additionally, we fully support the co-operative association among Dare County Schools, COA, and the Coastal Studies Institute wherever possibilities exist.
The DCBOC is wholly committed to quality healthcare and appropriate social services for Dare County citizens. The requirements for this are constantly changing and evolving to suit the needs of the county’s ever changing demographic and I am supportive of addressing these needs.
Several programs are available now that did not exist even five years ago including the Port Health and clinic in Hatteras, the childrens’ tele-psychiatric program through Surf Pediatrics (for which I am personally responsible and which was fully supported financially by the DCBOC).
The Saving Lives Task Force has addressed opioid and addiction issues head on in Dare County with the participation of concerned citizens, independent healthcare professionals, OBX Hospital, Dare County DHHS, Trillium, Port Health, Clergy, and Dare County Schools all working together.
Dare County partners with Trillium Health Resources for Medicaid eligible services and to support mental health and
intellectual and developmental disabilities needs. We provide approximately $400,000 per year to Port Health to provide mental health services to our residents beyond what is covered by medicare or other insurers.
We are fortunate to have an excellent DHHS with great leadership and dedicated staff which the DCBOC will continue to fully support.
The DCBOC has voted unanimously on multiple occasions and has presented a number of resolutions against offshore drilling and seismic testing. I have fully supported these decisions and will continue to do so.