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WHQR is your source for the 2015 Municipal Elections in the Cape Fear Region. We are bringing you the CoastLine Candidate Forums live from the MC Erny Gallery each Wednesday at noon from September 16th to October 28th as well as candidate profiles and general election coverage.Here's how you can participate:1. Be part of the live studio audience. Arrive at WHQR's MC Erny Gallery between 11:30 AM and 11:55 AM on the Wednesday of your municipality's race so you can settle before our hard start time of noon.As part of the audience, you'll have the opportunity to ask a question of the candidates.2. Send your question at any time to coastline@whqr.org. Just make sure it fits these basic guidelines: It's applicable to all the candidates in that race.It's in the form of a question.It fits within a 30-second time frame.We reserve the right to edit questions for broadcast standards and brevity.3. Tweet us during the live broadcast (12-1PM on Wednesdays) at coastlinehqr or email us during the broadcast at coastline@whqr.org.4. Stream the live radio signal from your computer. Just click the "Listen Live" button in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. It’s your town. Make your voice heard. THE 2015 COASTLINE CANDIDATE FORUM SCHEDULE:September 16, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Kure Beach Mayor & Town CouncilSeptember 23, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Oak Island MayorSeptember 30, 12:00pm-2:00pm — Oak Island Town CouncilOctober 7, 12:00pm-2:00pm — Wilmington City CouncilOctober 14, 12:00pm-2:00pm — Carolina Beach Town CouncilOctober 21, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Carolina Beach MayorOctober 28, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Leland Mayor & Town CouncilVoter Information:For more information about the 2015 election, voter registration, and polling places in your area visit the Board of Elections website for New Hanover County & Brunswick County.

Room Occupancy Tax Collection isn't Consistent or Reliable, say Kure Beach Town Officials

kure_beach_wiki.jpg
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
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At the time this photograph was taken the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was dredging and replenishing the sand on the beach.

New Hanover County collected more than ten million dollars in room occupancy tax during the last fiscal year.  But officials in Kure Beach aren’t convinced that all property owners who rent on a short-term basis are sending their share to the County. 

At a recent CoastLine Candidate Forum for Kure Beach, held September 16th in WHQR's MC Erny Gallery, everyone agreed the status quo isn’t working.    

New Hanover County ranked 8th last year for tourism out of all 100 counties in North Carolina.   

But Commissioner Emilie Swearingen, who hopes to be the next mayor of Kure Beach, says there’s no way to determine whether all that traffic is producing the right amount of tax revenue – which would help fund beach renourishment. 

"We can’t call the county and say, ‘Does this house pay room occupancy tax?’ because the county has no way to track it – no matter what the Board of Realtors or the management companies send to them."

The county should establish a distinct account for each property, says town council candidate Joseph Whitley.  The current method means real estate companies bundle tax payments from multiple properties together.  

"Because if they have ten properties and they turn in tax receipts for five, how do we know that all of them – but, of course, we have to make sure that they’re rented. So, there’s a lot of legwork with this.  This is a very touchy subject."

Earlier this year Airbnb, an online rental platform that connects owners with renters, agreed to collect the tax statewide. 

But, says Mayor Dean Lambeth, that doesn’t eliminate the problem.    

"We continually ask the county when they’re going to get another representative to check on just this one issue – because we are losing money on it.  But we need somebody to step up to the plate whose job it is just to check on all these rental places."

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To hear the Candidate Forum in its entirety, follow this link:

http://whqr.org/post/coastline-candidate-forums-2015-kure-beach-mayor-and-town-council

To see the full schedule of CoastLine Candidate Forums, follow this link:

http://whqr.org/topic/2015-election-coverage