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How Does Emerald Isle Compare to Other NC Beach Towns?

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

There are a total of 21 oceanfront municipalities in North Carolina, and this is the peer group that is most relevant when making comparisons of the Town of Emerald Isle to others.



While there are important differences among these communities, they all share common characteristics, including a desirable natural environment, similar demographics, relatively highly valued properties, and similar local government challenges. With this in mind, it is interesting to compare some of the basic indicators among the 21 oceanfront municipalities.

By most measures, Emerald Isle is among the largest of the 21 oceanfront municipalities in North Carolina.


READ FULL ARTICLE WITH DATA COMPARISONS


Permanent Population

According to the 2010 US Census, Emerald Isle has the 4th largest permanent population among the 21 oceanfront municipalities. It is important to note that these are full-time residents only, and each town has many more seasonal residents and visitors.


Total Housing Units

All of the 21 oceanfront municipalities have much larger seasonal populations due to the high number of second homes and vacation rental properties. In Emerald Isle, the peak summertime population can reach approximately 40,000 people - much larger than the official permanent population. Because there is not reliable and consistent data available on the total seasonal population among all of the 21 oceanfront municipalities, the total number of housing units (reported by the US Census) is perhaps the most relevant indicator of the true size of a NC oceanfront community. As noted, Emerald Isle has the 2nd most housing units.


Total Land Area

The majority of the land area in oceanfront municipalities is located on a barrier island, however, some of the towns have expanded onto the mainland over the years. This accounts for the larger land areas indicated for some of the oceanfront municipalities. As noted, Emerald Isle is approximately 5.2 square miles, and ranks 8th in this indicator.


Total Taxable Value - Adjusted for Market Conditions

All of the oceanfront municipalities experienced significant property value increases in the mid-2000s, followed by significant value decreases in the past few years. The impact on all of the communities was similar, and each of the communities conducted a tax revaluation at different times in the 2000s. To account for differences in the revaluation year, the NC Local Government Commission (in the State Treasurer's Office) calculates the adjusted taxable value based on market conditions in that particular county each year. The data below is from FY 2009-2010, the most recent year of data available. As noted, Emerald Isle has the largest adjusted taxable value of all 21 oceanfront municipalities.


General Fund Tax Rate

All of us at the Town of Emerald Isle try our best to provide the highest quality local government services at the lowest possible cost to our taxpayers. The Town has been fortunate to maintain a very low General Fund tax rate over years, and for FY 11-12 (the recently adopted budget), the Town has the 3rd lowest rate of all 21 oceanfront municipalities.


Total General Fund Revenues

Total General Fund revenues can also be an indicator of the size of the municipality, and potentially can be considered when judging the overall value of local government services. As noted below, Emerald Isle collected slightly more than $7.1 million of General Fund revenues (from all sources) in FY 2009-2010.


Total General Fund Revenues Per Housing Unit

In order to get a clearer picture of relative revenues, it may be helpful to compare the total General Fund revenues per housing unit. As noted below, the Town of Emerald Isle received approximately $1,057 per housing unit to fund General Fund expenses during FY 2009-2010. This ranks Emerald Isle among the lowest by this indicator.


Total General Fund Property Tax Revenues

The tables above represent total General Fund revenues from all sources, which includes various State-collected revenues, other fees and charges, and miscellaneous revenue sources. Most taxpayers are most concerned about their property tax bill, and the table below presents the total General Fund property tax revenues collected by the oceanfront municipalities in FY 2009-2010. As noted, Emerald Isle collected slightly more than $3 million of General Fund property tax revenues.


Total General Fund Property Tax Revenues Per Housing Unit

Again, in order to get a clearer picture of relative General Fund property tax revenues, it may be helpful to compare the total General Fund property tax revenues per housing unit. As noted below, the Town of Emerald Isle received approximately $447 of property tax revenue per housing unit to fund General Fund expenses during FY 2009-2010. This equates to a monthly General Fund property tax bill of approximately $37 for the average-value housing unit in Emerald Isle. This ranks Emerald Isle as 2nd lowest by this indicator.


Housing Density Per Acre

Emerald Isle prides itself on its "family beach", "small-town atmosphere", and the preservation of this atmosphere is the Town's highest priority. As noted in the table below, Emerald Isle has developed in a low density manner, with an average of 2 housing units per acre in the Town.


A Final Note About the Data

The data presented above is intended to give the reader a better general sense of how Emerald Isle compares to our most relevant peer group, but it is also important to note that this data does not account for differences in the individual communities' expectations, historical development patterns, historical challenges and opportunities, the range of services provided, nor the quality of services provided.

We hope this information is interesting and helpful to you. All of us at the Town of Emerald Isle try our best to provide the highest quality local government services at the lowest possible cost for our taxpayers. We also continually strive to improve the quality of life for our residents and also continually enhance Emerald Isle's desirability as a tourism destination and vacation home community!

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