Longboat Key taxpayers approved a $16 million beach project in March 2012, but they have had the luxury of not having to pay for it in their tax bills for the past two years.
At a Longboat Key Town Commission budget workshop Monday at Town Hall, Town Manager Dave Bullock alerted commissioners that he’s ready to collect on the $16 million starting in fiscal year 2015.
Over a period of six years, the town will bill property owners for the approved project, which includes two north end groins and sand placed at various erosion hot spots around the Key.
“It’s not a perfect plan, but we hope it will hit the sweet spot for us and allow us not to put any more sand down for the next five years,” Bullock said.
That plan calls for several projects over the next two fiscal years that will cost taxpayers approximately $23,846,192. That estimate, though, includes paying for beach consulting, beach monitoring costs, beach tilling and studies that will be paid from other sources, such as the town’s beach capital fund. The beach fund currently has $4,699,677.
The remaining total will be billed to property owners.
To reduce that hefty price tag, Bullock and his staff are considering a beach project alternative: moving sand from sand-rich areas of the Key’s coastline to sand-depleted areas.
That option, though, will have to be approved by the state.
Commissioner Phill Younger was pleased to hear staff is working to find ways to reduce the cost.
“It’s encouraging to hear we will consider harvesting sand from one part of the beach to another,” Younger said. “That could bring this number down.”
Bullock said the town is also hopeful it will receive some federal funds to pay for sand losses attributed to Tropical Storm Debby.
The town will also be meeting with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials later this summer to assess the beach, with the possibility of the Corps designating the island’s beach as a federal beach.
“That means the Corps would be responsible for maintaining the beach to its design standard,” Bullock said.
Corps officials will meet with the commission this winter to discuss making the island a federal beach, which could save taxpayers from paying for expensive beach nourishment projects in the future if the island is made available for federal beach funds.
Fiscal year 2015 is a pricey beach year for taxpayers, though. Plans call for building two groins and placing more sand on the north end for $2.5 million, dredging Longboat Pass to get sand through a sharing agreement with Manatee County at a cost of $3.5 million and performing a $1.5 million emergency sand haul project to severely eroded areas of the south end. The town will also pay $1.5 million for a Corps study to prepare the island for the possibility of becoming a federally designated beach.
In fiscal year 2016, the town is prepared to spend $11.5 million to put sand down in eroded areas in various mid- and south Key erosion hot spots and pay $3 million for a New Pass dredging project as part of a sand sharing agreement with the city of Sarasota.
Bullock is hopeful the pass dredgings will provide enough sand and sand could be distributed to other areas of the island to help reduce the $11.5 million sand price tag.
Since October 1992, Key property owners have paid for beach projects using the following model: District A voters foot 80% of a beach project bill and District B voters pay the remaining 20%.
District A includes all residential properties west of Gulf of Mexico Drive (i.e., the Gulf side) and all commercial properties on the island, while District B consists of all other Key properties.
Beach Project Taxpayer Impact
The $16 million beach project taxpayers approved will cost a Gulf-front single-family homeowner with a $1.3 million home an additional $1,103.58 a year for the next six years. For a $470,000 home east of Gulf of Mexico Drive, it will cost an additional $99.75 a year.
The $16 million beach project taxpayers approved will cost a Gulf-front $390,000 condo an additional $331.07 a year for the next six years. For a $225,000 condominium east of Gulf of Mexico Drive, it will cost an additional $47.75 a year.
Click here to view a PDF document listing Beach Project Expenses in Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]