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Opinion
Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2020 5 months ago

A necessary investment

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Longboaters have accepted that a price of paradise is maintaining the Key’s No. 1 asset: the beach.
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

It’s like the leaky roof on your home. You have to fix it or replace it, no matter the cost.

If you don’t, the problem worsens. The cost rises far beyond what it would have been had you fixed it early on, and the value of your prized asset declines.

That’s the way it is with beach renourishment on Longboat Key.

It’s infrastructure, and Longboaters know it.

They have accepted over the past 30 years that, as expensive as it might be, they need to maintain the beach. If not, this physical spit of sand and the prized properties Longboaters own would be washed away — $6.1 billion in taxable real estate pretty much washed out to sea.

That explains why there is rarely resistance to beach bond referenda like the one on next Tuesday’s Longboat Key ballot. Not only will the Democratic and Republican Party faithful vote in the presidential primary then, but Longboat Key voters also will be deciding whether to authorize the town to issue up to $34.5 million in bonds to finance a series of beach maintenance projects (see box).

If you have lived here for a decade or more, you know these big bond issues roll around every six, seven, eight years — depending on how well Mother Nature behaves in the interim. It’s a lot of money. But if you amortize the amounts over the life of the bonds, the amounts don’t seem so daunting. In this case, the town wants to pay off the bond debt in eight years or fewer — roughly $4.25 million a year, a palatable amount, all things considered.

What’s more, in recent years, the town has improved the way it manages Longboat’s beach erosion. Rather than dumping millions of cubic yards of sand all at once the entire length of the island, as was done in 1993 and 2006 (3.3 million cubic yards and 1.5 million cubic yards, respectively), the town’s beach management plan is more strategic. It targets the hot spots when needed. That’s illustrated in the accompanying box, where it shows different portions of the plan will be carried out over a six-year period.

It’s probably safe to say no one likes to vote a tax increase on himself. In this instance, assuming voters approve the bonds, the new property taxes could fall into a wide range of annual property-tax amounts, depending on how much the town ultimately borrows and in what beach erosion district you reside (see box, Estimated Millage Rates).

But keep your perspective. When you made the choice to buy property here and live part time or year round, you made the choice to accept there is indeed a price to live in paradise.

 

We recommend: Vote yes on the bond issue.

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