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Longboat Key Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 4 months ago

Longboat Key due to save $3.7 million in undergrounding project

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Phase four of the project is projected to have the most of the savings at about $1.83 million.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key’s undergrounding utilities project is set to cost less than what the town had originally budgeted.

Projections provided by the Public Works Department show the town is due to save about $3.7 million in the four-phase project.

“Any unspent bond proceeds will be used to redeem bonds, which will reduce the overall debt burden,” Town Manager Tom Harmer wrote in an email. “This is required based on mandatory bond redemption features in the bond documents.”

Harmer said the town is planning to hire a consultant to recalculate the assessments based on the new debt payment schedule and actual costs. 

The recalculation can be done in one of two ways, according to Harmer. It could reduce the annual payments or keep the payments relatively the same but be paid over a shorter period of time.

“The first option is probably the most preferred,” Harmer wrote. “We would review the project closeout and any actions to redeem bonds with the Town Commission once the town’s undergrounding work is complete.”

Harmer said anyone who prepaid their assessment will be excluded from the calculation since they are not subject to the bonded indebtedness.
 
Also, if there are any refinance opportunities in the future, another recalculation would take place.

Town staff has reached out to bond counsel for further guidance.

Harmer credited the savings to efficient project management, credits from the power company increasing in the last few years and cost savings to the utility company for facilities being underground versus aerial.

Harmer explained the reasoning why phase four of the project — which goes from Dream Island Road south to the county line — had the most savings of any of the other three phases at about $1.83 million.

“This is the last phase and had the most benefit related to the credit from the utility, as well as, efficiencies associated with the elimination of one of the phases which was combined into phase four,” Harmer wrote.

On Monday, the Town Commission approved easements for Florida Power & Light equipment on town property:

  • 4250 Gulf of Mexico Drive: Mid-Key Water Plant (25 feet by 25 feet)
  • 5550 Gulf of Mexico Drive: Durante Park (25 feet by 25 feet)
  • 5810 Gulf of Mexico Drive: Binnacle Point Open Space property (75 feet by 25 feet for three Vista Switches)

Phase three of the project goes from Country Club Shores to the county line.

Phase two continues from the northern tip of the island to Dream Island Road.

Phase one is the southernmost portion of the project.

The undergrounding project is scheduled to finish by the end of 2022.

Annual citizen survey gets underway

On Monday, the town of Longboat Key began sending letters to residents with a unique code and link that allows them to take the third annual citizen satisfaction survey.

The deadline to fill out the online survey is Feb. 12.

The survey allows residents to provide the town feedback on specific quality-of-life issues. It also gives residents a chance to share their options on services and priorities.

“I’m really trying to increase the number of survey responses,” Longboat Key Support Services Director Carolyn Brown said.

The town had 1,524 households respond to last year’s survey after mailing out 8,320 invitations. In 2020, the town had 597 surveys completed after sending out 8,741 invitations. 

Longboat Key has again hired the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government at the University of South Florida to conduct the survey.

The Town Commission is expected to hear a final report about the 2022 survey in April.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

See All Articles by Mark

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