The current funding formula for a neighborhood undergrounding project stays intact as the town manager investigates an opt-out program for neighborhoods.
A proposed neighborhood project to bury power lines islandwide is surging forward with a funding split in which property owners with existing underground utilities will pay 18.5% of the project’s cost and owners with above-ground utilities will pay for 81.5% of the project through their tax bills, if approved.
Meanwhile, Town Manager Dave Bullock will investigate an opt-out option for neighborhoods that want to bury their power lines separately.
At a special meeting Tuesday, the Longboat Key Town Commission voted 6-1 to direct Bullock to proceed with the project that’s drawn ire from north-end residents who would pay the majority of costs.
On March 15, voters will decide if the town can issue bonds for the project that can’t exceed $23.85 million.
Some properties, including Spanish Main Yacht Club and Club Longboat, are disputing the higher project costs they face despite having a majority of their utilities underground because of their properties’ proximity to above-ground power lines.
By burying remaining utilities independently, these properties could save on costs.
Spanish Main Yacht Club is considering burying a nearby power line to reduce the annual cost over 30 years for its residents.
If the referendum passes, all properties would eventually have underground utilities, either as part of the town project or, if the commission allows communities to opt out, through an independent project. If it fails, neighborhoods can still work to bury their own power lines.
Some commissioners are concerned that if neighborhoods opt out of the project, costs for other property owners will increase, forcing the town to revise assessments.
The decision also allows Bullock to start educational forums throughout the Key about the referendum.