Beach, Bayfront Park, Tennis Center budgets up for review on Monday

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Getting the Longboat Key town budget right is integral to Town Manager Dave Bullock’s job.

Every aspect of the community is reflected from the costly nuances involved in maintaining beaches, to the reconditioning of the courts at the Tennis Center, to the replacement of the sewer pipe.

This Monday at 11 a.m.,  Bullock and the Town Commission will discuss and budget for several of the town’s most important funds and projects.

Perhaps no item on the agenda can claim to hold more importance than the 10 miles of Longboat Key beach.

Bullock proposes spending slightly more than $27 million over the next year with more than half of that amount being allocated for the placement of sand along the most highly eroded areas along the central part of Longboat Key.

Bullock said that the town’s engineers in their beach report forecast in the coming year Longboat Key will need about 800,000 cubic yards of sand to repair erosion and maintain the desired profile that allows for 130 feet of beach beyond the mean high water line.

“The appetite for sand will exceed our budget,” said Bullock.

Bullock anticipates the budgeted amount will buy between 600,000 and 700,000 cubic yards of sand, but will not be quite enough to meet the requirements or design standard outlined in Olsen Engineering’s report.

“We will make a big dent and there will be a significant improvement and we will have a significant level of protection in areas that do not have it now. The project will also add a recreational beach to the areas where it has eroded,” said Bullock.

The town has an opening fund balance of about $7.5 million toward the beach and plans to raise $19.5 million additionally primarily through bond proceeds that are paid by taxpayers in the beach district in which they live. In District A, which is comprised of all properties on the Gulf side of Gulf of Mexico Drive, 80 percent of all beach bond monies are paid. The rest of Longboat Key properties, which are located east of Gulf of Mexico Drive, pay the remaining 20 percent of the bonds. Voters approved the ability for the Town to issue more than $12 million in beach bonds, which have yet to be issued.

As far as the timeline for placing sand on the eroded sections of the Key, the plan is that truck hauling sand may begin as early as Nov. 2015 to place sand on the mid-Key hotspots.

Sand will be placed on the south end of the Key in the eroded areas of L’Ambiance and Sanctuary by Jan. 2016, and Longboat Pass on the north end will be dredged and that sand will be placed on the north end of the Key also by Jan. 2016.

The Longboat Pass dredging project will cost the town an anticipated $4.5 million and New Pass dredging will cost about $4.3 million.

When it comes to the impact on Longboat Key property taxes, Bullock recommends the town borrow an estimated $13.325 million in 2016 and that District A be assessed .8335 mils and District B be assessed .2084 mils to cover the debt service.


Courting revenues

The Longboat Key Tennis Center is another special revenue fund that will be discussed at Monday’s workshop.

Bullock projects sales of $571,000 at the Tennis Center and expenses of slightly more than $566,000 for the coming year. Included in the expenses are Capital Improvements encompassing the rebuilding of fences and tennis courts. Bullock said the Tennis Center building will last for several decades before needing replacement.

“So long as we do the maintenance on the Tennis Center building it will have 70 years of life,” said Bullock.

Bullock added there are no plans or organized conversations to add additional courts to the center, but he says that it is an extremely important part of Longboat’s community fabric.


Flushing away dollars

There are very few items in the upcoming budget that rival the anticipated cost to install a new sewer main that will run under water from the Key to mainland Manatee County.

Longboat Key residents will pay for this new line a projected $20.199 million and any money needed will be collected through utility bills. Any and all utility work related to water and sewer functions are captured by the town through adjustments to the rate formula, which all utility users on the Key pay.

Right now, the town has more than $5 million in its Utility Fund, and the remaining money to replace the sewer pipe will be generated through the issuance of bonds.

Bullock said the town has hired engineering contractors to determine precisely if the sewer pipe needs to be replaced and what that cost should be. That work will be completed in the next two months.

Bullock stated that if the existing pipeline does not need replacement, the project can be delayed.

Since there are no other viable options for removing sewage and wastewater from the Key, the cost must be budgeted and monies allocated in case the engineers say the replacement is necessary.


Record permits issued

Bullock declared that the town has issued more building permits in 2014 than any previous year, even more than the boom years. He said in addition to numerous single-family homes, there have been a tremendous number of condominium remodeling permits issued as well as the Aria, Infiniti and the Zota developments.

“It’s a function of an improved economy and a big backlog of retirees who were able to sell in the north their properties that had languished on the market,” said Bullock.

Another factor that adds to the trend is in upscale markets such as Longboat, buyers tend to remodel condominiums and homes when they purchase rather than simply living with what is in place.

Bullock said it does not impact the town’s budget insofar as the Building Department operates as an Enterprise Fund that pays its own way.  He said part of the dilemma though is the building boom is making it difficult for the town to hire inspectors and plans reviewers. Bullock said the building boom is not just on Longboat Key and that if more help cannot be contracted, the town will look to hire a full-time employee.


Play money

Recreation on Longboat Key will get a boost in 2015-16 as the Bayfront Park is expanded and redeveloped.

The town is looking to spend about $1.1 million toward the park development and Sarasota County has committed $2 million toward the project. Bullock has the request for proposal on his desk for review and he said it will go out in the next week or two and contractors will have a month to respond. Once that happens, the proposals will be evaluated by a committee, a selection will be made and if Bullock approves the selection, park construction will commence.

Any resident who wants to weigh in on the above projects or the budget as a whole is invited to attend the meeting at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 29 in Town Hall.

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