21 May 2019 / Restore report from Alan Pierce – New info on possible beach nourishment funding
21 May 2019 / Pertinent Sections of Restore Report / Franklin County Commission Meeting
4- RESTORE update. I have been in consultation with Langton Consulting regarding RESTORE projects. I had previously advised Langton that Franklin County had several funding proposals in front of the Legislature and the outcome of those proposals would affect how the county might want to spend RESTORE dollars. Well, the outcome from the legislature was terrible. No funding was provided for dune restoration or for other capital improvement requests the county submitted. At this time I see the county as having two large infrastructure projects that need attention. One, dune restoration.
The beach and dune system is the first line of defense from storms and in many places in the county it needs re-building. In my discussion with Langton, they believe a dune restoration project would be a viable RESTORE project. The county currently has $8.7M of RESTORE funds at Treasury. I had given Langton a rough budget of $4M for a dune restoration project because I wanted to save some money for a second infrastructure project- Alligator Point Road Protection Project which would be building a one mile beach in front of the exposed road. I am expecting that before construction ever started on Alligator Point we would have another allocation of BP funds so the amount of RESTORE funds available for Alligator Point road protection could be as much as $5M in 2020.
At this time Langton recommends we begin the MYIP process for planning grants. One planning grant would be to develop and plan a county wide dune restoration project, because other than saying we have a proposed budget there are no plans for what we would do. At a minimum the plan is to provide sand fencing and dune plants for the beach front areas, a length of around 16 miles, but a planning grant would develop the details of how much fencing, how many plants, and whether other dune enhancement could be done
for the budget. This would include St. George Island residential areas,
the Carrabelle Beach area, Alligator Point, and Bald Point. It can not include Dog Island because Dog Island is a Coastal Barrier Resource Area (CBRA), and RESTORE funds can not be spent on CBRA zones. Langton assures me that we can amend the MYIP for planning grants at any time so we are not locked into a one time submission to Treasury. Obviously, the Board should not submit a planning grant for dune restoration if it does not want to go through with a construction phase, so the Board should have some discussion on this. The Board may also want to add other infrastructure planning grants. Langton has suggested a deadline of June 4 for the Board to make a decision on RESTORE planning grants, and then Langton would begin the process of developing the MYIP. In a draft time table, Langton would present a draft MYIP to the Board on June 18. Once the Board is satisfied with the projects, Langton would begin the required 45 public comment period before being submitted to Treasury. They believe it will take Treasury 6 months to approve an MYIP if the county authorized a list of projects on June 18.
5- Consideration of other funding sources for infrastructure projects.
Through my career with the county, most funds for capital improvement projects came from outside funding sources, being state and federal grants.
Then, when the RESTORE Act was approved, RESTORE was identified as a funding source, but RESTORE is a one time allocation of funds. Admittedly the allocation will ultimately grow to some $21M over 15 years, but once the $21M is spent RESTORE is over. So, I pose to the Board whether it should consider developing other funding sources so the county is not completely reliant on outside funds for things it needs. I am specifically talking about increasing the TDC tax to support infrastructure needs, and my objective is to develop a funding source to help maintain the county’s dune system and for potential beach restoration efforts. I really am concerned with the damage Hurricane Michael did to Franklin County beaches and what that means to the county when a future hurricane hits. I understand the legislation to allow the county commission to vote 1 cent with a super majority vote of the Board. If the Board wanted 2 cents it would have to go to a voter referendum. One cent would generate about $500K in revenue for infrastructure projects. Board discussion