Daily News Staff Writer
Every year the town asks the state for thousands, sometimes millions, to help pay for completed and scheduled coastal protection work.
Most of the time the town receives only a fraction. Town officials expect this year to be no different.
The Town Council authorized staff Tuesday to apply to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection seeking a $7.8 million reimbursement for the recently completed Midtown nourishment project and $6.7 million for the planned Phipps Ocean Park beach project. The $17 million Midtown beach fill is eligible for up to 46 percent state cost sharing and the $17.2 million Phipps fill is eligible for 39 percent.
Staff also will request reimbursement of about $700,000 for the interim Phipps/Reach 7 nourishment project and $253,100 for monitoring sea-turtle nests, biological and physical surveys and tilling services.
But Public Works Director Paul Brazil said he doubts the town will receive much money this year, especially for the recently completed nourishment projects.
“Until the state starts putting more money into the fund, Midtown and Reach 7 are going to have a hard time getting reimbursement,” Brazil said. “Unfortunately, on those two ... we’re so far from the inlet and there’s so few dollars to spread out, that we’re not sure that we’ll get any reimbursement this round, but we’re trying to improve our ranking numbers.”
State officials rank and prioritize the amount of money they give to eligible beach projects throughout the state based on a number of factors but mainly public accessibility. The Department of Environmental Protection won’t know how many projects, if any, can be cost-shared until the Florida Legislature decides how much money to appropriate to its Beach Management Funding Assistance Program. The state’s budget year planning began on July 1.
“Every year we apply for as much as we can get,” Coastal Coordinator Rob Weber said. “We don’t always get what we ask for. State appropriations are limited, and the state does not fund all eligible projects requested by local sponsors.”
Weber said the town received about a half-million dollars last year from the state, mainly for monitoring services, not beach projects.
This year, Brazil said he expects the town will receive the full 75 percent cost share, or $189,000, for work near the Lake Worth Inlet. Those projects rank high because the government created the inlet, which over time has contributed to coastal erosion.
If the town does receive reimbursement, the money is used to replenish the town’s Coastal Capital Fund balance and reduce the amount transferred from the general fund.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council approved three resolutions totaling $548,000 for annual physical surveys, biological monitoring and coral nursery mitigation along the island’s coastline.
TrapBag Erosion Barriers have been instaled on the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach Counnty.
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