Infrastructure repair and planning along with setting the millage rate for fiscal year 2020 budget have been the recent focus topics of the St. Pete Beach Commission.
On July 9, Public Works Director Mike Clarke reported that during the reconstruction of Pass-a-Grille Way from 1st Avenue to 19th Avenue, the soil beneath the sidewalk adjacent to the seawall was found to be eroding away. A subsequent study revealed a substantial number of voids along the shoreline, which has led to the need for a preliminary engineering design that will develop full construction drawings and specifications for bidding regarding repairs.
Commissioners unanimously approved a design study by Cardno Engineering for a total of $76,653.76. The two fishing piers located at 7th Avenue and 11th Avenue will also be inspected and evaluated.
The Public Works Department also identified a large void at the storm water outfall located at the western end of 76th Avenue that has forced the closure of the city park in the same area.
Commissioners approved a total of $30,175 to repair and restore the area to its prior condition. Rowland, Inc. will do the repair of the 30-inch storm drain.
Sewer Planning Continues
According to city documentation, approval of resolution 2019-04 on June 25 means the city has accepted the planning recommendations made by Kimley-Horn and Associates regarding improvements of sewer capacity for current residents with allowances for future growth.
The current working total estimate for the project is $12 million. Staff is now able to apply for a state revolving fund loan in the amount of $2 million. According to staff, options for financing the remaining amount include a bond issue or bank loan, which will be funded by sanitary sewer rate increases.
“Not only does this project affect the rates we have to charge but we are getting charged huge increases by the City of St. Petersburg for sewage treatment,” said Mayor Al Johnson.
Commissioners will discuss specifics regarding rate increases in the next several months.
In 2016, according to documentation by the planning firm, an evaluation “showed the existing sewer system was operating above capacity in critical locations throughout the city.” The city then approved resolution 2016-15 “to prevent new development or redevelopment that would increase sewer flow until additional capacity is provided to help ensure sanitary sewer overflows do not occur.”
The 2016 action steps were part of a multi-year plan designed by the city to address Consent Order 14-0021 sent to them by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) dated November 21, 2014. In 2013, four unpermitted wastewater discharges from the sanitary sewer collection system in the city were documented by the FDEP.
Budget Hearing Dates Set
At their July 23, commissioners approved the scheduling of two public hearings on September 3 and 17 regarding finalizing the fiscal year 2020 budget and millage rate.
In Resolution 2019-07, a tentative millage rate of 3.15 mills was approved, which is $3.15 per $1,000 of taxable value. It is the same rate the city is currently using. Staff reports this rate will generate $628,145 in new revenue due to a 6.57 percent increase in property values.
The final millage rate adopted by commissioners may be lower but cannot exceed the amount advertised in the Truth in Millage or TRIM notices that are mailed to property owners by the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.
Marine Rescue Boat Approved
An interlocal agreement was approved on July 23 that will result in the purchase of a new rescue boat known as Marine 22. According to city documentation, the St. Pete Beach Fire Department has been working on obtaining a marine rescue boat for several years.
The estimated total cost of the boat will be a maximum of $200,000 and will be paid for by Pinellas County and the county’s Emergency Medical Services Authority.