Gulf of Mexico

Longboat initially OKs maximum borrow for beach projects, asks Manatee for help

Commissioners agree on ballot language of no more than $34.5 million, though final OK pending in December.

With one more vote from the Town Commission, a ballot measure for the March election will be finalized, seeking a maximum of $34.5 million for the town’s next round of beach renourishment and maintenance.

Commissioners on Monday unanimously signed off on the maximum dollar figure and maximum length of the loan (eight years) with the understanding that the town will likely end up borrowing less. The ballot language will come up again in December for final approval, then it will appear in town elections on March 17.

In three referendums since 1992, the town has sought voter approval to borrow a total of $51 million, but the actual figure borrowed totals $40.3 million. Town voters have never rejected a beach plan referendum.

Sue Smith, the town’s finance director, told commissioners that the overall plan, which includes a range of work beyond sand dredging, is estimated to cost $45 million. Cash on hand from local tax sources along with state and federal reimbursements from beach damage done by storms dating back to 2008 reduces the need to borrow. And the town expects, but can’t count on, reimbursements from competitive state programs at a rate of 26.94% after the work is done.

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