Southeast
TC Palm

St. Lucie County would tax beach property owners for sand renourishment projects

The beach tax would last at least 50 years, the length of the Army Corps project.

ST. LUCIE COUNTY— Property owners between Normandy Beach and the Martin County line could be paying a new tax to pay for replenishing sand on the beach.

The money would help pay $14.8 million, the county’s share of a $22 million project proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It would add sand to eroded beaches on South Hutchinson Island,  Deputy County Administrator Jeff Bremer said.

The county needs options to pay for adding sand to area beaches after the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this year withdrew a $9.5 million beach-repair grant after learning the Army Corps already had funded the project.

The County Commission during budget hearings earlier this month took the first step toward creating the special tax but did not set a tax rate.

Staff has until Aug. 24 to send the paperwork about the tax rate to the Property Appraiser’s Office to be included in truth in millage notices sent to all property owners.

More: St. Lucie County wants $500K a year from Fort Pierce to prevent erosion at Fort Pierce Beach


More: FEMA denies St. Lucie County's $9.5 million claim for beach repairs after Hurricane Irma

The beach tax would last at least 50 years, the length of the Army Corps project, Bremer said.

Using county reserves isn't an option, Bremer said, because it is pledged for other projects.

“Existing and future Erosion District funds are required to address the Fort Pierce Shore Protection project and the Fort Pierce Inlet Sand Trap project," Bremer said, "because they " (project). These projects are critical to maintaining healthy beaches along a majority of St. Lucie County.”

The county in May asked Fort Pierce to contribute $500,000 a year from its community redevelopment agency to help pay for sand starved beaches south of the Fort Pierce Inlet in the city limits.

The contribution would continue until the county builds T-groins, hard structures installed perpendicular to the shoreline to collect and keep sand in certain locations.

The city has yet to decide how much money it would contribute, City Manager Nick Mimms said.

“The amount of funding to be contributed by the City of Fort Pierce toward beach renourishment has not yet been determined,” Mimms said. “The city of Fort Pierce is currently evaluating alternatives for beach sand replacement along our beautiful waterfront. A partnership with St. Lucie County is the desired methodology to accomplish this task.”

More: St. Lucie County may need $17 million for beach fix — but there's a way to cut costs | Gil Smart

See TC Palm article . . .