MARCO ISLAND — Hideaway Beach will pay for most of its beach erosion control project, but some portion may be funded using tourist or ad valorem tax dollars.
On Thursday, the Hideaway Beach Special Tax District Board took stock of its financial position, deciding to borrow money if necessary. The Hideaway board also reviewed bids for the project – including sand renourishment and T-groins – from five firms, comparing them to the engineer's estimate of $2.7 million. Four of the five bids came in lower than expected.
The Hideaway board selected a bid of nearly $1.6 million from Marine Contracting Group of Punta Gorda, Fla. The bid will be forwarded to Marco Island's city council for approval. Tim Pinter, city public works director, said council could review and approve it as early as Jan. 22.
Bids ranged from a low of $1.6 million to almost $3 million. The greatest variant was the cost of 25,000 cubic yards of sand to be added to Hideaway's central and north beaches.
Bids did not include shorebird monitoring, testing or inspections that will be paid through the taxing district's Municipal Service Taxing Unit. Hideaway Beach residents pay additional taxes for beach erosion control through an MSTU administered by the City of Marco Island.
"Saying I am pleased with the bids is an understatement," said Eric Brechnitz, chairman of the Hideaway board.
In the lowest bid, the cost of erosion control T-groins remained approximately $925,000, the amount presented to Collier County's Board of County Commissioners for funding. The Hideaway board was seeking financial support for the T-groins from tourist taxes collected by the county through the Tourist Development Council. Members of the Hideaway board believe T-groins may prevent future erosion that could require the county to dredge.
Hideaway's board reported it had on hand a little more than $1 million in special tax revenues with $200,000 to be collected. In a presentation to county commissioners on Tuesday, the Hideaway board agreed to a continuance of reconsideration for TDC money in part because it hoped to have a better chance of receiving funds from the TDC or another source at a later date.
In 2012, county commissioners agreed to fund $925,000 for T-groins and then voted to reconsider it. At Tuesday's commission meeting, the possibility of using ad valorem taxes and the concept of proportionality left open possibilities for funding. Commissioners also wanted to wait until Pamela Bondi, Florida's Attorney General, determined if TDC money could be used for projects within the gated community if the greater good was served.
Bruce Anderson, the Hideaway board's attorney, said he believed the Attorney General would find in favor of Hideaway Beach.
"County staff has opined the TDC money for T-groins is legal," he told the Hideaway board. Board members voted to spend up to $5,000 to present their case to Bondi in Tallahassee.
The Hideaway board also decided to look for short-term funds to finance the project if necessary. Board members authorized Brechnitz to look into a tax exempt revolving loan that could be paid in full in 18 to 24 months. The amount of the loan will be determined after Pinter provides the total cost of the project including construction, design engineering and other services.
Pinter told the board council would be looking for "money in hand" or the mechanism to fund the project when it votes on the contract.
The board scheduled its next meeting for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in the 1st floor conference room in City Hall, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.