City Commission delays until March 16 consideration of voluntary contribution of extra funding to the project, if needed
With bids having been due at 2 p.m. on Feb. 27, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) spokesman said this week that the federal agency expects to issue a contract award “on or about” March 17 for the Lido Key Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project solicitation.
That was the latest status as of the afternoon of March 2, David Ruderman, a public information officer in the USACE’s Jacksonville District Office, told The Sarasota News Leader. However, he indicated, the timeline could change, based on an array of factors typically associated with reviews of bids.
In the meantime, City of Sarasota staff once again removed from a meeting agenda a proposal for the City Commission to potentially provide more funding to the USACE to make the Lido project viable.
Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch announced during the City Commission’s regular meeting on March 2 that the proposed second amended partnership agreement between the city and the USACE had been removed from Consent Agenda No. 1 that afternoon.
In response to a News Leader question, Jan Thornburg, the city’s senior communications manager, wrote in a March 2 email, “We’re awaiting the project cost from [the USACE], which is still finalizing its bid process. We expect this item to be on the next agenda,” she added of the amended agreement.
The next regular City Commission meeting is scheduled for March 16.
The second amended agreement originally was placed on the City Commission’s Feb. 18 agenda. However, after the USACE delayed the opening of bids from Feb. 13 to Feb. 27, city staff asked that the item go on the March 2 agenda, Jason Bartolone, communications specialist with the city, told the News Leader at that time.
The staff memo explaining that agenda item points out that, on Aug. 20, 2018, the City Commission approved a Project Partnership Agreement with the USACE. That document noted “that the estimated cost of the initial project is $19,577,231 of which the Department of the Army will fund 65%,” with the city responsible for the remaining 35%. (City Engineer Alexandrea DavisShaw has explained to the commissioners that a state grant will cover half the money due from the city.)
The state permit for the Lido initiative, which the USACE and the city received from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in June 2018, is valid for 15 years. USACE staff has estimated that more new sand will have to be placed on the Lido shoreline approximately every five years after the first project has been completed.
The March 2 agenda material added, “The Department of the Army does not have congressional approval to add funding to the project if the total cost in the lowest responsive proposal is above [the $19.6-million figure]. This Second Amendment will allow the City to voluntarily contribute additional funding to the project, if needed …”
A fiscal analyst with Sarasota County’s Office of Financial Management, Doreen Buonpastore, told the county’s Tourist Development Council members on Jan. 16 that the City of Sarasota had $1,329,035 left in its beach maintenance account at the end of the 2019 fiscal year, which was Sept. 30, 2019.
The county’s formula for dividing up the Tourist Development — or “bed tax” — revenue each year allocates a certain percentage to each municipality, except the Town of Longboat Key, for beach renourishment and maintenance efforts.