During the County Commission’s regular meeting on April 3, Matt Osterhoudt, director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, provided an update on the county’s request to the state for extra funding for the South Siesta Key Renourishment Project, which was completed almost exactly a year ago.
The state initially gave the county $2.75 million for that project, he said, which cost about $21.9 million. However — as county Coastal Initiatives Manager Laird Wreford told members of the Tourist Development Council last summer — the county is eligible for more money. To that end, it is on the list to receive $5.9 million out of the beach renourishment funding pool the Legislature will vote on this year, Osterhoudt noted. The total available to communities is $50 million, he added, which is double the amount the state offered last year.
“We’re looking OK at this time,” he continued. The Sarasota County funding request is “about $26 million down on that list.” If the county is successful in winning the money, Osterhoudt added, the state will end up funding about 41% of the project.
Commissioner Nancy Detert — who served terms in both the State House and Senate prior to her election to the commission in 2016 — pointed out in an earlier discussion that the county’s position on that list indicated it should receive the money it is seeking.
The South Siesta Renourishment Project discussion came in the context of concerns about erosion on Manasota Key. When Detert asked Osterhoudt about the stance of South Siesta property owners regarding a Municipal Service Benefit District (MSBU) to help fund the project that also encompassed Turtle Beach, he replied, “There was overwhelming support.”
No survey of those property owners was needed, he added, to make that determination.
In late 2015, a consultant to the county explained to the County Commission how an MSBU is created for such a project. The South Siesta property owners will pay assessments totaling $3,732,000 to repay the loan the county took out to cover 17.02% of the cost of the renourishment initiative.
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