Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 31, 2018 8:31 a.m.
On May 30, 2018, Fernandina Beach Mayor John Miller posted this message to city commissioners from City Manager Dale Martin on Facebook:
Based upon discussions with others today, it appears that the USACE Sec 408 review for the proposed repairs of the southern attenuator will be completed and the associated permit issued in sufficient time for the City to continue the originally proposed sequence of repairs: receive bids by Jun 25 and present a recommended award to the City Commission on Jul 17. It appears as if the current Coast Guard review (as part of the final permit to be issued) is not related to the City’s fueling operations but rather, as is the case with the USACE, the proximity to the federal navigational channel.
I have a teleconference scheduled with FEMA officials tomorrow to review the status of the City’s recovery effort and advise those officials of the expected USACE actions.
I will keep you informed of additional developments.
The city recently qualified three firms to bid on the design build project to repair the marina’s south attenuator. Those bids are due back to the city by June 25.
The city also recently issued RFP 18-13, seeking proposals from qualified financial institutions to provide a bank qualified, tax-exempt non-revolving line of credit (the “Loan”, “Line”, or “Note”) in the amount of $6.6M, at the lowest overall borrowing cost, pursuant to certain conditions. Responses are due back to the city by June 20, 2018.
According to the RFP, “Proceeds of the Line, along with other available funds, will be used primarily for the repair and replacement of the City owned Marina damaged as a result of Hurricane Matthew and other improvements to the Marina. The total project cost is estimated to be approximately $8 million. The City currently anticipates that a large portion of the overall project cost will be funded through federal and state sources, and the Loan will provide an interim funding mechanism prior to the reimbursement from these federal and state sources; however, the City cannot provide any assurance as to the amount, if any, or timing of any moneys from federal or state sources. In addition, a portion of the project cost is anticipated to be funded from non-ad valorem revenues of the City.
“The Loan will be payable from reimbursements from Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) Public Assistance Grant Program and the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management for up to 87.5% of the cost of the covered repairs to the marina damage from Hurricane Matthew and well as a covenant to budget and appropriate legally available non-ad valorem revenues in an amount sufficient to pay the principal and interest on the Loan. Such covenant to budget and appropriate pledge shall not prohibit the City from pledging such non-ad valorem revenues, or any portion thereof, to secure other debt issued in the future or from issuing future additional debt payable from a covenant to budget and appropriate pledge from legally available non-ad valorem revenues of the City. The Loan will not be secured by a debt service reserve fund.”
An item that could be covered with such a loan outside the scope of FEMA funding might be additional dredging of the south marina basin.
Another concern to local boaters has been the delay in restoring fueling and pump out services in the marina. These services have not been available since Hurricane Matthew paid the city a visit in October 2016. Item 7.4 on the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) Agenda for the June 5, 2018 Regular Meeting also relates to the city marina. Proposed Resolution 2018-79 would direct the City Manager to proceed immediately with repairs at the City Marina irrespective of related U.S. Army Corps of Engineer permits with respect to repairing the northern attenuator to provide services such as fueling and pump out operations.
While the City has completed minor repairs to the northern attenuator, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) staff contends that a permit should have been sought for those repairs. The City Commission indicated that the City should submit a permit application “after the fact” to satisfy the USACE concerns. Previous FBCC discussion was that said application would be submitted following the anticipated review and approval by the USACE for the southern attenuator permit.
The Fernandina Beach City Commission will meet on June 5, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. in City Hall Commission Chambers at 204 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.