Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fight over hurricane shelter standards was all for naught

The news late last year stalled a much-needed hurricane shelter for Pasco and Hernando counties: New federal standards could push costs up by $4.2-million.

As a contract to build the shelter in Hudson waited, Pasco County enlisted Florida's emergency management director and won a waiver from the tougher requirements in June.

By then, state lawmakers had added $2-million as a safety net — bristling at rules that were going to drive costs up 50 percent. There were even threats to go to Congress.

But on Monday, the County Commission is expected to end the ordeal this way: Vote to build using the tougher standards.

The shelter's cost turned out to be within the $7.5-million paid with federal and state grants. And building to lower standards would only save $20,000, according to estimates provided by the company hired in June to build and construct the shelter.

In fact, lower standards actually could leave the project costing $200,000 more, if tests are required.

What happened to the increase?

"That's what I'd say was not a reliable figure," assistant county administrator Dan Johnson said Friday.

Johnson said the extra cost was estimated based on conversations with state and federal officials when few buildings had been constructed using the new standards.

The new standards require building to withstand 200 mph winds instead of the original 160 mph, and protect against the most dangerous tornadoes — a rarity in Pasco that county officials said would most drive up the cost.

The waiver exempted Pasco from the tornado standards, and lowered the wind standard to 190 mph. It also allowed Pasco to keep the $2-million federal grant.

The estimated increase also came when Pasco had only a conceptual design of the product.

"I think the major thing we want to make sure is we build it the best building we can," said County Commissioner Jack Mariano, whose district includes the project.

Pasco sought the regional shelter because of a 20,000-bed shortage in shelters.

But the project hasn't seen its first brick since lawmakers led by state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, approved it in 2006. Asked if the county spent valuable months in an unnecessary fight over rules, Johnson said:

"I'll let you draw your own conclusions. But we're just wanting to move forward and get the project built with the lowest cost in the quickest amount."

Fasano, who wants the shelter built quickly to avoid losing money, said he blamed federal officials for changing the standards after money was approved. As for the time spent fighting those standards?

"We can always be Monday morning quarterbacks, but I don't want to go back in time," he said.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

Fight over hurricane shelter standards was all for naught 09/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 8, 2008 11:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gov. Rick Scott could soon be the all-time king of line-item veto

    Blogs

    2016: $256,144,027

    2015: $461,387,164

    2014: $68,850,121

    2013: $367,950,394

    2012: $142,752,177

    2011: $615,347,550

    Only once has Scott used the line-item veto sparingly. That was in 2014, the year he ran for re-election, when he removed a paltry $69 million from the budget.

    Gov. Rick Scott waves a veto pen at The Villages in 2011.
  2. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon

    Blogs

    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

  3. White House communications director Dubke steps down

    National

    WASHINGTON — Mike Dubke, White House communications director, has resigned in what could be the start of a series of changes to President Donald Trump's senior staff.

    President Donald Trump speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 29, 2017, during a Memorial Day ceremony. [Associated Press]
  4. Trump pays somber tribute to fallen troops on Memorial Day

    National

    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed the nation's "boundless" gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice paid by Americans defending the United States, dedicating his first Memorial Day address as commander in chief to a top Cabinet secretary and two other families who lost loved ones.

    Brittany Jacobs, left, watches as her 6-year-old son Christian Jacobs meets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Arlington, Va. Jacobs father, Marine Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, was killed in 2011. [Associated Press]
  5. Florida education news: Budgets, discipline, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    BUDGETING: Florida school district officials keep a close eye on their spending plans as they await word on the Legislature's budget. Gov. Rick Scott