Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Madeira Beach faces big bills for stormwater pipe repair

MADEIRA BEACH — Stormwater rates are likely to double here next year as the city struggles to find money to pay for $22 million in stormwater system repairs.

Residents currently pay $5 a month, which totals $10 on bimonthly water bills.

That rate will jump to $10 a month ($20 on bimonthly bills) if the City Commission approves City Manager Shane Crawford's recommended budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

The commission will debate that budget this summer and vote on it and the city's new property tax rate in September. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, the city faces having to borrow $2.5 million to pay for the next scheduled stormwater renovation project near Boca Ciega Drive, one of the most flood-prone areas of the city.

Officials hope that cost will be offset by a $1.3 million matching grant, which has been tentatively approved by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Final approval is expected in September.

A project to repair and replace stormwater pipes and drains along Normandy Road is already under way.

Current stormwater fees cover only the department's operating costs. The fee increase is expected to generate enough money to pay for the debt service on the Boca Ciega Drive project and cover ongoing maintenance and emergency repairs.

Most of the city's stormwater pipes were installed in the 1940s and 1950s and are approaching or are beyond their lifespans.

Increasingly, residents see their streets, yards and sometimes even their homes flood during torrential summer storms, not to mention during hurricane storm surges.

"We have triaged addressing the worst spots where flooding occurs and are phasing in projects as grants become available," Crawford says. "We will always have some flooding, but water getting into homes is not okay."

Crawford said the stormwater system projects under consideration will "absolutely" reduce flooding.

"Our goal is to keep water out of residents' homes and yards," he said.

A recent report compiled by the city's engineering consultant, Al Carrier, of Deuel and Associates, projects the total cost of repairing the city's storm drains and pipes at more than $22 million.

Carrier said stormwater pipes are collapsing or failing at least once a month somewhere.

His report divides the city into eight sections, identifying some in need of "immediate" attention:

• Island Drive, Flamingo Drive, Normandy Road, Crystal Drive, Lillian Drive and Johns Pass Avenue — "fair" condition, with most of stormwater inlets needing repair or replacement. Cost: $4.11 million.

• Boca Ciega Avenue, Boca Ciega Drive, 131st, 132nd, 133rd, 134th and 135th avenues E, and First, Second, Third and Fourth streets E — "fair to poor" condition, with limited or no effective stormwater collection system. Cost: $2.41 million.

• 140th Avenue, Parsley Drive E/W, Lynn Way, A Street, Marguerite Drive, Bayshore Drive S (south of 141st Avenue), Pruitt Drive, Vivian Drive, Miramar Avenue, B Street, Marlyn Way, Virginia Avenue, Island Drive (west), Sunset Cove (Bland Way, Bland Circle), Bay Point Drive, Palm Street (south of 141st Avenue) — "fair" condition, where 30 percent of the area has a reconstructed stormwater system and some areas along 140th Avenue with impassable flooded roads during heavy rain storms. Cost: $5.87 million.

• 141st, 142nd, 143rd, 144th, 145th, 146th, 147th and 148th avenues, Madeira Way E, First Street E, N Bayshore Drive, Palm Street and Bayway Way — "fair to very good" condition, with some broken stormwater inlets, road potholes, and settled or nonexistent curbing. Cost: $3.81 million.

• Village Boulevard, Pelican Lane, 131st Avenue E, Fishermans Alley, East End Lane and 129th Avenue E — "excellent to fair" condition, with some curb settling. Cost: $2.12 million.

• Madeira Way, Municipal Drive, Rex Place, Harbor Drive, 153rd, 154th and 155th avenues, First and Second streets E — "fair" condition, with potholes caused by possibly leaking stormwater culverts. Cost: $2.65 million.

• American Legion Drive —"good to fair" condition, with 30 percent of curbs needing repair and no stormwater collection system. Cost: $332,000.

• 137th Avenue Circle, Salem Street and Plymouth Street — "fair to poor" condition, with stormwater runoff from streets discharging between homes and over seawalls. Cost: $696,000.

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