Martin County - What is the Future
It appears that the Martin County Commission has gotten off to an ambitious start. In their first meetings the commissioners outlined their vision of the county and what challenges they expect to tackle.
Capital Improvement projects such as the Indian River Drive “Septic to Sewer” program, the “Mooring Fields” in Jensen Beach and Pt. Salerno, the “Bridge Road Project”, the “Mapp Road Project”, “Fire/Rescue Training Facility”, “Veterans Bus Program”, ‘Municipal Golf Course Project”, “Data Center Project” and the “Customs Facility Project” are all on the radar.
These projects have all been discussed in the past and for a variety of reasons had been voted down or delayed.
The Indian River Drive Septic to Sewer program has been engineered and the project will seek funds from outside the county in the form of grants, loans, etc. Time will tell, how much, and if any of these resources will be available to supplement the county’s resources. This is an important step environmentally for our community.
Mooring Fields in Jensen Beach and Port Salerno would provide fixed mooring facilities in both geographical areas. According to the county, these mooring fields would provide specific geographical areas for boats to be legally moored. The county plans on applying to Florida Inland Navigation District for funds to partially or entirely pay for these facilities.
The Bridge Road Project is located in Hobe Sound primarily along Bridge Road. The project includes locating power lines underground, providing on-street parking, and specific drainage improvements. This will be funded with CRA funds that have been or will be collected from TIF monies.
The Mapp Road Project has also been engineered. It includes certain road improvements, drainage improvements, sidewalks, and extensions of water and sewer lines. This project seeks to improve Mapp Road from Martin Downs Blvd. to SR #714. Funds again will be generated through the CRA’s TIF funds as well as potential grant funds.
The Fire/Rescue training facility was planned originally in 2011 and has been resurrected by the commission for reconsideration. Funding would need to be identified for this project. Additionally, the county should include the Stuart Fire and Police departments as well as Martin County Sheriff’s department in their discussions for this facility.
Veterans Bus Program is in need of an additional bus and the program is attempting to raise funds for replacement of some of the vehicles. This funding is being handled through the Veterans Council.
The Martin County Golf Course management was taken over by the county and the county has made improvements in the courses and continues to study the overall development as well as replacing some of the amenities. Additional metrics will be considered to assist with the ongoing maintenance and operation. The golf course facility is currently operating at a loss.
The Data Center was once planned for construction off the airport property. It has been re-prioritized and the commission is considering locating the facility on the airport grounds.
The Customs Facility at Witham Field was previously approved with numerous caveats and eventually failed to pass at the commission level. The previous caveats required that the facility would be constructed by grant funds and that the day to day operations would not be a burden to the county. It appears that the commission is resurrecting this project along with a review of the methods of funding the facility.
MCTA is not debating the quality of these projects, however, these projects all have costs associated with them. It has been stated that our capital improvements projects are currently in arrears approximately $250 million. The MCTA believes that the projects that have been suggested should be prioritized and that funding should be identified. Using reserves does not seem to be a prudent method of funding these projects. Additionally, the 2017 budget has been approved and millages have been put in place to accommodate the current approved budget. In other words, if there is a requirement for additional funds for 2017 it would be prudent to reduce costs internally. Reducing outside legal fees for example could be a cost saving consideration as well as settling lawsuits that are not beneficial for the county. Also, the county could incentivize staff to minimize internal and external bureaucracy.