CEPD approves budget; discusses offshore drilling
While beach patrons basked on Captiva’s shorelines Saturday, the Captiva Erosion Prevention District board, staff and members of the public convened for the organization’s final budget hearing at Tween Waters’ Wakefield Room. This meeting, which was preceded by a tentative budget hearing last Monday, hinged on the passing of two critical resolutions that will prepare the CEPD for upcoming financial challenges facing the protection of the area’s treasured coastlines.
Resolution 2009-03 to adopt the final millage rate of 0.2322 mills passed unanimously. Despite reduced operating expenditures and increased parking revenues, this rate increase (nearly 26% over the rolled back rate of 0.1846 mills) was cited by board Chairman Michael Mullins as necessary to inject funds into the CEPD reserve fund. Said reserves were overtly depleted by nearly $1 million in reduced assessments in 2007 to recognize the Captiva hardships incurred after Hurricane Charley and to establish a “pay as you go” philosophy.
An additional reserve reduction of $1.1 to $1.3 million to cover Captiva’s cost share for the Blind Pass project reinforced the district’s decision to bolster reserves, somewhat in anticipation of the necessary preparations for the next beach renourishment project.
The board also unanimously passed Resolution 2009-04 adopting the final general fund budget. This resolution, in conjunction with a raise in the millage rate, should increase FY 2009-2010 reserves by approximately $103,290.
Although the public remained silent during the budget discussion and resolution adoption, Chairman Mullins, after thanking Tween Waters for the generous use of their facility, once again invited public comments before adjourning. The board was presented with a provocative and timely question: howcould potential legislation on oil and gas exploration off the Florida coast affect future renourishment projects?
Vice Chairman Holzheimer recently attended a Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Association conference with Commissioner Mullins and senior administrator Kathleen Rooker, as such she was well-informed and prepared to discuss the recent developments surrounding this issue.
A special Florida legislative session will be held as early as October. Pending legislation (possibly in the form of an attachment to the gaming bill) would potentially allow for oil and gas drilling in Florida waters between three and ten miles from the coast.
The presence of oil and gas facilities off the coastline can have dire effects on area beaches, property values and tourism in general. Not only do such facilities pose an environmental risk and visual nuisance, they could also effect the ability of CEPD to carry out its mission.
“We have great reason to be concerned about this both directly on the impact of our beaches, but indirectly in terms of securing borrow areas,” explained Vice Chairman Holzheimer. Borrow areas are Gulf reserves of sand used during critical dredging projects.
Commissioner Holzheimer conveyed a sense of urgency, iterating that “Both of those [effects on beach renourishment] are things we should be concerned about and probably act on before October.”
Chairman Mullins suggested the board would need to assemble on an emergency basis prior to next month’s meeting to tackle this issue of off-shore drilling that threatens Floridians’ environment, economy, and way of life. Without swift action, coastal oil and gas drilling efforts could be literally looming on the horizon.
If you have questions, visit www.MYCEPD.com or call 472-2472.