State should pay up to keep dredge project moving forward
Hernando TodayThe issue: So far, it's $4.92 million for nothing.
Published: January 11, 2011
Published: January 11, 2011
Our opinion: If the state won't pony up difference in cost to continue Hernando Beach dredge project, county commissioners should kill it.
So far, the county has spent $4.92 million - $3.1 million from the state - on the Hernando Beach dredge project. All told, 6 percent of the channel has been dredged - which essentially is useless.
Most of the money has been spent on engineering, design, the contractor and a bunch of lawyers.
If the project isn't completed, the county will have to return the $3.1 million it has squandered so far.
Now that the county has rebid the project and only one bidder stepped forward, it looks as though the dredge might be dead. Where would the county come up with millions more to pay off an additional $8.8 million price tag?
County taxpayers certainly don't have extra cash. We can't compromise our road maintenance/building efforts by taking the money out of Transportation Trust Fund.
If the state won't fork over the cash, then commissioners should drop this long-delayed albatross. The Hernando Beach dredge project has been a festering wound on the county's reputation and a rat hole for county tax dollars.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is as much to blame for the delays and extra expense to this much-needed channel dredging. Everything was a go until the state jumped in again and said "oh, you've got to mitigate all that sea grass that will be removed," and "oh, the water has too much silt in it, so you'll have to come up with a far more expensive plan to get rid of the spoil."
The silt will settle and weeds will grow back. The fish will breed and swim elsewhere for awhile. It's a big Gulf.
There is enough blame to go around: The county did a poor job of getting this project off the ground years before County Administrator David Hamilton ever arrived but once it had the go-ahead, it was the state that put on the brakes and erected barriers to keep the project from moving forward.
The county is to blame, the contractor is to blame, the project engineer is to blame and so is the state.
This madness has gone on far too long and cost far too much. It's been a black eye for the county.
Still, the channel needs to be dredged - so dredge the channel. If the state wants to put a bunch of extra roadblocks in the way, let those state bureaucrats pay the difference.
Otherwise, the dredge is dead. Hernando County taxpayers can't afford it or this nonsense any longer. Pay the state back the $3.1 million and cut our losses now. We can look at the project again once the economy turns around and we can afford to do it.