By Cheryl Blackerby
The city of Boca Raton got a big surprise July 28 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — a check for $4 million for reimbursement of the 2010 beach dredging project at the city’s north beach.
“We had been hoping for it. We put in a request for reimbursement,” said Jennifer Bistyga, Boca Raton engineer and coastal program manager.
The money was for the work required for the 2010 beach project, regular beach maintenance done about every 10 years, not storm damage.
“Back in 2010 after the beach project was completed, we submitted our reimbursement request, and an outside auditing firm was hired to go over all of our invoices,” she said.
The reimbursement was actually for work done from 2003 to 2010 — the engineering, design and permitting needed in addition to the dredging. “There were a lot of invoices,” she said. “The agreement for reimbursement was that it would be paid upon completion.”
The money will be passed along to the Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which had agreed to cover the $4 million beach renourishment bill and had already paid $2 million. The district also had approved another $2 million for reimbursement to the city in the 2014-15 budget.
Mike Woika, Boca Raton assistant city manager, told district commissioners about the Army Corps windfall at the district’s Aug. 4 meeting.
Commissioners were relieved to hear that the city doesn’t expect the $2 million reimbursement in the district budget. After the city has reconciled its statements, Woika said, the district will receive about $1.5 million refund from the district’s initial $2 million payment.
Learning that the district wouldn’t have to pay the $2 million in the proposed budget, Commissioner Earl Starkoff suggested a budget revision of an increase in the cash balance brought forward by $2 million to $17,994,200 and an increase in the capital reserves by $2 million to $3,845,000. The revisions would increase the total appropriated expenditure and reserves to $41 million.
“It is probably the most delightful gift that has fallen into our laps in a long time,” said Commissioner Bob Rollins as he thanked Woika for the presentation.
Meanwhile, another beach renourishment project on Boca’s north beach, needed after Hurricane Sandy, will resume in November. The project, paid for by the Army Corps and the city, was delayed and eventually stopped by strong winds and rains in the spring. The work, about 50 percent of the project, is expected to take about six weeks.
That project, too, cost $4 million — the Army Corps paid 58.8 percent and the city 41.2 percent, said Bistyga.
The north beach renourishment project was one of three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach projects after Sandy, which also included Ocean Ridge and Delray Beach. A south Boca Raton beach renourishment project was not an Army Corps project but the city used the same contractor to save money, said Bistyga.
By Cheryl Blackerby