The Coastal Star

Gulf Stream: Paying for underground powerlines may be a community event

By Steve Plunkett

Coming to your mailbox as soon as this month: a straw ballot asking whether the town should spend $4.6 million to bury electricity, cable TV and phone lines.

Town commissioners unanimously agreed at their September meeting that Town Manager William H. Thrasher should draw up a ballot question much like the straw polls Jupiter Island and Jupiter Inlet Colony used.

Jupiter Inlet Colony households endorsed their project by a 3-1 margin, said Dan Comerford, its vice mayor. The straw ballots went out in August and had to be returned by Sept. 8.

“We’re putting together the work documents right now,’’ Comerford said. His town’s project is set to start the first week of January and be operational in August. Power lines and poles would be removed by the following October.

“The beauty of it is, everything is going to be brand-new, everything is state-of-the-art,’’ Comerford said.

Still being determined in Gulf Stream: each household’s actual cost and whether the town will borrow the money through a bond issue or from some of its wealthier residents.

Mayor William F. Koch Jr. prefers asking residents to help rather than pay bankers’ fees.

“That’ll save us a lot of money and let the people here have first crack,’’ Koch said.

Residents will likely be able to pay the entire cost up front rather than with interest over time, Thrasher said. Already a bank and a resident have contacted him interested in lending the money, which he said will make Koch happy.

“The mayor wants to make this a community event,’’ Thrasher said.

Comerford said he tells Jupiter Inlet Colony residents to determine how long they’ll be living in town and to check with a tax adviser before deciding whether to pay the entire bill at once, especially since interest rates are low.

“Most of the people in town could afford to pay it, but most I suspect will not,’’ he said.

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