By Steve Plunkett
The town may take a loan to shave a year off its ambitious 10-year capital improvement plan for better streets and drainage.
Town commissioners on July 9 discussed borrowing perhaps $2.6 million to speed work in the Core area from three years to two.
“Money’s available — it’s inexpensive,” Commissioner Paul Lyons said.
Gulf Stream has borrowed money only once before: $2.43 million in 2012 to get its undergrounding project started.
The idea of a short-term loan arose after Baxter & Woodman consulting engineer Rebecca Travis reviewed the status of the plan and recommended splitting work in the Core area into west and east portions instead of the original north-south division.
“I know some of the residents, not all, are going to be like, ‘Why can’t you do it all at once if we’re going to have the disruption?’” Vice Mayor Thomas Stanley said.
Commissioner Joan Orthwein agreed.
“People on the west side are going to have a beautiful new road,” she said, “and the people on the east side are going to be, ‘Well, what happened to us?’”
Baxter and Woodman’s revised plan includes replacing a 24-inch drainage pipe with a 48-inch pipe next year from the road to the canal behind 3500 Polo Drive. To sweeten the odds of getting permission from the South Florida Water Management District, the engineers propose enlarging a .25-acre lake at The Little Club to .5 acre. The district does not consider a lake smaller than .5 acre as helping drainage.
Both projects will add $710,000 to the $10.3 million capital improvement plan. Gulf Stream also spent $305,000 last year for minor drainage work.
The engineers and town officials are negotiating with The Little Club on how to minimize effects on the golf course from expanding the lake.
Also in 2022, the revised plan calls for reconstructing roadways and installing new water mains on Old School Road, Polo Drive, Middle Road and Golfview Drive west of Polo, Palm Way, Banyan Road west of Gulfstream Road, and Wright Way. Projected price: $3.2 million.
In 2023 the engineers will design and get permits for similar work on Sea Road, Gulfstream, Bermuda Lane, Oleander Way, Middle Road and Golfview east of Polo, Banyan east of Gulfstream, and Lakeview Drive. Construction would follow in 2024. Price tag: $2.6 million.
Options if commissioners decide to borrow money include pushing the design of the east portion up to 2022 with construction in 2023. Lyons and Rebecca Tew, the town’s chief financial officer, will crunch numbers for the commission’s Aug. 13 meeting.
In other business:
• Commissioners set a tentative property tax rate at the rollback rate, $3.67 per $1,000 of taxable value, which will generate the same $4.6 million in taxes as last year. Town Manager Greg Dunham said his budget includes $10,000 for new carpet in the commission chambers and a 4% cost-of-living raise for town employees. Gulf Stream has adopted the rollback rate or below for the past six years.
• In June, Assistant Town Attorney Trey Nazzaro told commissioners that a majority of Gulf Stream’s 10 police officers have petitioned the town to unionize and the county Police Benevolent Association filed a similar request with the state Public Employees Relations Commission. Once PERC decides what union would represent the department, the officers will vote on whether to join. Nazzaro had no update in July.
• Assistant Town Clerk Renee Basel was promoted to deputy clerk in July after earning her certified municipal clerk designation the month before.
• The town anticipates receiving $413,000 in American Rescue Plan funds.