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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Anna Maria to get FEMA windfall

Anna Maria city commissioners at a special meeting Jan. 7 quickly gave the go-ahead to Mayor SueLynn to contract for construction of a berm along a portion of the North Shore Drive beach after learning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has committed $29,500 to the project while cost estimates are only at $22,000. The city, according to the mayor, can keep the difference for any future project to halt beach erosion.

FEMA had estimated the project would cost about $32,000, of which that agency would pay 90 percent. The city would either pay the remaining 10 percent or get the funds from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or require affected property owners to pay the difference.

Commissioner Duke Miller questioned the mayor about the city's portion of the project.

"I don't foresee any contingency where it would cost the city money, but I didn't want to proceed without commission approval," she responded.

Miller also wondered why the city didn't include other areas along North Shore Drive that are also severely eroded, but the mayor said this was entirely a FEMA project and their survey team determined which areas qualified for FEMA funding. FEMA also included a portion of the beach in front of the Sandbar restaurant in the project.

The mayor agreed there were worse areas of erosion along North Shore Drive, but the decision "was entirely a FEMA choice," done under FEMA requirements to be eligible for emergency funding, she said.

Public Works Director George McKay provided four estimates to construct a berm along the severely eroded beach between 755 and 761 North Shore and in front of the Sandbar, with the lowest estimate at $22,000.

The mayor said she confirmed with FEMA that the city could keep any difference between payment and costs as a reserve fund for future emergency erosion prevention measures. FEMA has committed the funds in writing and the mayor can proceed with construction while waiting for the money.

The commission voted 4-0 to authorize the mayor to proceed.