I am proud to inform you all three GIBA replacement causeway bridges are designed to last 75 years. They are also far safer and more reliable than the bridges they will replace. Daily traffic flow will be improved with the elimination of the “speed bumps,” and they will be the very first coastal bridges in our state to be built to withstand a 17-foot hurricane-force storm surge.
The hard work of our board, our engineering committee, led by Thor Johnson, and our finance committee, led by Bill Holmberg, has resulted in solid, successful engineering and finance plans. They will ensure we have first-class bridge designs ready on time, and sufficient construction funds available on time to pay for these GIBA replacement bridges.
Next month, in March, our GIBA toll customers will begin observing our Phase 1 Construction. Orion Marine Coastal construction crews will be on site working along the causeway, and in barges nearby, as we begin the major $14.3 million project to replace our center and south fixed bridges.
On February 1, GIBA paid off our Bank of America loans ($1.2 million) out of our cash reserves. In two weeks GIBA financing for this key Phase 1 project will be accomplished via a short term $15 million line of credit with Bank of America.
In early 2014, when GIBA’s two new fixed bridges are complete and operational, the board plans to be ready to fully fund the Phase 2: Construction. That is when the three-year project to replace our historic swing bridge with a taller, new swing bridge at an estimated cost of $22 million should begin. To make this final construction funding happen on time requires GIBA to increase our current annual revenues by approximately $1.7 million.
The key GIBA Board financial question: What is the best mix of available toll revenues and, possibly, tax revenue options to meet that goal? The GIBA Board needs to determine in the next few months which options to pursue, and they are actively encouraging input from island residents and businesses.
To help our customers best understand GIBA’s limited revenue raising options, the GIBA finance committee, under Bill Holmberg’s direction, has prepared a solid, detailed plan, that was presented to the public on January 26, and is now available on the GIBA web site, giba.us; (simply go to the tab: Press/Media).
This latest GIBA finance plan provides a variety of revenue options: Raising the current cash toll, decreasing the discount, and possibly adding a new property tax.
Your GIBA Board is actively seeking maximum community input on these issues. They would like to know which toll increase and possible property tax options residents and businesses desire, and why. They also recognize the charm and ambiance of the village community requires our island businesses and restaurants to remain vibrant and healthy.
To best accomplish this key GIBA and community decision-making process, the GIBA board has set up a new “Community Toll/Tax Information Program,” led by GIBA board member Pete Saeger. The purpose of this new information program is to gain citizen input on what the island community feels is “best balance” over the next two years to raise the approximate $1.7 million annually in additional revenue.Pete Saeger is ready and willing to take the various GIBA revenue mix options to homeowners associations and business groups over the next few months, to help provide one-on-one information to the public and to gain feedback. GIBA is seeking what folks feel is the “best balance” – a mix of these three options, to ensure GIBA can raise annual revenues by $1.7 million annually.
This funding is necessary to finance GIBA’s phase 2 construction of the swing bridge, and to pay off the new fixed bridge loan.
If our community believes the property tax is desirable, the GIBA board needs to place a bridge property tax referendum on the ballot this November, and the language must be ready to file by August, 2012.GIBA encourages community members with positive toll/tax ideas to send them via email to Jim Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please “CC” Pete Saeger (email@example.com).
Everyone is invited to listen and participate in ongoing public GIBA board discussion of these options at the next GIBA quarterly board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14, in the auditorium at the Boca Grande Community Center at 9 a.m.
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