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Funding looks likely for burying utilities

Redington Shores' mayor calls the proposed $5-million deal a "very, very good loan."

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
Published November 13, 2005


REDINGTON SHORES - A $5-million loan to lay underground utilities on 6 miles of the town's interior streets is expected to be approved at a special meeting Nov. 23.

If approved, the project could start before the end of the year. It will not include any undergrounding of utilities along Gulf Boulevard.

Tuesday, the commission gave its initial approval for the loan from SunTrust Bank.

"This is a very, very good loan," said Mayor J.J. Beyrouti.

The proposed loan is for 20 years at a 3.74 fixed interest rate, he said.

That rate might increase slightly, he said, because approval was delayed when the bank suggested a voter referendum might be needed.

Over the past several weeks, Beyrouti said he talked with bank officials and attorneys and resolved the issue. No referendum is needed, he said, since the town will not use property tax revenues or levy any assessments on individual property owners for the construction project.

"Due to the strength of finances in Redington Shores, we had five banks offer us the $5-million," Beyrouti said.

Assuming the loan agreement is approved later this month, the town will recontact the power, telephone and cable utilities to schedule the work.

In addition to burying utility lines, the town is in the midst of rebuilding its stormwater system and repaving the town's streets.

Redington Shores' decision to underground utilities follows similar actions by its neighboring communities.

North Redington Beach to the south spent $936,000 this year to complete a townwide undergrounding project to bury power and utility lines throughout the town's interior streets.

Earlier this summer, its northern neighbor, Indian Shores, began a two-year, $6-million project to underground utilities along its 2.6-mile portion of Gulf Boulevard. The town is currently funding the project through a 30-year bond backed by the town's utility tax revenues.

The first portion of the project, from the town's southern boundary to south of Town Hall, is expected to be completed within about a month.

Meanwhile, a special subcommittee of the Barrier Islands Governmental Council (Big-C) recently told county officials that the beach communities want the county to foot the entire bill for undergrounding utilities on Gulf Boulevard.

That cost of burying power, telephone and cable lines along the 20-mile stretch is estimated to be about $70-million. Funding sources might include Penny for Pinellas sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, mass transit funds, and state and federal grants and appropriations.

[Last modified November 13, 2005, 03:00:43]


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