St. Johns County Commission approves $1.4 million out of reserves for Hurricane Matthew restoration efforts


The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted at the July 18 BCC meeting to use $1.4 million from the county’s reserve funds for Hurricane Matthew restoration projects.

The total cost of the proposed projects amounts to about $11.3 million. Joe Giammanco, the county’s disaster recovery manager, explained at the meeting that 75 percent, or $8.5 million, of that total is eligible for federal reimbursement in the form of a Department of Homeland Security FEMA Hurricane Matthew Grant. An additional 12.5 percent, or $1.4 million, is eligible for state reimbursement in the form of a State of Florida Division of Emergency Management Grant, leaving the county responsible for matching the remaining 12.5 percent, or $1.4 million.

In addition to approving the use of the county’s reserve funds, the commission made a motion to adopt the overall resolution, which recognizes and appropriates the federal and state grants.

The restoration projects are organized into various FEMA categories, including road and bridge, water control facilities, buildings and equipment, utilities and parks.

The majority of the $11.3 million will be used in the road and bridge category for repairing damage to sections of Old A1A in Summer Haven, which is south of St. Augustine Beach. Giammanco explained that this work entails repairing the rock revetment in the north section of the road and laying down pavement in the north and south sections. These projects are estimated to cost about $10 million, with the county planning to contribute about $1.3 million from its Transportation Trust Fund.

Giammanco proposed two projects within the water control facilities category. He said a $25,000 design project is planned to address erosion at Alpine Groves Park in Switzerland. The county is planning to contribute $3,125 from its General Fund toward the project. In addition, Giammanco said a $200,000 project is in the works to repair the county’s oceanside seawall, with the county planning to allocate $25,000 from its General Fund for the efforts.

$72,588 worth of projects are planned within the buildings and equipment category, with the county expecting to pull $9,074 from its General Fund for the work. Giammanco said Hurricane Matthew ultimately damaged 17 county buildings, including amphitheaters, libraries, bus stops and fire stations. The funds will also cover the repair of damaged vehicles and county-owned equipment.

The utilities category is divided into two subcategories: utility lines and lift stations and utility buildings and fencing. Projects addressing utility lines and lift stations, said Giammanco, include repairing five lift stations and fixing various outfalls and sewer lines. This $337,221-line item will ultimately cost the county’s utility department $42,151. Work to repair 15 utility buildings and fencing at 37 properties will cost an additional $152,285, with the county’s utility department planning to contribute $19,036.

Giammanco explained that projects within the parks category feature repair of 39 parks around the county, including efforts to restore protective ground cover and playground equipment, protective netting, fencing and facility repairs. This work amounts to a total of $158,075; the county plans to contribute $19,759 from its General Fund.

The parks category, Giammanco said, also includes projects to repair damage to the Vilano Beach Pier and Shands Pier, as well as boat ramps and beach walkovers throughout the county. These last three line items add up to a total of $220,320, with $27,540 coming from the county’s General Fund reserves.

Following Giammanco’s presentation, Commission Chair Jimmy Johns reminded attendees of the BCC meeting that more work will need be done to recover from Hurricane Matthew.

“There are others that have been tremendously impacted,” he said. “They are not forgotten. It will take more time to collect the documents in order to justify the reimbursements. This is just the first of several.”