GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County Board of County Commissioners addressed maintenance needs during their March 25 workshop were surprised to learn the public works department needs more than $16 million to get through its repair and replacement backlog.
Currently, roughly $1.8 million from the Transportation Trust Fund is spent each year to maintain the county’s routine maintenance. This includes things like roadside ditch maintenance, pipe cleaning, contract drain line repairs and more. While Clay County Public Works Director Dale Smith said there’s likely more to be done, a minimum necessity approach sees a need for $16,760, 269.37.
“This is my backlog, and this isn’t all of my backlog,” Smith said. “This is me sitting down with our road superintendents and going through the problems that they knew. I’m sure there’s actually more than this – this is scary enough as it is – and it’s rather large.”
Broken down, that $16 million need equates to drain line repair and replacement with a cost of $4,337,750, cross drain replacement at $860,000 and underdrain replacement at $11,562,519.37. According to Smith, the underdrain replacement need has been aggravated by recent resurfacing projects and as more resurfacing continues, the problem will only get worse. A cross drain is the pipe that carries all surface water under the road while an underdrain is a pipe buried in the ground, covered in rocks, that draws ground water to levels lower than Florida’s lime rock.
“Lime rock is very good roadway base as long as you keep it dry,” Smith said. “If you get it wet, it starts getting sloppy and messy and this is why you start getting a lot of cracks in the road.”
While the $16 million would help Smith and Public Works tackle the majority of the backlog, that’s a grand total cost. During the workshop, Smith proposed an annual budget to tackle the maintenance needed in Clay County. This proposed annual budget, which Smith titled the “Proposed Stormwater Budget,” sets aside $1.4 million for maintenance, $1.2 million for drain line repair and replacement, $250,000 for cross drain replacement, $800,000 for underdrain replacement, $500,000 for engineering and $150,000 for equipment. This equates to a total of $4.3 million.
BCC Chairman Mike Cella asked Smith after his proposal if Smith planned to have this budget covered under his proposed stormwater fee. According to Smith, that decision is up to the BCC.
“What I’m trying to get to is if you get the $4.3 million in a stormwater fee, what would we do with the $1.8 million out of the Transportation Trust Fund that you’re spending?” Cella asked. “Where would we utilize that?”
Smith said with the $1.8 million, he would break up that funding to tackle additional projects such as striping, grass mowing, sidewalk repair, minor road resurfacing and more. He also said what kind of maintenance occurs because of the would-be stormwater fee would depend on the fee amount.
“You all tell me what I have to work with and I’ll adjust to that,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the maintenance that this fee funds would be completed for public areas like ditches that run throughout the county, not an individual citizens’ property flooding problem. In some instances, though, public area maintenance will alleviate stress on private areas.
Considering Smith proposed his stormwater budget during the workshop, the BCC did not have a vote to make. For the budget to occur, the stormwater fee must first be passed which would be advertised, discussed and voted on during an official BCC meeting.