Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for saltwater canal dredging
The saltwater canals in Palm Coast play no more of a role in stormwater management than the Atlantic Ocean. Dredging the Atlantic Ocean would have no more or less of an effect on the functionality of the Palm Coast stormwater management system than dredging the salt water canals.
Why do Mr. Danko and others want city taxpayers to pay for the dredging of saltwater canals so that people who live on those canals can use the canals for boating? Why not just set up a taxing district for those fronting the canals to pay for the maintenance of their recreational boating areas?
What if we use the stormwater management funds to dredge the ocean to supply sand for dune restoration? What is the difference between that and using stormwater management funds to deepen a canal for large boats?
I would like to hear the city engineer explain how dredging these canals in their current state would make the city's stormwater management system function better.
Spend city money on swale crews — not saltwater canals
Recently, our City Council approved the contract to initiate the $187,000 taxpayer-funded study for dredging the saltwater canals.
That study is to appease one particular section who insist dredging the saltwater canals is necessary. To support their supposed need, I have seen the same erroneous and misleading talking points circulating.
One of which is that dredging is required because the saltwater canals are a part of the stormwater management system. That is actually true, but it is also misleading. It implies the saltwater canals could not handle stormwater overflow from roads and properties if not dredged, and that is not true and the city has explained this on multiple occasions.
What I have discovered: Dredging really coming down to is boating (the canals being navigable) — and even some boaters have said on NextDoor that there is no issue there — and surrounding property owners feeling entitled with an inaccurate notion that higher value properties are exclusive to the C-Section. They are not, and all properties are important regardless of value, as we all pay the same tax millage rate.
To give you a sense of the potential cost of dredging the saltwater canals, Royal Palm Beach Village approved a project a few months ago to dredge roughly 2 miles of saltwater canals at a cost of $3 million. We have 23 miles, which would be a potential cost for our city of $34.5 million.
What this matter is a great example of is wasteful spending and priorities.
Stormwater management is extremely important. One key component of stormwater management are the over 1,200 miles of swales that do require maintenance.
We currently have two crews that can handle an average of 12.5 miles each per year. We need more swale crews, and spending on them is far more important than spending needlessly on dredging saltwater canals for recreation of a few.
Bottom line is that budget season will be here in no time. Reach out to the mayor and council members expressing the need to make adding swale crews a priority — and if they aren’t being asked for by staff, then they should be asking, "Why not?"
And when it comes to dredging, that can be a special assessment on property owners surrounding the canals, as is done in other communities throughout Florida.