SEBASTIAN – Citing concerns of red tape and onerous requirements, the Sebastian City Council decided not to accept a $21,000 grant for engineering work on a long-anticipated water project.
The city for years has been discussing establishing a mooring field in the Indian River Lagoon in the Main Street Boat Ramp area and building two finger piers out into the water.
Wednesday night, the council decided that it did not need the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s $21,000 grant money to proceed on its own with the preliminary work.
“This one seems to be out of whack,” Vice Mayor Don Wright said of the grant, explaining that most times more grant dollars are awarded than what the city has to put up to match.
In the case of the FWC grant, though, the city would have had to “match” the $21,000 from the state with $57,500.
Accepting the grant, too, would have required the city to work within the state’s timeline and meet other requirements it would not necessarily have to without the state’s involvement.
Fellow council members expressed similar concerns with the grant.
“Grants do get problematic,” City Manager Al Minner agreed, especially when the funds involve the state or federal governments.
He added that unless grant funds rise to a much higher level, the city has to put in the same amount of work for a $20,000 grant as it would for $1 million.
Minner said he believed the city could absorb the would-have-been $21,000 grant funds within the city’s recreational impact fees or other revenue sources and save the aggravation of working within the parameters of the grant.
“I think we can make do,” he said, adding that by rejecting the grant, the city could gain in both time and freedom – working on the project as the city sees fit.
The grant funds would have gone to the preliminary engineering work the city would have to do regardless in order to move the project forward.
Minner told the council that, on the surface, the mooring field and piers sound like simple projects to do – construct the piers and set up spots out in the water for boats to tie onto.
“Those are great projects,” Minner said, but hardly simple due to the environmental issues associated with them.
The council unanimously rejected the grant by the end of the discussion.
Minner said after the council meeting that the city would still continue to move forward on the mooring field and piers by utilizing funding sources other than the FWC grant.