Dear Editor,

Rather than build a new dry dock the BOCC should look into buying a used one.

A dry dock has a life span of more than 50 years. Used dry docks can be purchased for less than half the cost to build a new one. A used dry dock that has been built in the past 8-10 year still has 40-plus years of life remaining. The purchase of a used dry dock will eliminate the necessity of the two Requests for Qualifications (RFQ’s). The dry dock is already been built, therefore no funds would have to be spent on the design, inspection, or oversight services. The BOCC approved contracts at the monthly Tuesday morning BOCC meeting for the two RFQ’s. The Engineering Design RFQ was over $400,000. I had to ask for the bid price, as no dollar quotes were revealed during the meeting. There are several companies that advertise used dry docks. Horizon Ship Brokers, Inc., has many used dry docks listed for sale, and can find one that meets the requirements the BOCC needs. There are other ship brokers that can provide info on used dry docks. A 3 minute search (used dry docks for sale) on the internet will list them.

There was a good article in the Panama City News Herald in the Jan. 22 edition. Jim Hightower’s article “Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for private companies’ growth” shows good examples of how money has been wasted supporting private companies. The promised jobs never materialize or the cost per job is enormous.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., won the U.S. Coast Guard contract. They should use their own money, not come begging to Gulf County. Some numbers discussed are $15 million now $28 million from Gulf County and $20 million from Bay Counties Triumph money. Money from local counties is a great deal for any company if you can get it. Other people’s money reduces what would have to be spent from their potential profit to meet the project requirements. Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., should fund their on contact.

In the BOCC monthly meeting in December, I asked about the return on Gulf counties investment. Michael Hammond said, “We (Gulf County) never expected to receive income from the Triumph money spent for the dry dock project”. Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., will make a profit on the Coast Guard contract. Why should Gulf County not recover Triumph money that will be spent, and use it again for other projects in Gulf County?

Should Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc., be required post a performance bond to protect the counties investment on the project, such as the number of jobs for local citizens, continued options for additional Coast Guard ships, a default on the contract, or early termination by the Coast Guard?

These and other issues were sent to each County Commissioner on Jan. 21.

Tom Semmes