A long debate about what to do with the wastewater system that serves Gulf Aire could be coming to a resolution.
Frank Seifert, who owns the system, urged city staff on Tuesday to join with the county’s staff and his own in coming to a resolution on the future of the Gulf Aire system.
The city of Port St. Joe already provides potable water to the subdivision and it has a dry sewer line along U.S. 98 in front of the subdivision.
And the city has been approached before about potentially purchasing the sewer system that services that same area, in private hands for since the subdivision was built.
However, a review of the plant in 2014 and an analysis of costs put the price of purchase beyond the city’s reach.
There has also been some reluctance among homeowners in Gulf Aire due to concerns about an increase in sewer bills.
The overall goal of the county is to get rid of the wastewater lagoon portion of the system, producing three or four acres of saleable land after a few years.
Mostly, the lagoon is seen as an eyesore and environmental hazard along the coast.
The county earmarked $500,000 in RESTORE funds for the purchase of the system by the city, a downpayment on the full purchase.
Those dollars would come from so-called Pot 3 funds.
Those monies flow through a consortium of 23 Florida coastal counties impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Gulf County is due to receive $12.8 million over 15 years.
Much of that money is earmarked for septic-to-sewer projects at both ends of the county, said Warren Yeager, assistant county administrator.
“It’s a benefit to the environment,” Yeager said about the Gulf Aire project.
Seifert has attended numerous city meetings over the past year and the item has been placed on the agenda several times, but any public discussion has never found traction due to the lack of details.
The city, with commissioners unsure of a price for the sewer system or the costs for assuming operations, have repeatedly balked at buying the system and earlier this month formally asked the county if it could spend the $500,000 to replace a faulty lift station.
But, last week, County Administrator Michael Hammond said the plans for RESTORE Pot 3 were too far down the tracks to amend now and the replacement of a lift station would likely not qualify.
The county had a simple goal, he added, and was willing to work with the parties to resolve it, using the $500,000.
“We wanted that stinky, smelly plant at the beach to go away,” Hammond said. “We don’t care if they buy the plant or take the effluent.”
That latter option was one that had not been discussed by city commissioners and it was a proposal, City Manager Jim Anderson said, the city could likely live with depending on the overall costs involved.
The city would increase its utility customer load, always a good thing if it could do so without assuming more debt.
“The last thing the city needs is any more debt,” said County Commissioner Phil McCroan. “Bringing on more customers would be great, but just taking on more debt is crazy.”
Seifert told commissioners Tuesday he would like to discuss options further.
Since Oct. 10, 2018, the city building department has issued 40 permits for demolitions; 183 for re-roofing of residential structures, 27 for re-roofing of commercial structures, 177 permits for a residential remodel and 12 for a commercial remodel.
In addition, 30 permits for power pole replacement have been issued within the city, 65 permits for repairs to electric service, eight for accessory buildings and 16 permits for temporary structures.