Beaufort flood plan to cost $6 million

Storm water fees increase for property owners

Beaufort looking to create a $6 million bond issue to pay for flooding prevention

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) -The city of Beaufort has a plan to reduce flooding in one area, but it comes at a cost to neighbors. The city is in the process of borrowing $6 million to help reduce the flooding in the Mossy Oak area.

The area is around 800 acres and is known for its flooding problems.

“We’ve done the surveys. We know where the water is coming from. We know there are two basins in this 800 acres of the flood plan. We think we have a plan that will, engineers tell us, we have a plan now, except for very unusual circumstances, we can make it work,” said Mayor Billy Keyserling.

Drains, storm water gates, and more retention ponds would all be added during the project. That plan in itself will cost $6 million not including the isolated areas that also need to be fixed.

“When you put the two together, our rough estimates are about $15 million, but we decided don’t go borrow $15 million because this is going to take several years to do it. So, let’s do it as we go, look for more grants, which I’m sure there are,” Keyserling said.

For now, the city is only working on getting bonds for the project in the Mossy Oak area. The city has already qualified for one federal grant for $1 million and they plan to borrow the $6 million in general obligation bonds.

“We are going to pay for them as a revenue bond, so we have created a hybrid which doesn’t lock us in,” Keyserling said. “Interest rates are rising so it gives us a little more flexibility, and we’ll know how much more money we are going to need, gives us time to look for more grants, but meanwhile we will be paying them off with this increase in $30 a year in storm water fees.”

If council approves the bonds, the $30 increase will be added to property owner's storm water fees. The annual charge of $105 will rise to $135.

"We decided that, you know, we would raise the storm water fee to the point it can amortize the debt on bonding - borrowing money."

As for the project, they are already starting even though council has to approve the bonds. Council created an ordinance which allows them to use general fund money that they have.

They will borrow from that and pay themselves back once the bonds are approved.

A community meeting for the Mossy Oaks area is planned for next week and City Council will vote on the bonds Tuesday. The final vote is planned for November.

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