“There are various ways to get at this financing,” Morris said. “It isn’t free … but there are ways to do this.”
It is likely those funding mechanisms will not only be debated by the current City Council but by many iterations of council for years to come.
Broadening the scope
One of the key criticisms of the sea wall proposal so far is that it requires a whole lot of money to protect about a fifth of the city’s residents.
“On the peninsula, God knows there is no other historic district like that, people care about their homes,” Waring told City Council. “But the people who live off the peninsula care about their homes, too.”
Proponents say that not only would the wall protect homes, but also the core of the city’s tax base. Businesses, colleges, the medical district and tourism hubs all fuel the city’s economy. The tax revenues fund police, fire and other key services all over the city, Morris noted.
Councilman Ross Appel, who represents parts of West Ashley and James Island, is so far a supporter of the project. But he has questioned why the proposal doesn’t include more benefits for the rest of the city. Why not package it with a series of flood projects in a city or even countywide bond proposal, he asked recently.
“If this is not a smart plan, that is inclusive, that has pieces in it for West Ashley, for James Island, for Daniel Island, it has no prayer of passing,” he said during the voter referendum discussion.
Morris said because the funding for the sea wall project will be broken into many small steps it is not likely it could be roped into one large bond referendum. However, the city is using its relationship with the Army Corps to request a citywide study on climate risks in every area of town. The study will follow the same process the city followed to study the peninsula’s risk that ultimately led to the sea wall proposal.
The idea is that the citywide study will result in several proposed projects rolled into one package. And because it is led by the Army Corps, it follows the same funding agreement of 65 percent provided by the federal government and 35 percent from the city.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)