Planned work on a proposed Coligny park and some other capital improvement projects on Hilton Head Island will be put on hold because the town is short on cash, town manager Steve Riley said in a video update released Tuesday.
In the video, Riley said town reserves were depleted because of Hurricane Matthew, and that some of the biggest sources of revenue — property taxes and business license fees — are not payable until near the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, 2018. The town budget for this fiscal year includes a 5-mill increase to replenish the hurricane recovery fund.
“Each and every year we have relied on those reserves to make payroll, to keep the lights on, to start to move projects forward,” Riley said in the video. “We do not have that luxury this year.”
Riley is scheduled to be interviewed this week for a city manager position in San Marcos, Texas, near the state capital of Austin.
In the video, Riley said certain capital improvement projects, including the proposed Coligny park project, cannot go out for bid until the town gets hurricane reimbursement money from the federal government, and until other revenues come in. The town had planned to go out for bid now and begin construction this fall on the Coligny project, he said.
That project, which has been in the works since the 1990s, includes the construction of a public park, a playground and a new building for The Sandbox children’s museum.
Riley said his decision affects projects he has authority to seek bids on, including all capital improvement projects that are not yet underway. Bidding cannot happen until funds are in hand, he said.
The construction of a new University of South Carolina Beaufort campus, planned improvements to the town’s recreation center, and storm recovery efforts will not be affected, he said.
“It’s not me making a personal decision,” Riley said during a phone call Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not (the Town) Council. It’s us not being able to follow our own procurement code.”
Scott Liggett, director of public projects and facilities and chief engineer for the town, said in addition to the Coligny park project, the Fire Station 2 replacement project in Sea Pines and road work at Office Park Road and Pope Avenue also will be postponed. The south island emergency beach-fill project will not be impacted, he said.
Riley said the town does not know yet when it will receive reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for hurricane cleanup. However, two project worksheets have been “obligated” he said, which is a step closer to reimbursement.
Riley concluded his video update by saying the town has “things under control” and will be able to pay its bills.