Virginia CZM Program: 2013 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo

51

Grantee:

Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Preserving Aberdeen Creek Working Waterfronts: Survey and Study of Dredging, Working Waterfront Infrastructure and Financial Need

Project Description as Proposed:

Aberdeen Creek, located in Gloucester County, Virginia exists as an important harbor for commercial fishing operations along the York River. A Federal navigation channel into Aberdeen Creek was established in 1962. The channel is about 1 mile long, 80 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Approximately 200,000 cubic yards of dredge material was placed in a tidal marsh complex about one mile upriver. Maintenance dredging was performed in 1974. Today, commercial watermen are experiencing a narrowing of the channel which occurs at the entrance to Aberdeen Creek. Shoaling is complicating the seafood industry’s ability to travel from the dock to the fishing grounds.

Further complicating matters, Federal funding for dredging has historically been provided by the Army Corps of Engineers budget for shallow draft low use navigation projects. However, current Federal budget metrics are not providing sufficient funds at levels to sustain maintenance dredging of the 17 Federal navigation channels located in the Middle Peninsula. Federal budget constraints are likely to continue into the future. Federal navigation channels will still need to be maintenance dredged. The question facing coastal local governments is one of finance. Given the priorities which local governments finance, how can the cost of dredging harbors and channels be fairly and equitably levied against other pressing priorities? In 2011, the Army Corps of Engineers-Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority completed a Middle Peninsula Dredging Cost Study and estimated that Aberdeen Creek will cost $744,000 on an 8 year dredging rotation or a low estimate of $608,000 on a 16 year dredging rotation. Our project proposes to advance the 2011 Middle Peninsula Dredging study to the next level by exploring how the use of Tax Incremental Financing could be utilized to capitalize an Aberdeen Creek dredging project. 

Three predicates must be addressed within our project to be politically acceptable:
a) Revenue generated cannot be considered a new tax.  b) Will not take away revenue needed today to fund essential governmental services. c) Revenue distribution is equitable and has a strong nexus to public need.

It is widely recognized that Federal Funds will no longer be available for cost share. If these questions can be answered, it is our hope that a new model to fund local dredging projects across the Coastal Zone can be realized and politically excepted.. 

The project will apply the standard local government taxing schema to determine the spatial area needed to finance future dredging project and associated revenue needed:

Example:
Land and Building Assessed Value $100,000
Taxable Units = 1000
Levy = 75 cents per hundred or 1000 taxing units
Property generates $750 in tax revenue

Reassessed
Land and Building Assessed Value $110,000
Taxable Units = 1100
Levy = 75 cents per hundred or 1100 taxing units
Property generates $825 in tax revenue

New Revenue generated = $75
TIF policy could dedicated 50% of new revenue to a specific dredging fund  or $37.50

The above predicates have been met.  No tax increase; does not take away revenue, new revenue dedicated to public need.

A second essential part of the overall project will involve personnel in the Shoreline Studies Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Shoreline Studies program staff will develop a protocol for other coastal communities looking to pre-position a local dredging project for issuance of an RFP for dredging services. Basic data and assessment work is need above and beyond project cost estimates to adequately describe the nature and scope of the dredging project. Items to be included in the protocol will include, but not limited to evaluate dredging sediment, possible beneficial uses, disposal concerns, navigation concerns, condition of working waterfront infrastructure within Aberdeen Creek. 

Federal Funding:

$40,000 

Project Contact:

Lewie Lawrence, 804.758.2311; llawrence@mppdc.com 

Project Status:

10/1/13 - 9/30/14; Project Completed 

Final Product Received:

Financing An Aberdeen Creek Dredging Project Using a Tax Increment Financing Approach (PDF) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Aberdeen Creek in Gloucester County, Virginia is an important harbor for commercial fishing operations along the York River.  A federal channel into Aberdeen Creek was established in 1962. The mile long, 80 feet wide, 6 feet deep channel produced approximately 200,000 cubic yards of dredge material in 1974, the last dredging performed.  Today commercial watermen are experiencing narrowing of the channel which occurs at the entrance to Aberdeen Creek.  Shoaling is an issue complicating working watermen’s ability to travel from the docks to the fishing grounds.

Further complicating matters is the funding. Federal funding for dredging has historically been provided by the Army Corps of Engineers budget for shallow draft, low use navigation projects. Current federal budget metrics are not providing sufficient funds at levels to sustain maintenance dredging of the 17 federal navigation channels in the Middle Peninsula.  Budget restraints may continue into the future and federal channels will still need to be maintenance dredged.  The question facing local governments is, given the priorities which local government finance, how can the cost of dredging the harbor be levied against other pressing priorities.

This analysis provides an option or possible solution to the issue of financing through the compilation of the five products identified and compiled into a final report.

Product #1: Utilizing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) as a strategy to generate revenue to fund future dredging projects:
MPPDC partnered with Virginia Sea Grants to explore a new use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) authorized under the Sec: 58-1-3245 of the Virginia State Statute.  The project applied local government taxing process to help determine possible spatial area needed to finance a dredging project for the creek. Various scenarios were provided to cover cost of dredging and permitting, as well as recommendations on supplemental financing options were provided.

Product #2: Aberdeen Creek Historic Shoreline Change:  MPPDC partnered with VIMS Shoreline Studies program to quantify the historic shoreline change along the Creek.  This data was used to help determine the cost of dredging and possible disposal sites and is included in the final report.

Product 3#:  Assess Aberdeen Creek’s Waterfront Infrastructure: Scott Hardaway, Director of the VIMS Shoreline Studies program
provided an assessment of the condition of Aberdeen Creek working waterfront infrastructure and an estimate of maintenance and repairs.

Product#4: Survey the navigation channel and determine dredge placement options:  VIMS Shoreline Studies Program provided information on bathymetric contours and channel sediment sampling.  This helped to determine the extent to dredge and type of dredge material. 

Product #5: Aberdeen Creek navigation channel and associated Working Waterfront Plan: The final report is a compilation of the first four products that can be used as guidance for other local governments with similar characteristics.

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email: Laura.McKay@deq.virginia.gov

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to Virginia.Witmer@deq.virginia.gov

 
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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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