On May 1, 2012 the Aransas County Navigation District reluctantly took over the operations of Rockport Beach. It had been 25 years since Navigation District employees had worked on the Beach and there were a lot of surprises. 1st we couldn’t find any keys; all of the locks were re-keyed or replaced. There were no traffic or regulatory signs anywhere and they all had to be replaced.
The District also encountered numerous deferred maintenance issues that had to be addressed as soon as possible:
-- The entire west wall of the Maintenance Barn at the front of the facility was rotten and crumbling.
-- The Saltwater Pavilion steps were severely rusted beyond the point of repair.
-- The carpet in the Saltwater Pavilion was worn thin and caked with years of celebratory spills.
-- Of the 2 redundant sewage lift station pumps, one was one was out of commission.
-- The pavilion roofs that were damaged in the violent hailstorm of 2011 had not been repaired and leaked profusely.
-- The concrete pilings supporting the pavilions were deteriorating.
Most of these issues have been corrected and the last two items will be corrected soon. In 2012 the initial repairs plus the purchase of the capital equipment necessary to maintain the facility came to $230,000.
After 20 months of ACND management, the facility is truly in great shape.
2013 revenues from user fees alone were a record $522,000. Expenses have been reduced from $563,000 in 2011 to $492,000 in 2013. I am extremely proud to announce $54,000 of net income after expenses for 2013. This was the first time in 25 years that the facility did not operate in the red and for the first time in 25 years Aransas County taxpayers did not have to make up the losses.
As anticipated, upcoming infrastructure maintenance expenses such as replacement of the boat ramp and replenishment of beach sand have become necessary. The roofs still have leaks because of the insurers insistence on piecemeal repair; they will be replaced this year and we continue to repair the concrete pilings. The District has already secured a Parks and Wildlife grant for a significant portion of the boat ramp expense and we will be pursuing Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue from the entities that the Beach facility serves. By state law only coastal counties may collect this tax.
These additional user generated revenues will allow us to keep the entire facility in top condition while keeping Aransas County residents’ taxes and user fees low. While the District received no Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues in 2012 or 2013, they have historically been allocated to the facility.
I commend ACND Harbormaster, Keith Barrett and his staff for bringing this jewel of Aransas County back under control. They consistently operate and maintain the boat ramp facilities, parks, beaches, and festival grounds, which make our County such an attractive destination, to the highest standards. This team makes the ACND the absolute best value in government.
--- (via ACND / Tommy Moore)
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