Port District denies assistance to chalupa

Despite the fact that St Augustine and St Johns County residents are admitted without charge at Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park to see the 16th century shipbuilding living exhibit, St Augustine Port Waterway and Beach District refused a request for $5,000 in assistance for continued work on the 37-foot multi-purpose Chalupa and boathouse.

About 44,000 Port constituents pay a little more than $6 per $100,000 in valuation of their property to support the operation of the Port District; which currently has about $1,700,000 in cash in the bank.

In a split vote with Commissioner Benjamin dissenting, the District approved a $3,000 request from Brendan Burke of the St Augustine Lighthouse Archeological Maritime Program, during the same meeting.

Volunteers with the local non-profit, St Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation, were disappointed with the news; learned during the 3:00 p.m. regular business meeting, held Tuesday, July 17.

Also disappointed was Seat 5 Port Waterway and Beach District Commissioner, Jay Bliss; who told Historic City News, that he tried, but, “I was not able to sway the Port board to provide funding”.

Roy Jaeger of the St Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation reported that the chalupa building site, Fuego del Mar, at the Fountain of Youth is now properly permitted and properly thatched.

The District will not be likely to take up any business during the regular Port meeting scheduled in August; unless Governor Scott makes an appointment beforehand to replace Seat 4 Commissioner Tom Rivers, who resigned to run for a seat on the School Board. Both Commissioners Rippe and Bliss will be unable to attend, leaving the District without a quorum.

The discussion on millage rates ended with Port Commissioners Dixon, Benjamin, and Bliss, approving the rollback rate of .00639 for tax year 2013. Commissioner Rippe dissented. The rate will be affirmed in September, or lowered to this year’s rate of .00614.

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