Council Agenda: Hire Dredging Lobbyist to Fight Red Tape?

Council Agenda: Hire Dredging Lobbyist to Fight Red Tape?

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Shallow water at low tide on the bay near West 17th Street in Ocean City. Credit: George Robinson

City Council on Thursday will consider spending $5,000 a month to hire a lobbyist to chip away at the wall of regulatory roadblocks preventing Ocean City from dredging its clogged lagoons and bayside channels.

A resolution on the agenda for the public meeting 7 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 28) asks council to approve a professional services contract with Tonio Burgos and Associates of New Jersey, LLC.

The contract would pay Burgos $5,000 monthly for 11 months in 2016 for a total of $55,000.

“TB&A maintains a significant array of longtime effective working relationships with elected and appointed officials in New Jersey as well as key opinion leaders in various business associations and prominent advocacy organizations in New Jersey and our federal officials in Washington, D.C.,” the company writes in its proposed scope of work for the City of Ocean City. See Agenda Packet for complete details.

The lobbyist says he “will schedule meetings with key decision makers and leaders in all sectors to help secure the best plan for the City of Ocean City to discard their dredge spoils.”

Ocean City officials say they’re committed to dredging the bay side from “tip to tip,” but the current operations involve hauling dredged material away by truck, a painstakingly slow and costly process.

The more cost-effective and sustainable solutions are held up by environmental regulations and the slow wheels of bureaucracy, an engineering consultant told the public at Monday’s Town Hall Meeting on dredging.

City Council will decide on Thursday if they believe a $55,000 investment in a lobbyist could ultimately save the city much more money on $20 million worth of work planned for the next five years.

Also on Thursday’s agenda:

  • Dredging Consultant Contract: In addition to potentially hiring a lobbyist, City Council will consider adding a $160,000 contract with ACT Engineering Inc. The consultant would continue sampling, design and consulting work related to “Site 83,” the biggest approved disposal site for Ocean City’s dredged material. Council has approved other contracts with ACT totaling more than $1 million.
  • Road Improvements Phase I: Council will advertise for bidders on the first phase of Ocean City’s 2016 road improvement program. The work will be completed in the area around 14th Street to 16th Street. (See PDF below.)

The agenda also includes separate proposals for bulkhead work, Bayside Center improvements and an agreement for housing weather station equipment at 59th Street.

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