Q&A: Public Funds for Private Property
Why should money be spent to build back
The Task Force is attempting to find funding to restore not only
general land loss, but also THE
PUBLIC BEACH on the West End, the south shoreline which is often referred to as the "West Surf
Beach." This is land that belongs to the Town of Dauphin
Property owners are not the only ones in support of
restoration. Those of us who don't own property on the West
End, or on the island at all, would like our public beach restored.
Those of us who are environmentalists want to see the fragile
environment of the Sound protected. Residents of the coastal
mainland towns don't want to see their hurricane breakwater dissolved.
There is more at stake here than just private property.
Public Funds = Taxpayer Dollars
Public funds, by definition, are monies generated from
tax dollars. Revenue from income, sales and other taxes go into
local, state and federal coffers and are then divvied up among various
There are those who say that "public funds should not be
spent to restore private property." There are two answers to that.
The funds the Task Force currently seeks to help
stem shoreline losses until a long-term solution can be implemented
are NOT public funds. They are not taxpayer dollars.
The sources sought include GoMESA, CIAP and Corps settlement funds.
More details below.
Public funds are used all the time to restore or
protect private property. See details further down this page.
Programs which are not taxpayer-funded
The GoMESA and CIAP programs are revenue-sharing programs,
funded by offshore oil and gas production royalties. They are
not funded by taxpayer dollars. These
programs were specifically created to "mitigate impact" (the precise
words from the CIAP and GoMESA mission statements) from offshore
These programs were not created to fund economic
development projects or projects in areas which are not impacted by
offshore drilling. In the past, projects which often do not fit the spirit of the
intent of why these programs were created have gobbled up the lion's
share of these funds while Dauphin Island - one of the most
affected areas - has received very little in comparison.
There is currently a bill in the Alabama State Legislature seeking
to recitfy this practice. More on this on the
The lawsuit brought against the Corps of Engineers by the DIPOA and
Jim Hartmann was with regards to shoreline erosion.
The settlement monies are privately held by the DIPOA and Mr.
Hartmann, and should be spent for the very thing
the lawsuit was about - to help rectify shoreline erosion.
It should also be noted that a taxpayer-funded NOAA
grant is currently being used to pay for an East End-specific shoreline
restoration study. There are currently no public or private funds
being used at all for a West End-specific shoreline restoration study.
Task Force Goals
The Task Force is not seeking funds to rebuild
beach houses that have been lost. Our primary goal is to safeguard
the island from further erosion and to see the public beach restored so
that it can be enjoyed by all. Task Force members and supporters
include people who are not
island property owners, and they rely on the public beach for access to the Gulf waters.
East End shoreline restoration includes
private property too
Below is an excerpt from our
West End Focus Q&A page:
It is argued by some that funds to restore the West End
will only help private property, and that monies should instead be spent
to restore the shoreline of the East End. Yet restoration of any
Gulf-side/south shore beachfront on the East End (other
than the public beach of the Audubon Bird Sanctuary) would be to
restore - you guessed it - private
If one believes that public funds should be
spent to restore public property, then this argument bodes well for
restoration of the West End since there is roughly 8 times more
public Gulf-front shoreline on the West End than on the East.
This is not to say
that we do not want to see any eroded Eastern shoreline restored - of course we
do! We simply want to point out the facts to address the public-versus-private property perceptions
which some seem to foster about each end of the island.
How public funds have been used in other
Note that other localities have used public funds
- usually through
"disaster area" declarations - to restore both public and private lands ravaged by nature
(earthquakes, tornadoes, flood, fire) or by man (levees breaking).
Public funds (in whole or in part, and in massive doses)
have been used, or are being used:
to rebuild Katrina-damaged levees which protect both
public and private property in New Orleans,
to restore the barrier islands and coastal areas in Mississippi
which help to protect both public and private property on the coastal
mainland (roads, homes and the casino industry
to renourish beachfront areas and shoreline in Baldwin County
(Alabama), in Florida, in New Jersey and many other areas across the country,
to rebuild homes, schools and infrastructure overseas
and to help rebuild cities here in the
U.S. (as well as other countries around the world) after
natural disasters such as earthquake, flood and fire.
If this is "the way of things" with public funding in
our country, why should Dauphin Island be excluded or given short
(See the Downloads
page for our proposed interim solution for shoreline stabilization for
all public beach areas on the Gulf-front shoreline.)
West End Focus