First, the good news: The Pierce County Sheriffs Department won the $525,000 Homeland Security grant it needed to buy a new saltwater patrol and rescue boat.
Now, the not-so-good news: It must find a company to build and deliver the boat in the next 13 months or possibly lose the money.
The June 2013 deadline is a requirement to beat the expiration of the federal grant, said Lt. Peter Cropp, of the sheriffs marine services unit.
Were under a time crunch now, thats for sure, Cropp said. We need to move on this as quickly as possible.
The Sheriffs Department is contacting boat-building companies inside and outside Washington. The cost approved for the boat including sales tax is $730,000.
The vessel will replace the Sheriffs Departments last saltwater boat, Reliance, which sank last summer. A corroded water-intake pipe caused it to sink while docked in Tacoma.
The new boat will be bigger and faster and have more advanced technology.
It will be built to order, but theres no design in hand yet. The Sheriffs Department needs to know what it will get for the money and how soon a company could start building and finish, Cropp said.
After overcoming initial sticker shock, the Pierce County Council in February approved the money for the boat.
Cropp said the Sheriffs Department is aiming to get the job done for less than $700,000.
Were looking at the best boat we have for the funding we have, he said.
The Sheriffs Department got word nearly two weeks ago that the grant was approved. It is tied to 2008 federal funding that requires projects to be finished by June 30, 2013, Cropp said.
If we cant meet that guideline, I dont know whats going to happen, he said, adding that hes trying to find out if an extension is possible.
The boat is expected to be 35 to 37 feet long. It will be used to patrol 235 miles of saltwater shoreline from south of Vashon Island to Thurston County. The area includes McNeil, Fox and Anderson islands, Browns and Dash points, and Key Peninsula.
The county also shares jurisdiction with the City of Tacoma below the Tacoma Narrows Bridges and for the Port of Tacoma.
An $130,000 insurance payment for the 32-foot-long Reliance will help pay for the new boat. The remainder will come from Pierce Countys share of state boating registration fees, Cropp said.