A number of municipalities and community organizations in the area sought help for various projects through inclusion in the state’s new $109.9 billion budget but were denied, and the proponents of those projects will have to find other solutions or wait until next year and try again.
Gov. Ron DeSantis struck down roughly $3.1 billion with his veto pen. One of those was the Town Shores water line project in Gulfport, as City Manager Jim O’Reilly informed the City Council at its June 7 regular meeting. There was no mention of how the City might proceed any other way in the immediate future since the funding request was rejected.
“We can submit something again for next year’s budget,” said O’Reilly.
The request was for $1.5 million for what was referred to as “Gulfport Potable Water Quality & Pressure Improvements” in the State’s 12-page document listing vetoed projects.
Last week, in response to a follow-up inquiry from The Gabber Newspaper, O’Reilly said the City is “continually looking at securing outside funding sources for an infrastructure project such as this. As of today [June 15], we have not identified an appropriate source.”
Several other projects in the surrounding communities made the veto list. One of them was a $585,000 request regarding the Tierra Verde Community Foundation Grand Canal Dredge.
TVCA vice president Larry McKinnon, who chairs that organization’s Government Affairs Committee, told The Gabber that state Rep. Linda Chaney plans to redirect her funding request to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as part of the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program, and other options that have recently opened up will also be pursued.
“Members of the GAC discussed with Pinellas County official Brian Lowack additional funding options and it was determined that if the Army Corp of Engineers approves the Grand Canal as a borrow source for the Pass-A-Grille Shore Protection project, the governor’s veto will have no effect on the project as the sand would be beneficially reused in conjunction with the Pass-A-Grille project,” McKinnon stated. “We are very thankful to Rep. Chaney for continuing her fight in Tallahassee to help find ways to fund the resident’s portion of the Grand Canal dredging project.”
A proposed Pinellas County Sheriff Pursuit Driver Training Facility, for which PCSO requested $4.885 million from the state, appears to be dead in the water for the time being. A PCSO spokesperson told The Gabber, “We will stop our planning for the facility, as there is currently no other funding stream.”
Two projects submitted by Pinellas County Schools were also on the veto list. One was a Summer Career Acceleration Internship Program ($500,000) and the other was a Joint Use Recreation Facility ($400,000).
Two other rejected projects were from St. Pete Beach: Fire Station 22 ($2 million) and Community Center Shoreline Rehabilitation ($1.65 million). There has been no comment from either the City or the school district on updated funding plans for any of these projects.