In Florida, the equal-share state pot will go directly to coastal counties, with eight Panhandle counties receiving 75% of the funds, and the other 15 coastal counties receiving the remaining 25%. Most counties are forming an advisory committee to make recommendations on how to spend these funds. Your voice is important in this process, from helping to select committee members to recommending projects to be funded. There will be much pressure to focus on economic development and infrastructure projects. Support for environmental restoration and protection projects is vital. In general, the Board of County Commissioners will have the final say on selecting projects. Commissioners appreciate hearing from their constituents and encourage you to attend and participate in commission meetings.
Florida Gulf coastal counties have formed a Florida Gulf Consortium to plan for distribution and use of Florida’s share of the impact-based state pot of RESTORE Act funds. Each coastal county has a representative on the Consortium. It appears that Gov. Rick Scott will select and appoint six non-voting citizen members to the Consortium and that state agencies will provide technical support for the Consortium.
The Consortium intends to prepare one plan that will serve as both the Consortium’s plan for the impact-based state pot and the State plan to be used in the Council’s decisions. The Consortium will request suggestions from the public to help develop a scope for the plan. Audubon Florida will post a link to the request for information when it is available.
Transocean and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement related to Transocean’s role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Under the approved settlement, the Consortium estimates that Florida counties will receive $56 million from the equal-share state pot and the Consortium $44 million from the impact-based state pot. Two hundred forty million dollars will be available Gulf-wide for restoration and protection projects through the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
In addition to a representative from each Florida Gulf County, the Consortium has an Executive Committee made up of Grover Robinson of Escambia County, Chair of the Consortium; Commissioner Susan Latvala, Pinellas County, Vice-Chair; Commissioner Warren Yeager, Gulf County, Secretary/Treasurer; Mayor George Neugent, Monroe County; and Commissioner Sara Comander, Walton County.