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Flagler Secures Millions for Beach, Roads, Judges, But That’s Before Scott Lifts Veto Pen

| May 31, 2017

Flafgler County gets to split $13.5 million in beach repairs dollars with St. Johns County, assuming the governor doesn;t veto the appropriation. (© FlaglerLive)

Flafgler County gets to split $13.5 million in beach repairs dollars with St. Johns County, assuming the governor doesn’t veto the appropriation. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County fared well in the last legislative session, securing $13.3 million (to be split with St. Johns County) for dune restoration, among many other appropriations for road projects, education, culture and the arts and more. Much of the credit goes to the county’s legislative delegation: Sen. Travis Hutson and Paul Renner.

But just because the Legislature approved the appropriations doesn’t necessarily mean the money will flow to Flagler. Much of it surely will. But the local governments and organizations in line to get the money will not bank on it until Gov. Rick Scott is done using his veto pen. He hasn’t yet started using it, having only today received the $82.4 billion budget, minutes after noon. But expectations are that he will not spare it.

The reason: lawmakers dealt Scott a few severe blows, refusing to enact the governor’s requests for $100 million for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing agency (the Legislature allocated $25 million) and keep funding Enterprise Florida, the state’s private-public economic development agency. Closing-out dollars aside, lawmakers essentially scrapped Enterprise Florida, terming it corporate welfare. Scott had also sought $618 million in tax cuts. He got only $75 million. He called for $200 million to repair a dike around Lake Okeechobee. He got nothing.

Scott used the losing battles as an effective marketing ploy for himself, turning the losses into public relations victories as he campaigned across the state with one eye on his rising approval rating and another on his likely run for U.S. Senate in 2018. His popularity rising, he can now pay back lawmakers who defied him, through his veto pen. Chief in his sights is House Speaker Richard Corcoran and the lieutenants who pushed through Corcoran’s priorities. One of those lieutenants was Renner, whose success in the House could end up costing Flagler, should the governor decide to be vindictive.

“I have a lot of options,” Scott said today in Orlando, according to the News Service of Florida. “I can veto it. I can veto a section or any line. I’m still reviewing it.”

Time is not irrelevant. The budget must be in place by July 1 to avert a shutdown of state agencies and disruptions to local budgets. Scott has 15 days to sign or veto. Last year he was done in four. If he vetoes a substantial part of the budget–education leaders, including Flagler’s, are calling on him to veto a massive education bill that favors charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools and barely increases per-pupil funding (and decreases it, once inflation is calculated)–lawmakers would have to pass a revised budget. Every day he takes shaves a day from lawmakers’ timetable to get that done. One possibility is his veto of the entire budget, which would require a special session, but would also give Scott another chance to push for his projects, including Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.

Here’s a look at the appropriations Flagler County secured, based on the 452-page appropriations bill and a Senate Conference Report that breaks down appropriations by counties.

Most substantial was the $13.33 million allocation for dunes repairs in response to Hurricane Matthew. Those dollars are in addition to previous emergency allocations. They are to be used to match up to 50 percent of the total costs, with the balance covered by federal or local funds. The money will be distributed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Flagler County may also receive $150,000 for its retired-judge program, enabling the hiring of retired judges to help with existing judges’ backlogs. Of that, $100,000 has been designated specifically for an additional county judge for a year, in Flagler.

The Flagler County school district’s adults with disabilities program, which had been eliminated two years ago and restored last year only after intense lobbying by the local school district, is again in the budget: $536,000. Flagler is one of 16 counties that will see renewed funding in that regard. The district is also getting $1.32 million in School Readiness money, which subsidizes child care for parents who work at least 20 hours a week, $1.7 million for the county’s voluntary pre-kindergarten programs, and $1.35 million in workforce education dollars.

The budget also funds $50,000 for what will eventually be the Bunnell by-pass, a connection between Commerce Parkway and U.S. 1, curving around the east side of the city. It includes $1.6 million for the design and construction of a relocated runway at the Flagler County airport (that $12.1 million project is under way), and $1.32 million for work on Old Dixie Highway’s stretch from U.S. 1 to I-95. And it includes almost $3 million for road projects on County Road 304 and County Road 205, among other infrastructure allocations.

Flagler Beach made out well, securing a $450,000 appropriation for improvements to its sewer plant. And local cultural organizations got modest grants: the school-district’s Flagler Auditorium ($15,000), the Palm Coast Choral Arts Society ($1,000), and the Flagler Beach Historical Museum ($2,500). And Easter Seals of Volusia/Flagler, a non-profit, got $100,000 for its program for the developmentally disabled.

5 Responses for “Flagler Secures Millions for Beach, Roads, Judges, But That’s Before Scott Lifts Veto Pen”

  1. Iovannitti says:

    Ok I agree with getting funds to improve dunes roads etcétera. However you all have to agree we need to do a lot more for public safety one of the most important pillars in our community. SAFETY needs to overcome and override all else. The “crime” rate has increased in the last few years and this is a well known fact. Sherrif Rick Staly needs a “minimum” of seven deputies however I personally believe he could used more. Let see how smart my community’s leaders are?. Noneone mention at least to my knowledge that Flagler County needs air support in a form of a helicopter, this would be for a full time crime-safety service usage. Flagler County Sheriff Department needs to add and have a chopper to service us all.

  2. mark101 says:

    Scott promised dune restoration along with a rebuild of that special little two lane road in Flagler Beach. . The county promised dune restoration. Right now where I live south of Washington Oaks there is NO dunes unless you want to build them yourself. Another Matthew or worst will cause a lot of public safety concerns when 1000’s lose their homes if there is any storm surge. The county Coffey ( our impersonator of Trump) talked a good game, yes your dunes will be rebuilt, but first we must take care of everything further south, like the HAMMOCK Dune area ( sucking up to the rich I guess) , but he didn’t deliver in our area yet and that’s’ been since the first of the year. .

    By the way, the crime rate was increasing way before Matthew. Maybe since we have a new cop in town that will handle it. . As far as a Chopper, good grief whats next a tank and assault land vehicles. The county can’t even buy dirt to fix a dune much less buy a Chopper. Maybe our county taxes should be raised to support these Public Safety dreams, don’t give the county commissioners any ideas, taxes could go up..

  3. Iovannitti says:

    In my book and experience Public Safety doesn’t fit the “dream” categories. In Oakland County Michigan I did my part to get not only one but two choppers, that was almost 20 years ago. I see there is a need to improve our thinking to move forward and faster.

  4. By the way, says:

    The sheriff has access to the fire departments helicopter that is equip with several gadgets to assist the cops. The only problem is it shuts down at 8 pm. If you want to do something call your county commissioners to get it to 24 hours.

  5. me, hi says:

    Veto HB 7069 ~~~ use the ink for that piece of wasted money! Public taxpayer dollars going to private education. yes sir. I have A BIG issue with that. Promised money going into thin air, NOT cool.

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