The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held its monthly meeting Oct. 17, 2018 at the Marathon Government Center. Here are some of the highlights:
RECEIVED UPDATE ON THE RESTORE ACT STATE EXPENDITURE PLAN FOR FUNDS FROM BP OIL SPILL
In 2012, The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) was enacted. The RESTORE Act’s Florida State Expenditure Plan took five years to develop and was made official on Oct. 1, 2018 with the final approvals from the Governor’s Office and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.
Florida received $291 million from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill penalties to use for environmental water projects state-wide along the Gulf of Mexico. Of that funding, Monroe County is receiving $12.6 million for its canal restoration program. The funding is spread out over the next 12-15 years.
Commissioner George Neugent was recognized for his strong leadership for five years on the Executive Committee of the Gulf Consortium, which developed the plan. Twenty-three Florida counties were eligible for the funds.
“Commissioner Neugent fought hard so Monroe County would get an equal distribution of the $291 million,” Monroe County Legislative Affairs Director Lisa Tennyson said. “Originally, 75 percent of the funding was going to the eight Panhandle counties and remaining 15 counties would split just 25 percent. We would have got less than $5 million. He also fought for each County to put forth their own projects.”
The plan is available at: www.gulfconsortium.org/draft-state-expenditure-plan.
Neugent, who was attending his last meeting as a Monroe County Commissioner, will be honored for his 20 years of service on the BOCC at the next Commission meeting on Nov. 20, 2018 at the Harvey Government Center in Key West.
APPROVED WAIVING AFTER-THE-FACT DEMOLITION PERMIT FEES NEEDED DUE TO HURRICANE IRMA
Monroe County staff acknowledged there was confusion after Hurricane Irma regarding the permits necessary for the demolition of damaged and destroyed structures. They also noted that the majority of property owners who demolished their structures to clean up their properties did so without intent to violate the requirement for demolition permits.
To be fair, the Commission approved an ordinance to amend the Code by providing a waiver of after-the-fact demolition permit fees as a result of Hurricane Irma. It also includes refunding such fees to those who already have paid them. This waiver runs through April 30, 2019.
The need for these permits is fundamental for safety, with licensed professional required for disconnection of utilities, as well as for the proper removal of asbestos.
APPROVED A CONTRACT AMENDMENT THAT MOVES FORWARD THE PLANTATION KEY COURTHOUSE AND DETENTION FACILITY PROJECT
The Commission approved incorporating the Guaranteed Maximum Price of $32.8 million for the Plantation Key Judicial Courthouse and Detention Facility into the Construction Manager at Risk contract with Biltmore Construction Company.
The project, which includes demolition of aging and obsolete existing buildings on the site, is co-funded by the 2014 revenue bond and the one-cent infrastructure sales tax. There will be a few additional costs that will bring the total cost to $34.1 million.
APPROVED TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL AGREEMENTS FOR 19 CAPITAL PROJECTS TO IMPROVE THE KEYS
The Commission approved agreements with government and non-profit groups for 19 capital projects throughout the Keys. Many of them are for repairing damage caused to recreation areas by Hurricane Irma and for coral restoration projects.