Thanks to a bulge in Florida’s treasury and action by a joint legislative panel, three cities in Volusia County and a private nonprofit organization will receive state funds for their local projects.
The post-budget action is a new program of “local support grants” to local governments and groups that benefit communities.
Florida’s 2023 fiscal year began July 1, but the Legislative Budget Commission Sept. 9 agreed to fund $175 million worth of capital expenses and activities that were not included in the state budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Legislative Budget Commission is a panel of representatives and senators from both parties who are authorized to add and fund 238 extra line items beyond those listed in the state spending plan and perhaps vetoed by DeSantis.
DeBary, Deltona and Holly Hill will receive money for public improvements, while a Daytona Beach-based organization will get help for its work in promoting and aiding homeownership.
In DeBary, one of the city’s main roads will be upgraded with $250,000 coming from Tallahassee.
“We applied for a 50/50 match on $500,000,” City Manager Carmen Rosamonda told The Beacon. “This goes from [West] Highbanks Road at U.S. 17-92 to South Shell Road. This extension will be used to extend the left-turn lane all the way back to South Shell Road and extends the left-turn lane for South Shell Road.”
There are other features of the project, Rosamonda said.
“It improves the sidewalks in that area, and it improves the pedestrian crossing at South Shell and Highbanks Road,” he noted.
Asked when the actual work will take place, Rosamonda said he may solicit bids from prospective contractors this fall, but there will probably be a delay in putting down new asphalt and concrete.
“We’re going to be doing it in the summer of ’23, when school is out,” he added.
DeBary Elementary School, located at 88 W. Highbanks Road, is often congested during the weekday mornings, when parents bring their children to school, and when they pick them up in the afternoons.
In any event, Rosamonda is grateful for the opportunity to have state dollars for the city’s public-works needs.
“It helps reduce the tax burden on our residents,” he concluded.
Deltona, meanwhile, will likewise receive $250,000 for a water project, known as the Lake Gleason flood-mitigation and Blue Spring aquifer-augmentation project.
“It’s a surface-water treatment, and the water will be chlorinated and put into a rapid-infiltration basin, where it will be used to recharge the aquifer or be put into our reclaimed-water system,” Acting City Manager John Peters said.
Deltona’s treatment of surface water and use of it to increase the groundwater is one of the requirements imposed by the St. Johns River Water Management District for the city to retain its license to pump water from the Floridan aquifer.
Peters said the total cost of the Lake Gleason project will probably be approximately $1 million, which includes the state grant.
A professional engineer, Peters said he would favor other similar projects elsewhere in Deltona.
“This is a model that can be used in other areas of the city, such as Lake Windsor,” he noted.
In addition to DeBary and Deltona, Holly Hill will receive a grant of $1,125,000 to replace its fire station, while a private group, Homes Bring Hope, will get $500,000 to aid low-income families seeking to own homes.
The local-support grants are the result of state leaders’ generosity amid higher-than-expected tax collections, especially sales taxes.
The Legislative Budget Commission’s Sept. 9 report included a report known as the Long-Range Financial Outlook, prepared by the appropriations committees of the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate, along with the Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research. The reports project the state will end Fiscal Year 2022-23 with a $13.7 billion fund balance.