Clay a big winner in newly-signed state budget

DeSantis approves more than $120 million in infrastructure improvements, pay increases and agency funding

By Nick Blank Staff Writer
Posted 7/2/19

CLAY COUNTY – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on the $90.98 billion 2019-2020 budget that will send millions of dollars to Clay County – albeit with a few vetoed local projects.

Clay County …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

Clay a big winner in newly-signed state budget

DeSantis approves more than $120 million in infrastructure improvements, pay increases and agency funding

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on the $90.98 billion 2019-2020 budget that will send millions of dollars to Clay County – albeit with a few vetoed local projects.

Clay County received more than $120 million in infrastructure improvements, pay increases and agency funding.

The state slated $55 million for the First Coast Expressway project, $3 million for expressway access roads and $20 million for Blanding Boulevard improvements. The next largest appropriations were $12.7 million in increases for K-12 funding in the county, a 4.64% increase overall, and $10 million set for St. Johns River and Keystone Heights lakes restoration.

“We prioritized education, infrastructure and the environment in this year’s state budget,” Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island), the Senate Appropriations Chair, wrote in a press release. “It’s a spending plan that reflects the priorities of our state and our region. We appreciate Gov. DeSantis for his thoughtful review of the budget and appreciation for the needs of Clay County.”

The Clay County Fairgrounds will receive $500,000 and the Clay County Historic Courthouse renovation netted $250,000. In addition to $696,000 for Opioid Abuse Services at St. Vincent’s Clay and Orange Park Medical Center, the budget called for $250,000 for Clay County Youth Alternative to Secured Detention (S.W.E.A.T.) and $500,000 for Clay Behavioral Health’s community crisis prevention team.

The Clay County Utility Authority received $3 million for two alternative water supply projects. CCUA Chief Operations Officer, Jeremy Johnston, said the utility was grateful for the state’s efforts.

“The two appropriations recently approved by the Governor will help CCUA fund two critical wastewater treatment facility expansions at our Mid-Clay and Fleming Island facilities,” Johnston said. “The expansions will allow CCUA to provide wastewater services to new residents and businesses in Clay County and keep nutrients that cause algae blooms out of the community’s rivers and tributaries.”

In December, several Clay county government and agency leaders told Bradley, Rep. Travis Cummings and Rep. Bobby Payne about legislative priorities before the Legislature convened. County Commissioners mentioned the appropriations at Tuesday night’s meeting. County Commissioner Mike Cella said the county needed to look at its priorities for next year.

“We’ll put those [vetoed priorities] back and develop some new priorities, but that’s something that everybody should start thinking of quickly,” Cella said.

“This is an important contribution from the state,” County Commissioner Diane Hutchings said.

Four Clay County projects were vetoed, as the governor cut $131 million worth of appropriations from the budget statewide.

A $3.5 million appropriation for a Northeast Florida youth sports complex was rejected, as well as a proposed $750,000 Camp Blanding Museum expansion. The county was the applicant for both.

Kimberly Morgan, the county’s Tourism and Film Development director, said Clay would keep looking to add to its local assets.

“While [the veto is] disappointing, any time you can add what we call in tourism, ‘product,’ or a new place or venue for experiences, that’s a good thing that helps us boost quality of life and the local economy,” Morgan said.

On the education side, Gov. DeSantis vetoed $625,000 for a Coppergate School of the Arts and $255,000 for Community Partnership Schools at Orange Park High.

Community Partnership Schools is a University of Central Florida program that partners with a school district, a university or college, a nonprofit organization and a healthcare provider. The program’s director, Amy Ellis, said the program uses community resources on the school’s campus to address the various barriers that keep students from learning.

“Though funds for Orange Park High School Community Partnership School efforts were vetoed, we look forward to providing Orange Park and other schools in Florida the opportunity to apply for an upcoming community school planning grant to begin development in the 2019-20 school year,” Ellis said.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment