Water quality topped the list of area projects losing $1.6 million in state funding following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $1 billion veto this week.

In other local ventures, The Arcadia Rodeo lost $200,000 towards its expansion project. Charlotte County Emergency Management Services lost all of the $300,000 it needed for its decontamination equipment aimed at protecting firefighters from cancer-causing pollutants.

In education, the Sarasota County Schools Summer Learning Academy was cut out of $800,000.

Project losses that could affect the whole state include a $20 million cut for the Florida Job Growth Grant fund. In the wake of the current economic recession, this state program promotes public infrastructure and workforce training programs.

DeSantis issued the veto in preparation for revenue failures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In water quality, Charlotte County lost the biggest allocation of $1 million to the $18.8 million Countryman-Ackerman septic-to-sewer project. This project that will start soon will remove 1,933 private septic systems and replace them with public sewers along Charlotte Harbor. The county has the funds to continue with the project, said Charlotte County Utilities spokeswoman Caroline Wannall. It will use funds from the federal RESTORE program created out of payments from BP Oil after the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Punta Gorda will not receive $100,000 towards its $4.6 million drainage improvement project in the Boca Grande neighborhood, where the city has purchased land to install a retention pond. The goal is to prevent flooding and runoff pollution to Charlotte Harbor.

The state funding cut will not delay the project, said the city’s Communication Manager Melissa Reichert. “The design of the project is 98% complete. The city is currently in the process of purchasing the remaining two parcels. The city will move forward with the project with current and potential future sales tax dollars.”

North Port was to receive $300,000 for its water and sewer project at the Warm Mineral Springs Park that it acquired.

“The city will be looking at other funding sources and potentially trying to get state help next year,” said North Port Communications Manager Joshua Taylor. “We’re going to come up with a way to get it done eventually.”

And Venice was in line to receive $200,000 toward a $6.7 million water booster station project.

For firefighters in Charlotte County, Chief Bill Van Helden said the county has decontamination equipment at two stations. It was hoping to provide that function at all stations with the funding.

“We have no other funds designated at this time, but we will continue to seek other grant opportunities,” Van Helden said.

Arcadia Rodeo’s Director Maribeth Dunlap said the rodeo project is still in the design phase. It includes space for a Florida Cowboy and Ranching Heritage Museum, contestant hospital areas, executive offices and additional handicap bathrooms.

“It will be delayed until we can apply again next year for state funding,” she said.


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