The Triumph Gulf Coast board has begun the difficult work of crafting an application process and guidelines for awards in spending some $1.5 billion over the next 15 years for economic development in the region.

The Triumph Gulf Coast board has begun the difficult work of crafting an application process and guidelines for awards in spending some $1.5 billion over the next 15 years for economic development in the region.

The dollars, evolving from a settlement between BP and the federal government after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, are to be spent within the eight Northwest Florida counties most-impacted, economically and environmentally, by the oil spill.

The direct allocation to Florida, $2 billion, is the largest direct allocation to any of the five impacted Gulf Coast states that include Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Of that $2 billion, Florida legislation passed three years ago directs 75 percent to Triumph Gulf Coast.

Of the $300 million already in the bank, Gulf County, under legislation passed during the most recent session of the Florida Legislature, has earmarked for use in the county $15 million.

There will be no additional payments to Florida until 2019, at which time the state will receive nearly $107 million each year through 2033.

Of that, Triumph Gulf Coast is due to receive $80 million per year.

Under the current legislation, Gulf County would be in line to receive $3.2 million each year from 2019 through 2033.

That means Gulf County has earmarked, through 2033, more than $63 million from the Triumph pot, barring any changes to the legislation.

Based on current legislation, the Board of County Commissioners would have final say over what projects would be submitted for application to Triumph Gulf Coast.

Among the provisions for establishing award priority, Triumph’s bylaws detail that among the considerations for awards are projects which are “recommended by the board of county commissioners of the county in which the project or program will be located.”

Two subcommittees from the board of Triumph Gulf Coast, met on Wednesday in Destin to continue to craft a final application process and hone a system for assessing the parameters for project eligibility.

According to reports, there are already more than 300 potential projects in the pipeline from various counties.

In Gulf County, the lone public discussions have revolved around joint county-port applications for dollars to facilitate port development.

The BOCC has not yet indicated whether the existing RESTORE committee or another citizens committee will be established to assess projects.

Jason Shoaf of Port St. Joe, appointed to the board by Senate President Joe Negron, is a member of one of the Triumph subcommittees.

Bylaws have been approved, a governing structure established and the board has approved a succession plan for officers of the board, which is comprised of seven members, expanded by two during the recent legislative session.

Shoaf was one of those two as the legislature sought to provide representation from the less populated of the eight counties.

The bylaws map out a framework for awards to meet the “priorities for economic recovery, diversification and enhancement of the disproportionately affected counties.”

Those awards may be provided for:

Property tax reduction, local match requirements or public infrastructure projects for construction, expansion or maintenance which are shown to enhance the parameters of the mission.

Grant awards could be provided to establish and maintain equipment and trained personnel to respond to natural disasters, to support workforce preparation education in schools or to promote tourism, workforce and key infrastructure.

The board will use a scoring system for selection of projects and programs, with a priority on projects that leverage additional funds, generate maximum impacts, benefit the environment or that provide established outcome measures.

Any award will not fully-fund any project or program and there could be a requirement for a one-to-one private sector match, or higher, depending on the project, according to the Triumph bylaws.

The entirety of the award may not be made available in a given year and any award may supplement but not completely supplant existing funding, the bylaws state.

Triumph Gulf Coast will enter into a contract for every award, requiring a performance report and a full accounting of how funds will be used.

Those receiving awards must report regularly to the board on the progress of the contract.