County RESTORE committee solicits ideas

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 09:19 AM.

Many answers have yet to be filled in, but the county RESTORE Committee is seeking ideas from the public.

In a pair of town hall meetings at each of the county early this week, the RESTORE committee provided an overview of the legislation that would divide civil fine money paid by BP due to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and how those funds would flow to impacted states and counties.

Committee members also distributed the template for a “pre-proposal” as to potential projects the county might consider as the process moves forward.

There are still many unknowns, as Jennifer Jenkins of the RESTORE committee said and the final say in any funding for local projects, should the process proceed as currently legislated, would be with the Board of County Commissioners.

A recent criminal fine has nearly no bearing on the ultimate civil penalty, though it importantly established culpability for the civil trial expected in the spring.

The total civil fine, which a federal judge will determine after trial early next year, is therefore an unknown and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which will oversee disbursement of civil fine monies, has yet to establish a rules matrix for how projects will be judged and funds appropriated.

Of particular focus for the eight impacted counties in Florida is language in state law that establishes a process for the disbursement of so-called “Pot No. 1”, which represents more than a third of the fine money and will be distributed among five states.

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