Port Authority considers RESTORE projects

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 11:47 AM.

In a wide ranging discussion about the RESTORE Act and the potential for dollars to Gulf County, the Port Authority identified several priorities, particularly holding onto the barge terminal land under threat of foreclosure from Capital City Bank.

Much of the discussion was about the broad strokes of the RESTORE Act, which provides for dividing possible BP fine monies from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

In particular, Port Authority board members were focused on so-called Pot No. 1, which represents, under RESTORE, money that would come directly to the eight disproportionally impacted counties in Florida.

The estimate of the amount possibly coming to Gulf County ranges from $15 to $20 million, though a trial date in the civil case against BP has not been set and there is no civil settlement, which the RESTORE Act specifically addresses.

Board chairman Leonard Costin proposed that the Port Authority propose sponsoring and being the first recipient in a revolving economic development fund. The idea is aimed at the land under threat of foreclosure.

“My thought is we need to apply for that $5 million loan,” Costin said, alluding to the $4-plus million the Port Authority owes Capital City Bank. “I am thinking a loan interest loan with variable terms or to apply for a $250,000 grant to address environmental problems in the (old mill site).

“I think we could be the sponsor of a revolving economic development fund that would be countywide and be the first recipient to tap into it. Paying it back would make it easier to swallow” for the Board of County Commissioners, the final say in how county funds are spent.

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