Gulf County Commissioner Warren Yeager has been elected as one of the officers for Florida’s Gulf Consortium

Gulf County Commissioner Warren Yeager has been elected as one of the officers for Florida’s Gulf Consortium.

The consortium, in addition to electing officers, discussed potential governor appointments.

The consortium met Friday in St. Petersburg and voted Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson as chairman, Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala as vice chairwoman and Yeager as secretary/treasurer.

The consortium, which is working to develop a plan for spending RESTORE Act money, includes 22 of Florida’s 23 counties affected by the BP oil spill. Collier County has joined the consortium, leaving Franklin County as the only holdout of the 23 affected coastal counties.

BayCounty’s consortium representative Commissioner Mike Thomas has said he expects the county will get $30-50 million.

Yeager has pegged Gulf County’s potential funding at $15-$20 million.

Yeager added that with the settlement with Transocean on fines in the case, Gulf County could realize an initial payment of $2.8 million in the next 60-90 days.

GulfCounty’s RESTORE committee has been meeting and screening pre-proposals for potential projects for funding.

With the settlement with Transocean beginning the funneling of fine money into the RESTORE process, the federal rules are what the states and counties are waiting on. Those rules were due at the first of the year.

“All we are waiting for is the rules from (the U.S. Department of Treasury),” Yeager said Tuesday. “We may see money sooner than later.”

The consortium officers elected last week will appoint two additional members, said Cragin Mosteller, consortium spokeswoman, and the five will combine to form the executive committee. The two additional members have not been named, though the floor was opened for nominations at the meeting.

The consortium has nearly finalized an agreement with Gov. Rick Scott to allow him to appoint six non-voting members to the consortium, Mosteller said. The agreement has been reached, but the consortium must draw up a “memorandum of understanding” and vote on it, she said.

“Until the consortium votes on it, this is all tentative,” Mosteller said.

Mosteller said Scott’s six picks would be “citizen members” and would only give their opinions on consortium discussions and projects.

Thomas said getting the agreement with the governor settled will make everything a lot “smoother” and the appointments would serve in an advisory capacity. He added he was pleased with who was elected.

“It’s a good slate,” he said. “I think those guys have been involved in it the entire time. They’re more familiar with it than any of the rest of us.”

Thomas said Latvala’s husband is state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, so she should be well-informed on what’s going on with RESTORE Act money.

“I’m optimistic about the group getting together, trying to do things and working good together, but it’s still just a very cumbersome process,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of time.”

There has been little communication recently between Washington and the consortium, Mosteller said. At the meeting, the full consortium approved a formula adjustment for divvying up RESTORE Act funds, which U. S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, requested.

“We’re also watching and monitoring very closely the plan that’s being developed by the federal council,” Mosteller said.

Star News Editor Tim Croft contributed to this report