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Legislators agree to more than $21M for Keys projects, the initial ask was $60 million

Monroe County will receive nearly $21 million in state funding for its major money requests submitted to the Florida Legislature under a state $88.7 billion budget passed Sunday.

County officials asked for a total of about $60 million in money for housing-site and conservation purchases, a new emergency operations center and water projects.

After the mass shooting Feb. 14 that killed 17 at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, legislators rewrote a draft budget to fund about $400 million for increased school security statewide and mental-health outreach.

“Like in years past, we had to fight for every single state dollar but once again we were successful in bringing home a significant amount of funding for the district this session,” state Rep. Holly Raschein said in a Tuesday email. “Hurricane Irma placed a strain on both our local and state budgets, and securing funding to help our community recover was my top priority.”

Monroe County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy said she was generally satisfied with the state appropriations.

“So many places lost so much in the hurricane, I thought there was a chance we would get even less as [legislators] divided the money,” Murphy said.

Monroe County asked for a budget appropriation of $20 million to purchase property — often described as mobile-home parks destroyed by Irma — for space to build affordable and workforce housing complexes as part of hurricane recovery. That request was rejected.

However, the Monroe County Land Authority did receive new authorization to use funds the agency receives through special sales taxes to purchase property that can be used for housing storm-recovery land and construction.

Under the Florida Keys Stewardship Act, a Raschein bill that allows state money to help preserve the Keys environment, legislators approved $5 million for water projects that can include canal restoration or wastewater treatment, and $5 million toward land acquisition. The county sought $25 million.

“With the storm recovery and school program, we not sure how that would be impacted so we were pretty happy with the $10 million carve-out,” said Kate DeLoach, senior aide to Raschein.

Florida Keys Community College was approved for $5 million to build new classrooms and a storm shelter on the Stock Island campus. FKCC also will receive $250,000 to help replace the expected tuition from 130 registered students who did not return after Hurricane Irma.

The State Apartment Incentive Loan program that provides low-interest loans to developers working on housing for modest-income residents received a Florida Keys allocation of $15 million. “Developments in the Florida Keys area may use a minimum set-aside of 100 percent of the units for residents with annual household incomes below 120 percent of the state or local median income,” according to program guidelines.

Monroe County requested $15 million for a new emergency operations center at Florida Keys Marathon International Airport to withstand major hurricanes. State lawmakers approved $5.9 million.

The state budget also includes $277,000 toward the anchored-liveaboard pumpout project in the Keys; $250,000 for Monroe County’s school-based medical clinic program; and $100,000 for the Monroe Association of ReMARCable Citizens, a local nonprofit that assists the developmentally disabled.

Gov. Rick Scott now is reviewing the Florida budget for possible line-item vetoes.

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206

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