published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Veto pen spares pair of local projects
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - Florida Governor Rick Scott has inked the state's new $74.1 billion state budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The action included some $368 million in vetoes.
It appears that a couple of Highlands County programs escaped the governor's red pen - the $2 million Fisheating Creek Floating Aquatic Vegetative Tilling System and a $12,000 improvement project for the Boys & Girls Club of Highlands County.
The Fisheating Creek project is designed to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the water through the use of floating aquatic vegetation.
The process, called "Phytoremediation," uses metal-accumulating plants that clean soil and water contaminated with toxic metals. The process takes advantage of the fact that there are some plants that may be used as a sort of "solar-driven pump," which can extract and concentrate particular elements from the environment.
Proponents describe the process as an "environmentally friendly and cost-effective" technology.
The Fisheating Creek Basin extends from west-central Highlands County just south of State Road 66 southward into the northern portion of Glades County, and eastward towards Lake Okeechobee.
It includes Fisheating Creek, the C-41 and C-41A canals and Indian Prairie between Lakes Istokpoga and Okeechobee.
The Boys & Girls Club was looking for $12,000 from the state for renovation of a three-story building on Pomegranate Avenue in Sebring to be used for their offices and thrift store. That rehab work is slated to be done by workers from the Avon Park Youth Academy as part of their partnership with the Home Builders Institute, which teaches young men construction trades such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical skills.
Other area communities weren't so lucky. For instance, Frostproof lost out on a $150,000 allocation for new generators at its Main Street Water Plant and funding for a water storage tank. The biggest hit for Frostproof was $500,000 that had been requested for workforce infrastructure for the city.
Meanwhile, another proposed $200,000 for a dental clinic in Lake Wales fell to the governor's veto pen.
Hardee County's Regional Wastewater Service Improvement, a proposed $500,000 allocation, also was cut from the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The list represented about two-thirds of $107 million in projects suggested by exclusion by Florida TaxWatch.
In his response to the news, Florida TaxWatch President and Chief Executive Officer Dominic Calabro said, "It is clear from the high number of vetoed projects that the Governor carefully scrutinized all of the Budget Turkeys TaxWatch identified, which is the intent of the Turkey Watch Report. The budget processes that TaxWatch relies upon to identify Turkeys are important assurances that taxpayer dollars are being appropriated to the highest and best use."
For a list of those items on Gov. Scott's veto list, go to www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Veto-List-2013.pdf/.
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