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Brooksville to decide which projects to bring to Legislative Delegation

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During the Nov.1 city council meeting, members of Brooksville’s City Council discussed the items they will present to the upcoming Legislative Delegation meeting on December 6, 2021.  Topping the list of five is Stormwater Conveyance Improvements, Critical Facility Power Backup Plan, and Parks Infrastructure Improvements.  The final vote on the matter will take place at the next meeting on November 15, 2021.

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The projects were selected during discussions with city staff, Representative Ralph Masullo, the Sunrise Consulting Group, and Representative Blaise Ingoglia.

Parks Infrastructure originally consisted of 5 projects, however, a security gate replacement at the Jerome Brown Community Center was removed, reducing the $451,000 total by $25,000. 

The remaining park infrastructure projects are:  Tom Varn Park Restroom Replacement — $150,000.00, McKethan Restroom Renovation — $75,000.00, Russell Street Park Restroom Relocation/Replacement — $150,000.00 and McKethan Park Security Gate & Security Fencing — $51,000.00.

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City Manager Ron Snowberger reminded the council that if a project slated for the Legislative Delegation are Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), and if they are not entitled to funding by ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021), the funding match from the city would come from the Reserve Fund.

The other items the council members considered were: Fire Department Expansion — $800,000, which would require a $400,000 match from the city, and the reclamation of water to Hernando Oaks —  $545,000 with a $272,500 match from the city.   The Hernando Oaks water reclamation may be considered a higher priority at the next meeting. 

“I have a problem,” Mayor Pat Brayton began.  “I’m in favor of projects, but when I look at a matching fund out of the General Fund of $1.5 million and we don’t even have a $1.5 million Reserves, there is no way I will approve all of these projects.”  Brayton said that if all of the projects are approved, the city will need to borrow money to meet the state match or decline state funding altogether.  He went on to say that he would pass the presentation to the Delegation to the Vice Mayor if he disagreed with the final approval. 

Council member Betty Erhard agreed with Brayton and suggested the council pick the top two priority projects.  She then asked about which projects could potentially qualify for grants, to which Snowberger answered that the Stormwater Conveyance Improvements and the Critical Facility Power Backup, and possibly the Reclamation of Water to Hernando Oaks are possible candidates.

Council Member Blake Bell asked how much revenue would be generated by the Hernando Oaks reclamation project.  The council voted unanimously to obtain that information for discussion at the next meeting.  It will then be determined if this project is placed in the Legislative Delegation Request. 

Brayton recommended pulling the Fire Department expansion from the list, and said, “I love our fire department, but I’m not going to spend $800,000 on a new administrative building when I can’t get people to work in the DPW (Department of Public Works) building that’s still falling apart.” 

The Legislative Delegation is an annual public hearing, bringing together city and county officials, members of the public, and other interested parties with state government officials.  This is the opportunity for local officials to present legislative proposals, make funding requests, or express opinions on state issues. 

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