The Brooksville City Council voted unanimously via a roll call vote to approve four high-priority projects to present to the 2023 Legislative Appropriation Delegation. The city is budgeting a 50% match for each project’s cost, requesting the remainder from the state.
The Hernando County Legislative Delegation is a public meeting where local officials meet with state elected officials to request changes or additions to law, and request state funding for city and county projects.
City Manager Ron Snowberger introduced the intended projects, shown in the table below. Sidewalk installation for North Avenue was initially included in the project list, however it was removed after a discussion of alternative funding sources.
Master Lift Station Modification – The city’s Master Lift Station was originally installed in 1950 and has exceeded its maximum life expectancy. A lift station pumps wastewater from a lower level to a higher elevation so it can continue downhill to the water treatment facility. Its replacement will limit the potential for spills and impact health and the environment.
Replacement/Upgrade to SCADA system – The City of Brooksville uses a Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to communicate to lift stations, well sites, and water distribution sites. The system needs hardware and software updates to ensure a quality level of service, and reduce potential hazards to the water supply and the environment.
Stormwater Master Plan – The Stormwater Master Plan is a comprehensive management plan which addresses runoff from rain/hurricane events. It helps city officials understand the current state of the stormwater system to make decisions regarding design standards for new development/redevelopment, transportation, water quality, floodplain mitigation, and inadequate storm sewer and culvert systems.
Replacement Street Sweeper – The current street sweeper is a 2013 Stewart Amos mechanical street sweeper which is at its end of useful life. The benefits of replacing the street sweeper will of course result in continued clean streets, which ultimately reduces flooding potential, improves water quality of stormwater runoff, and reduces the potential for contamination of groundwater.
Andrew Kalel of The Sunrise Consulting Group discussed the projects with the council. Sunrise will present the projects to the Legislative Delegation, and apprise the city officials with information on their progress.
Kalel commented that priorities of the State Legislature have changed since hurricane Ian made landfall, requiring state intervention in affected areas. “When we had these meetings with [Snowberger and staff] a few weeks ago, this was before hurricane Ian. Since Hurricane Ian, as you can imagine, the priorities of the state legislature have probably radically shifted from what we originally thought would happen. Our recommendation, or at least a thought — there’s going to be a lot of money flowing for hurricane issues. If there’s any money flowing past restoration of Southwest Florida, it’s for hurricane hardening. So looking at the projects that have been proposed by staff, I would like to say that the stormwater master plan could get a little more traction particularly at this upcoming Legislative session, than some of the other projects.”
Kalel favors the SCADA project due to the funding source by the state. Most local government projects tap Agriculture and Natural Resources funds. The SCADA project, if approved, would likely receive funding from the State Administration budget. “Not a lot of local governments are requesting a lot of projects out of that budget, other than fire trucks.”
Council member Robert Battista added insight to the deferment of the North Avenue Sidewalk installation, a project that could be funded by a “Sidewalks for Schools” fund where the Metropolitan and Planning Organization (MPO) pays for the paving of the sidewalks, but not engineering or right-of-way acquisitions.
Brooksville has an interlocal agreement with Hernando County and the MPO, where the county as the Local Area Provider (LAP) is responsible for engineering for city projects such as the North Ave sidewalk.
Kalel added that the state currently offers a “Safe Routes for Schools” grant program from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
The street sweeper could possibly be funded by an unspecified Economic Development grant. Kalel said that he would find more information on this avenue.