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Local lawmakers worried about bill affecting control of Restore Act money

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:34 PM CDT
A bill in the state senate has some county leaders worried.
The bill deals with the distribution of Restore Act money.
An amendment added to the bill late last week would create a non-profit organization to oversee that money.
The organization, to be called "Triumph Gulf Coast," would be tasked with investing the principal and distributing a portion of it to the affected counties each year.

Senate President, Don Gaetz's, office which worked on the bill says the committee would only deal with restore act money given directly to the state and tonight there working on writing an amendment to specify that.

But Santa Rosa County Commissioner, Lane Lynchard, says he and other county leaders in Florida are concerned with the language of the bill.
He says it gives state lawmakers too much say on how the counties spend the money.

Channel 3's Anthony Pura has more.

In Santa Rosa County, commissioners have created an advisory committee to filter through proposals and projects Restore Act money could be used for.  If this bill passes, they might have no say on how that money is used at all.

That's what county lawmakers are worried about.
And that's something, residents worry about too.
At Ace's Fillin Station restaurant, in Milton, owner, John Bright, remembers the impact of the oil spill on Northwest Florida.

John Bright
"Basically a lot of people that were struggling and I had friends and family who lived out at the beach...and restaurants and they just didn't know what to do."

He says millions of dollars worth of Restore Act money should go a long way in making the area better than it ever was.

"That's an investment to our area...and that's money that's staying in our Area."

An exact amount is not yet determined.
Nor how it will be spent.
And many don't want to leave that decision to Tallahassee.

Dena Richard, Pace
"We were the ones affected by it...not the whole state...just the county itself."

Some point to the spending scandal by Tourism Director, Mark Bellinger, in Okaloosa County as to why state oversight is needed.
But Santa Rosa County residents say more oversight will do more bad than good.

John Bright
"Just because of a few bad apples, it shouldn't ruin the whole situation... I just think if you have more people involved in what's going to happen with the money. The money won't go in the direction in needs to."

The Appropriations Committee will take a vote on the bill tomorrow morning.
Anthony Pura, Channel 3 News
Local lawmakers worried about bill affecting control of Restore Act money


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