USA: Florida Legislature Provides New Sources of Funding for Seaport Projects
The Florida Ports Council released the following statement yesterday on Florida ports issues that were addressed during the 2012 Legislative Session.
“By increasing minimum funding levels and providing new sources of funding for strategic seaport projects, the Florida Legislature demonstrated their commitment to growing Florida’s economy and creating jobs,” stated Doug Wheeler, president of the Florida Ports Council. “International trade has been identified as the best opportunity for Florida to enhance its economy, and Florida’s ports are the gateway to trade partners all over the globe. We thank the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate for their support and leadership focused on placing Florida as a global competitor.”
Specific issues of note that were passed by the Legislature in the budget, conforming bills, and other substantive legislation include:
1. Increasing the statutory minimum for the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development (FSTED) program from $8 million to $15 million.
2. Creating the Strategic Port Investment Initiative with a minimum statutory amount of $35 million. This new program will be administered by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), in cooperation with Florida seaports.
3. Creating an expedited hearing process for environmental resource permits (dredged material) pursuant to section 120.574, F.S.
4. Appropriating $135 million in various line items of the Appropriations Bill for identified projects in the FDOT Work Program and the FSTED Program.
5. Authorizing a new bondable revenue stream of $10 million, beginning July 1, 2013, for seaport projects in the FDOT “adopted work program.”
Dredging Today Staff, March 13, 2012; Image: Manatee County Port Authority