Manatee-Sarasota projects escape governor's veto pen

skennedy@bradenton.comMay 21, 2013 

MANATEE -- Area projects escaped Gov. Rick Scott's veto pen Monday, including $5 million for a Sarasota aquatic center, $2.3 million for Bradenton's IMG Academy, $1 million for a Manatee County water project, and millions for Port Manatee, officials said.

Also in the budget: more than $2.5 million for Anna Maria Island beach renourishment, $1.69 million for Lakewood Ranch's Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine; $500,000 for Braden

ton's homeless, and $660,000 to Sarasota's Fetal Alcohol Diagnostic and Intervention Clinic.

Ports across the state cashed in with $278 million allocated for development, according to the Florida Ports Council.

It was not immediately clear Monday how much would be coming to Port Manatee, said Julie Yeh, corporate communications manager for the port.

The money will go toward infrastructure improvements "to do more business, or attract new business with the objective to create economic impact and new jobs," said Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras, speaking by cellphone from Brazil on a business trip.

The budget crafted by the Florida Legislature and the governor was a success, said state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

"Manatee County did very well with this budget, and with this governor," he said.

Scott vetoed more than $368 million in projects Monday out of a proposed $74.5 billion budget, according to the Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Some projects he approved with strings: Officials at Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park aquatic center and at Bradenton's IMG Academy had to sign formal documents pledging to return the money if the governor "is not satisfied" at the amount of sales taxes the projects generate, according to state documents.

"I think it's a good precedent the governor has implemented," said state Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, noting last year's $5 million allocation resulted in park improvements aimed at attracting the 2017 World Rowing Championship.

"They will possibly do the world championships here in Sarasota-Manatee counties, and that's why the request was made for the additional $5 million," Holder said. "It's kind of a success story."

About $2.529 million will match federal and local beach renourishment monies, said Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County director of natural resources.

The county also scored a $1 million grant to reduce pollution in wastewater at its Southwest Regional Reclamation facility, he said.

Money for LECOM medical college and pharmacy school will reduce tuition for Florida residents, Galvano said. Money for the homeless will benefit Galvano's namesake, the Galvano One Stop Center, he said.

The Fetal Alcohol Diagnostic and Intervention Clinic, which primarily aids youngsters brain-damaged by mothers who drank alcohol while pregnant, got $280,000 in recurring funds and $380,000 in non-recurring money, said Kathryn Shea, president and chief executive officer for the Florida Center for Early Childhood, where the clinic is housed.

"I am doing a 'happy dance,'" she said.

State Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said he also was "very happy" about money budgeted for the clinic.

"It's the only one in Florida, and it provides such a great service," Boyd said. "We were very happy we were able to keep that in the budget."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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