Gov. Scott's veto pen produces wins, losses for local projects

skennedy@bradenton.comJune 3, 2014 

MANATEE -- Three local organizations felt the sting of Gov. Rick Scott's veto pen Monday, but it was offset by big wins such as almost $9 million for a new Florida Department of Transportation operations center and $5 million for the Bradenton-area IMG Academy.

Scott nixed $1 million for Sarasota's Circus Arts Conservatory, $250,000 for the Sarasota Fairgrounds and $50,000 for Bradenton's public charter school, the Visible Men Academy, according to a list of vetoed projects.

"This budget furthers our commitment to making Florida the best state in the nation to live, work and raise a family," the governor wrote in a message accompanying his budget decisions.

Projects vetoed totaled $68.9 million out of a $77 billion state budget, according to a release issued by the governor's office.

There were some wins, too: The governor spared money for a new FDOT operations center at 13900 State Road 64 E. in Manatee County, with construction expected to begin as soon as next fall, confirmed Robin Stublen, FDOT communications specialist.

The current facility in Sarasota, built in the 1950s, will revert to the state Department of Environmental Protection, he said.

The project is slated to cost approximately $19 million altogether, with about half budgeted in the current fiscal year and the remainder in the following one, officials have said previously.

It could be finished sometime in 2016, Stublen said.

IMG Academy, an athletic and sports training facility at 5500 34th St. W., retained $5 million in state funds, the governor's office confirmed.

"We're working on planning on facilities in the research and development sector of sports performance," said Chip McCarthy, IMG senior vice president and co-managing director. "We're bringing research companies and expanding with other research companies that will bring clean industry, additional jobs or high-paying jobs relative to the research sector."

Good news for fairgrounds

Manatee County Fair officials said they were elated and surprised to hear the governor had spared $250,000 to finish a 18,000-square-foot exhibit hall built in 2009 at the Palmetto Fairgrounds.

"This had been the sixth year we've applied," said Daniel West, fair manager.

Officials will use the money for an updated electrical system, bathrooms and air conditioning. "The fair directors will be very happy to hear this," West said.

About $100,000 for the Galvano One Stop Resource Center for the needy also remained in the budget, said Adell Erozer, executive director for the nonprofit Turning Points, which operates the center at 701 17th Ave. W., Bradenton.

"I'm very happy," said Erozer. "We're using it for the medical-dental program. The governor recognized the importance of our health care access for the uninsured. We'd like to make sure people understand it's not just for the homeless, but the working poor, too -- anyone of those who don't have access otherwise, have no care at all."

If the governor had not vetoed the money, about $1 million proposed for Sarasota's Circus Arts Conservatory would have gone toward air conditioning, climate control and a fire suppression system for its building at 2075 Bahia Vista St.

The conservatory is home to world-class performances, youth training and community outreach programs.

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

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