Proposed state budgets include money for Pirate City, Nathan Benderson Park, Centerstone
TALLAHASSEE -- Initial proposed budgets from the Florida Senate and House of Representatives for 2016-17 include money for Pirate City, Nathan Benderson Park and Centerstone Florida.
Those three projects selected were out of about $20 million in state budget requests from the Manatee-Sarasota area.
None of the proposed funding matches in the House and Senate budgets.
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The city of Bradenton requested $1 million for the tournament sports park at Pirate City in this year's budget after $500,000 for the sports park was vetoed last year by Gov. Rick Scott. The Senate included the full $1 million in its proposed budget, while the House only included $125,000.
Funds would be spent on "an economic development project" and "capital improvements" to the facility. The request said improved facilities would mean more events and more revenue and economic impact to the area.
In 2014, the sales tax generated by these events totaled $167,551 and resort taxes totaled $18,453, the request said.
The Senate proposed budget also included $2 million for Nathan Benderson Park, while no funding was included for it in the House proposal.
Park officials requested $11 million to cover half the required funds to finish improvements before the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Improvements include $5.5 million for a finishing tower, $9.5 million for a boathouse complex, $3.5 million for a covered spectator area and another $3.5 million for landscaping. The other $11 million would be raised through private donations, according to the request.
Mike Bennett, supervisor of elections in Manatee County, wrote the request. He said improvements are necessary for two reasons: create the only world-class rowing venue in the United States and provide facilities to help transition the park to be self-sustaining. He added the park had an economic impact of $26.8 million in the last fiscal year.
Centerstone Florida, a Manatee-based substance abuse and mental health treatment center, made two separate requests:
$740,000 to a behavioral health crisis diversion program and
$500,000 for behavioral health workforce development.
The House included more than requested at $840,000 for the diversion program and $500,000 for workforce development.
The Senate didn't include any funds, but Kathy Galea, legislative assistant for state Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said he intends to push for funding for Centerstone in the final budget.
The workforce development program would involve postgraduate training for 100 professionals in behavioral health disciplines, helping Centerstone retain needed behavioral health employees, according to the request.
A pilot diversion program already exists at Centerstone, and officials are looking for continuing funds. It offers a treatment facility to 80 seriously mentally ill adults with a history of multiple crisis unit admissions.
It reduced crisis admissions by 73 percent, diverted state hospital admissions by 99 percent and diverted from the criminal justice system by 96 percent, according to the request.
Other requests not in the first draft of state budgets include $1.5 million for Mote Marine Laboratory, $4 million for the Suncoast Regional Communications System and a total of $700,000 for two projects at the South Florida Museum. Those items could still make it into the final budget.
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter@KateIrby