St. Augustine officials still hoping to fund local projects

Officials aim to change governor's mind on state budget vetoes for local project

King Street in St. Augustine
King Street in St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE – St. Augustine city officials aren't giving up despite Gov. Rick Scott announcing plans to strike more than $256 million from a budget that would have put into motion two big projects in the city.

The city plans to fight for the projects before the budget is final.

The projected cuts include $200,000 related to a West Augustine sewer expansion, and window replacement and restoration work at the Lightner building on King Street.

St. Augustine City Manager John Regan said the projects are affected because of the lack of funding.

“Architecture of Saint Augustine is really is the linchpin of the heritage tourism economy we are a small community with very large financial means for these types of historic buildings so we need a little bit a help from the state it goes along way and it provides the state rate of return because of the sales tax revenue from strong tourism so it makes a good partnership between city and state,” Regan said.

The vetoed Lightner building project was seeking to replace decades-old aluminum windows with historically accurate wooden windows.

Regan said that although it's important to keep up City Hall, the West Augustine sewer project is even more important because the area needs better infrastructure to bring in more commercial activity in the West King Street area.

More importantly, it provides the infrastructure that makes it possible for small businesses that would go in there to be able to develop and create jobs. Without that infrastructure, small businesses have a hard time dealing with the complex sewer system.

The West Augustine item was vetoed because the project didn't "provide a clear return for the investment," according to a news release from Scott's office.

Regan said city officials are hoping that the project's economic development impact and environmental safeguards weren't quite understood and that they can change Scott's mind.

The city of St. Augustine has made an appeal to the governor. If he doesn't change his mind, the city will try again next session.

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