The two-county Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) approved a plan to put federal stimulus funds to work on transportation projects after hearing that the amount of money coming from Washington may be less than expected.
MPO representatives devised the plan for spending the money, which is part of President Obama’s economic recovery plan, at a meeting last month. They based their numbers on the premise that the two counties would split $20 million equally. However, Florida Department of Transportation Regional Director Stan Cann delivered some surprising news Monday.
"At this time, it appears there will be around $15 million for the two counties," He said. "It might be more; it might be less."
Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, who chairs the MPO Board, said that her county should consider reducing the amount of money for each project, based on the percentage that the total stimulus package ends up being, relative to the $10 million figure. However, Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash said they want the city projects to have priority.
"Cities don’t have the resources that the county has," he said. "The Bradenton Beach project improves the drive to the beach and Bradenton Beach is the smallest city we have, so it’s a project for the county to enjoy."
The way the Manatee County package stands, the three Island cities are slated to receive up to $1,948,000 for their projects, Palmetto $650,000, Bradenton $1 million and the county $5.4 million, for a total of $9.988 million.
McClash said later in the meeting that the amount of money going to Manatee County projects could be lowered, if the stimulus amount is less than $10 million, or it could go the other way.
"The way we set it up, if a city project comes in under budget, the remainder would go to the county."
The MPO voted unanimously to approve the stimulus list, which will be submitted to the Federal Highway Transportation Agency.