PANAMA CITY, Fla The 9-people who will help Bay County Commissioners decide how to spend money from the Restore Act met for the first time Friday.
The advisory committee elected leadership positions which will guide the group's discussions during their 2-monthly meetings as the Restore Act settlement will be a major windfall for our area.
A federal judge set a tentative trial date of January 20th, 2015, for the next phase of the B-P oil-spill trial.
But Bay County's new restore act advisory committee is already thinking about potential projects the settlement will fund.
The federal government approved one-billion-dollars for the five affected states, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Florida's share will be 357-million dollars, the majority of which will go to the 8-panhandle coastal counties hurt by the spill.
Jack Bishop is Bay County’s Restore Act Chairman. "For Bay County it's an opportunity to really move forward, and think about in the long run this is not a sprint, it's more a marathon."
The Economic Development Alliance, Port Authority, Workforce Board, Florida State University-Panama City each appointed 1-committee member, and the county commission appointed 5-members. The panel has elected Jack Bishop as Chairman, and Jay Trumbull as Vice-Chair.
Committee Coordinator Jim Muller says members say they want public input on the recommendation they'll make to county commissioners on nearly 1-thousand proposed projects statewide. "We want to be transparent, we want to have as much public participation. We want people to let the commission and the committee know what they think is important to do with this money."
Committee-member Neal Wade will also represent our area on the state restore act committee. "The Governor has appointed six of us to develop a plan that he can use to implement these funds, so that's gonna be our goal at the state level."
The Bay County Restore Committee will come up with a multi-year proposal for the county commissioners' approval. Then, committee members will start accepting project proposals. County commissioners will have final approval on all projects.