Representatives from 19 of the 23 Florida counties that were affected by disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill met Thursday morning in Panama City Beach to discuss RESTORE Act funds.
The Florida Association of Counties held the meeting to discuss forming a consortium to watch over the settlement process. The RESTORE Act says that 80% of money fined for Clean Water Act penalties will go to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. Depending on how much BP is fined, which could range from $5 billion to $20 billion, Bay County could receive as much as $129 million.
The five affected states will split 35 percent of the RESTORE Act funds, but Florida is the only state to have money sent directly to the affected counties. The eight disproportionately impacted counties — Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla — will receive 75 percent of the funds, with the remaining 15 coastal counties splitting 25 percent.
The money is being split among the counties based on a formula that took into account amount of oil that affected the shoreline, population, distance from the spill and other factors that were determined by the FAC. The money is to be used on the ecological and economic restoration of the counties.
Bay County representatives say that residents can expect to see the money used in areas they can see. County Commissioner George Gainer says that he hopes that the money will be used in ways that will take the financial burdens off of the taxpayers backs and help move forward some projects to improve Bay County.