A $1 million line-item veto by Florida Governor Rick Scott could leave the Capital City unprepared during this year’s hurricane season.
City and county officials drafted the Pre-Disaster Mitigation project to better prepare the city for emergencies, but the measure was cut from Florida’s budget just days after the 2017 hurricane season began.
The mitigation, a joint project between Leon County and the City of Tallahassee, was set to ensure ten local libraries and community centers would be equipped with backup generators.
Last year, the Leon County area suffered massive power outages and damage from Hurricane Hermine. The county’s Andy Johnson says the money was vital to ensuring a safer season this time around.
“The intent was to install permanent backup generators at libraries and community centers throughout the community so that those facilities could be utilized during a future emergency event, like a hurricane,” said Johnson.
The city set up “comfort stations” during the last hurricane, which allowed residents to come to facilities to cool off, use the air conditioning, and charge their devices.
Johnson said equipping the centers with generators would also allow them to be distribution centers to bring in water and other supplies.
Following Hermine, the county completed a comprehensive after action report, and identified this project as extremely important.
“We envisioned the project to be a benefit to citizens throughout Leon County and the city of Tallahassee,” said Johnson. “The funding, if approved by the governor, would have helped both the county and the city.”
Governor Scott has cut more than $410 million in local projects from the state budget using his line-item veto authority.
The county says it is pursuing other funding resources to make sure the generators can be installed, including the Hazard Mitigation Grant program. The money would come from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, but would only cover county centers, not the ones under the city.
Regardless, Johnson says the city is prepared for whatever may come this hurricane season.