DeSantis Signs off on $750M in Hurricane Relief
Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by local and state leaders on Friday morning at the Yucatan Beach Stand in Fort Myers for his signing of a disaster relief bill ― Senate Bill 4A ― which lawmakers approved this week during a special legislative session.
The bill provides funds for various relief efforts, including $50 million for the new Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program. Placing sand and the “temporary or permanent coastal armoring construction projects to mitigate coastal beach erosion” in preparation for hurricane landfall racked up quite a price tag. The bill reimburses up to 150,000 for the defenses alone. The funding is for coastal homeowners in Volusia County and Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Nassau, Palm Beach, St. Johns, St. Lucie, and Sarasota counties. All told, the bill authorizes 750 million dollars of relief.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will manage the program and has until January thirty-first to develop the framework. Starting February first, Floridians can apply for the grants authorized by this bill. Grant awards will prioritize those with low to moderate income but will otherwise operate on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The bill uses the money in various other ways as well. Those with uninhabitable properties due to Hurricane Ian or Nicole will be provided tax relief. It extends property tax deadlines for 2022 tax levies and allows for a tax refund for residential improvements to homes that became uninhabitable as well. $350 million of the bill will cover the costs of local government relief efforts as part of Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance projects.
However, the 350 million won’t be utilized yet. DeSantis said FEMA would cover 100% of the costs up to a certain, unknown point, and then it becomes a split of 90/10. FEMA would still be covering the 90, while the local and state governments would split the remaining ten at five apiece.
“What we’re doing with the $350 million is basically having the state pay the local government’s 5%, so you can worry more about doing things that you have to do. … This will free up local funds to undertake additional recovery and mitigation efforts. And if you look at the $350 million and matching, that basically equates to about $7 billion in total reconstruction and recovery projects that will be undertaken by local governments.”
-Governor Ron DeSantis
The bill also puts 250 million towards Florida’s environmental preservation, 15o of which towards the reimbursement program mentioned earlier, and the other 100 towards restoring storm and wastewater infrastructure. The final $150 million goes to aiding homeowners and renters, partially through the tax as mentioned above reliefs.
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