Posted on June 15, 2022
When Gov. Ron DeSantis recently vetoed approximately $3.13 billion from this year’s state budget, which was signed into law on June 2, the city of Sanibel saw one of its projects on the cut list.
In a memo presented to the Sanibel City Council at its June 7 meeting, Assistant City Manager Paige LeBoutillier reported that DeSantis signed HB 5001 with line-item vetoes totaling $3,132,314,537. Among the vetoes was $100,000 sought for the Sanibel Slough Dredging and Muck Removal project.
She noted that $400,000 for the Wulfert Reclaimed Water Auxiliary Supply Tank was approved.
“Unfortunately, that suffered the governor’s veto pen in the state apportion,” Natural Resources Director Holly Milbrandt told the council of the dredging and muck removal project ask.
According to a staff report, muck removal from the slough has been identified in the Sanibel Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan as a project that has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of legacy, or existing, phosphorus in the sediments. Additionally, the city’s Watershed Management Plan has identified areas in the slough’s east basin that require dredging to maintain the slough’s capacity to contain stormwater for a 25-year storm event, as required by city’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit. A muck removal project would have dual benefits for water quality and increasing stormwater capacity.
Staff noted that the project has also been submitted by U.S. Rep Byron Donalds as a Community Project Funding Request to the House Committee on Appropriations for $1 million in funding.
“Congressman Donalds has moved that forward as a community funding project as well for both the design, engineering and construction of that project,” Milbrandt told the council at its meeting.
Some of the council members commented on the vetoed project.
“Over $1.3 billion was vetoed. Some of our own surrounding communities had hits much more significant,” Mayor Holly Smith said. “With the $400,000 reclamation tank on the turkey list – I would take the 400. If we’re going to have to have a swap, let’s go for the one that gave us more funding.”
She added that the city’s legislative consultant, Dan DeLisi, pointed something out to her.
“When we were looking at the Donax Plant under Gov. (Rick) Scott, that got axed as well,” she said. “It came back and we certainly got substantial funding for that, so try try again.”
Smith acknowledged that the city was “a little bit late to the party” for its asks last year and reported that officials will travel to DeSantis’ office in the future and see if there was a reason for the veto.
“There potentially might not be a why, but we’ll make sure that we find out if there is and how we can improve upon that,” she said, adding that the city may be able to rewrite its request differently for consideration. “I’m not going to take that as a horrible hit, disappointing for sure because we were very light. But we did make it clear that our asks this year could be more significant than last year.”
Councilmember John Henshaw also shared his thoughts.
“My experience has been there’s probably a why,” he said. “It may not be a rationale why, but nonetheless there’s always a why.”