BRADENTON -- At Thursday's BOCC meeting, commissioners chose to join 23 Florida counties in a consortium to receive compensation from the BP fund set up to reimburse coastal counties for losses after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Although no oil ever hit Manatee's shores, the tourist industry reported lower occupancy from Ft. Myers to Pensacola for the season following the disaster. Manatee stands to receive upward of $4 million, which can be used for a variety of programs.
Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker told the commission that all of the counties would have to agree to join together, otherwise the process could get drawn out and complicated. The amount each county would get depends on a couple of factors.
Assuming all counties join in, one of the key factors gauging the pay-outs will be population. Each county will be required to supply their own documentation and the start-up funds to present their case, and Manatee's amount is said to be $1,120. This will go to set up the legal team representing the consortium. All counties have to be on board by December 31, 2012.
Depending on the amount BP is willing to settle on, Manatee could receive as little as $4 million and as much as $15 million. The funds would be used for job creation, enhancing natural resources and storm prep. Once the case is filed, Manatee can opt out of some of the provisions the consortium agrees upon without jeopardizing their settlement.
The vote to join the other counties in the suit was approved unanimously..
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