What projects would help our community?

Ken Welch, Pinellas County Commissioner

Kenneth Welch, Pinellas County Commissioner

BY KENNETH T. WELCH, Pinellas County Commissioner

In July 2015, Pinellas County accepted a settlement from BP of $7.1 million, for damages related to the BP oil spill. The settlement is a unique, one-time revenue source, and the Board of County Commissioners wants to hear citizen input on how these funds should be used.

The effort to involve citizens in this process aligns with our strategic plan goal of delivering first class services to the public and our customers.

In May, commissioners took part in a facilitated discussion to determine guiding principles for use of the funds. We did so after conducting a citizen engagement survey and receiving public feedback from more than 800 residents on how the funds should be spent.

Over the next several weeks, the board will gather more defined project ideas through a second survey that residents can complete by June 30. This is a unique opportunity to provide one-time funding for projects addressing six priority areas:

  • Community Opportunities/Facilities examples include programs or facilities for youth, veterans, seniors or special needs individuals.

  • Community Redevelopment Area Projects – projects should be located in in the South St. Petersburg and Lealman CRAs.

  • Environmental and Economic Initiatives, including Community and Cultural Development examples include land assembly, navigational dredging, recreation/community development/cultural programs and/or facilities.

  • Innovative Pilot Programs – examples include alternative energy, sustainability, and community education enhancements.

  • Public Safety – examples include projects supporting EMS, Fire, and Police/Sheriff services.

  • Transportation – examples include transit, bicycle/pedestrian trails, ferry service, etc.

The following general guidelines apply:

  • Funded projects should be aligned with the board’s Doing Things Strategic Plan, and should be planned or funded by Dec. 31, 2017.

  • BP funds will be used for one-time only expenditures that have a substantial and visible community impact.

  • Funded projects should support Pinellas’ economic and environmental sustainability, and/or create a sense of place.

  • Unincorporated area projects throughout the county will be given priority.

  • Use of county funding for projects within a city will require city participation.

Now you have the opportunity to tell us what you think these funds should be used for, by submitting your project idea online at www.pinellascounty.org/BPideas, by June 30. What’s important in our community, in your neighborhood? What project do you think will make a big impact, and move us forward?

This is a unique opportunity to answer those questions for your county commission, tell us what the most impactful uses would be. I encourage every resident to take part in this process and share your thoughts and views on how these funds can have a positive effect on our county and on your neighborhood.

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