DeSantis Vetoes $1 Million Times Square Grant

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You may have seen Florida Governor Ron DeSantis touting a record $109 Billion budget on Thursday. What you most likely did not see was his $3 Billion in line-item vetoes, which included a $1 million grant to help pay for the Times Square renovation on Fort Myers Beach.

Fort Myers Beach Town Manager Roger Hernstadt had been bragging about receiving the grant money to help pay for the Times Square project and said waiting to have the funds in his hands was one of the reasons to delay starting the project until the end of next season. DeSantis referred to projects he vetoed as pork when discussing the new state budget Thursday.

Hernstadt told the town council that if any money was spent on the Times Square project before the grant money was is in the town’s bank account, those expenses would not be eligible for the grant money.

Hernstadt has said the town would be getting $2 million in grants to help pay for the Times Square renovation, which is estimated to cost about $3.5 million. The town borrowed $10 million several years ago to pay for upgrades to Bayside Park, Bay Oaks and Times Square. Hernstadt has told the council that $10 million will not be enough to cover the cost of the three projects.

The renovation will include every restaurant getting new pergolas which will replace their umbrellas. Sandcast clay pavers will be installed, which will be strong enough to handle a fire truck, and have a soft feel on bare feet. It’s the same product already installed on Old San Carlos. There will be a covered stage, a moveable FMB Logo sign that the council believes everyone will use as an area to take selfies. It’s unknown if there will be a big sail by the pier that some people feel block the view. There will be some type of clock in Times Square. Whether it’s a new clock or the current clock is still undecided.

The town has not gone out to bid on the project yet.

When it does begin the project is expected to take about 4 months to complete.

It’s unclear how the Governor’s veto will impact the funding of the project at this time. The next town council meeting is Monday at 9AM.

 

26 COMMENTS

  1. Deborah Lallo said it well. There are things that are definitely needed and other items that are not. The business owners that are at Times Square can offer a lot of great advice on what is needed vs. not needed. They are there everyday. So much waste by so many politicians. Cut out the waste. Thank you governor.

  2. Adding a tax is great idea however, all has to go through the state for approval and no state will allow that without getting their cut. The town shouldn’t have to borrow anything. It’s poorly run and projects are done based on personal interests. Yet another fail for the town manager who has the pat on the back from your mayor. That a boy, great job putting the cart before the horse. Toot your horn. Beep beep. Dare I say blow because I’ll get redacted. And the mayor will fry foul and pout.

  3. Hey Kirk and Jay, yeah, God forbid some of all those taxes islanders send to the state should ever come back to their benefit the town.
    BTW does anyone at Town Hall ever listen to the Times Square business people like the Lallos? She seems to have some good ideas. Maybe send your manager over soon to listen over a cup of coffee. Some managers I know actually do that. Often.

  4. Pavers and water lines are a must to be replaced!!! As far as a huge FMB sign or a sail – those aren’t necessary. The view speaks for itself. Stage would be great but we can’t get enough businesses to support our Times Square Merchant Association so we will probably not be able to continue to
    Pay for bands, insurance, permits etc. and I’m sure the Town will want more for use of the stage. We had to quit using the stage they rented to us before because of the cost. The sail covers for our restaurant (Pete’s) would be a fail as we still would have to have umbrellas – the sails have openings – birds and rain don’t care where those openings are. The pergola was for every other business and when those louvers are open still the same problem. When closed it will be hot.
    Do the new pavers and we can live with our own umbrellas. We buy new ones every year. This should cut back the budget quite a bit! If $10,000,000 was borrowed already – why weren’t these projects budgeted using that amount.
    If no money came as grants to Lee County, that’s a shame. But times are tough and maybe there were other areas that needed the $ more.
    As much as a pain as it is to deal with, I still say add a city .50 sales tax. The County did it – why not the city of FMB?

  5. A long succession of legislators representing the island, one after another, have had little to no influence at all in bringing meaningful dollars or much of anything else here. Haven’t had in decades, not since the 80s when then-Senator Frank Mann persuaded then-Governor Bob Graham and the Legislature to buy Black Island and Lovers Key, saving it for public parks and protecting it from development.
    Protecting that grant was the job of our representatives in Tallahassee. Influence with this governor could have gotten that money left in the budget. Did they try? Did anyone at Town Hall ask them to do so?
    Blame begins with them.

  6. Kudos to the Gov. I keep hearing of record tax revenues from record tourism in Lee. County. Pet projects should be paid for locally by local funding. Or, here’s another thought… they can be delayed until Margaritaville gets cranked up and starts filling the tax coffers to overflowing. 😜

  7. Last month, Gov. DeSantis held a press conference at Lovers Key with several of the Lee County Leaders touting a huge budget surplus from the County tourist bed taxes this past Season that would more than cover the Ft. Myers Beach improvements. I watched it on WINK news. It might still be in their archives. I can agree with the Governor’s reasoning behind the vetoes being spurred by the non-stop and rising inflation numbers. He also parked the State owned $20 Million jets as well…..

    • Jay…What’s even more interesting was that DeSantis announced a ton of funding for projects while at that Lovers Key event. Not a penny of those projects was for a single project in Lee County.

        • Spot on Barbara and Lee. Yes the Town has a lobbyist who either doesn’t have the influence he professes Or he didn’t effectively communicate to the Town leaders the potential of a veto. Or the Town leaders chose to wear rose colored glasses as they looked at funding sources for its multiple capital projects When was the last time the lobbyist appeared before Council with a report? How frequently does the Council get status reports from the lobbyist? What direction does the Council give the lobbyist?

  8. How can you promise grant money until you have it in your hand? I have written a lot of grants and one never promised any dollars being paid forward until the Governor(in this case) or the board approves it. Which by the way usually involves an intensive questioning by the state board.

  9. Well….maybe there will be room in our Town budget for part of the renovation, like the pavers and stage. (And…I still love our Gov!)

  10. I think they also need an information booth again in Time Square. Also, I think it would be nice to offer beach wheelchair rentals from this booth. Even though they can be rented from some of the bike stores, it makes more sense to have them available where the majority of people park.

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