Panama City, FL – The Triumph Gulf Coast board of directors voted on Monday on guidelines for the Hurricane Michael Major Disaster Recovery Program (the Program.) Through their respective County Commissions, the Michael impacted counties may apply to Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., for an award of funds to address the projected loss of ad valorem property tax asset value through an expedited application process.
Hurricane-related expenses incurred by local governments within Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla Counties from Hurricane Michael are immense. The increase in expenses, combined with the anticipated drop in the taxable value of assessed assets further constraints the ability of these counties to move forward with post-oil spill recovery efforts.
By statute, Triumph Gulf Coast is authorized to “make awards from available funds to projects and priorities that meet the priorities from economic recovery, diversification and enhancement of disproportionately affected counties.” Triumph Gulf Coast recognizes that the impacted counties’ ability to maintain or reduce ad valorem tax rates is a priority for economic recovery, diversification and enhancement of the disproportionately affected counties.
In Franklin County, The Triumph Board granted final approval to a proposal from the Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory (FSUCML) in St. Teresa for $7,998,678. The overarching objective of Apalachicola Bay System Initiative (ABSI) is to provide information and tools that will facilitate the recovery of the Apalachicola Bay ecosystem and reestablish a vibrant water based industry and working water front critical to the economy of Franklin County.
ABSI will partner with Franklin County community members as well as government, academic and non-governmental organization (NGO) stakeholders. The FSU College of Business and Jim Moran Institute will provide entrepreneurship outreach and support.
Research will be done to gain insight into the extent of deterioration of the reef system and the underlying causes of the observed decline resulting in a plan of action for recovery of the oyster reefs and the health of the Bay. The ABSI effort proposes to leverage substantial external funding in support of the research and plan implementation. Recovery of oyster reefs will translate into positive economic outcomes for those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Bay.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office proposal to the Triumph Board for $2,217,965.00 of Triumph funding to expand pre- and post-release technical education and certification training programs in partnership with Emerald Coast Technical College (ECTC), a part of the Walton County School District was unanimously approved.
The funds will be used to pave a driving pad for CDL training and certification, expanded welding certifications and computer technology certification. The program will also allow Sheriff Department employees to take classes and earn certifications in computer technology. Triumph’s participation is just under 50% of the $4,451,565.00 project.
This program is expected to reduce the challenges of those released from jail in successfully re-enter the mainstream economy, gaining employment and decreasing recidivism. The results of this program will be studied by Florida State University.
Triumph Gulf Coast’s board of directors is appointed by the Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Attorney General and presiding officers of the Legislature. The appointees to the Triumph Board are Allan Bense, Dr. Pam Dana, Chair Don Gaetz, Ben Lee, and Stephen Riggs, IV and Jason Shoaf. All meetings of the board are public.