DeSantis vetoes $700K for Washington Co., Holmes to see new multi-agency facility

Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed the state’s $109.9 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023. The historic budget includes more than $40 billion in federal funding and a record $1.24 billion in tax relief for Floridians. It also called for nearly $3 billion in vetoes, including more than $1.75M in proposed Holmes and Washington county projects.

The Governor vetoed three requests for funding in Holmes County; however, those projects will still see fruition due to already being on the budget as a combined budget item known as the Holmes County Government Efficiency Center.

The proposed 22,500 sq. ft. building is set for construction at the current Holmes County Emergency Management Services (EMS) office on Highway 90 in Bonifay. DeSantis vetoed separate requests for $500,000 toward the facility’s construction and $325,000 to build a separate 60′ x 125′ UF/IFAS facility. The Governor also vetoed a request for $250,000 to purchase the Holmes County Agriculture Center from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which was condemned in 2019 due to the presence of high concentrations of mold. County Commissioners expressed that by acquiring the facility, the county would be better prepared to apply for funding needed to complete repairs and renovations so that it could resume normal activities at the center. While that request was also vetoed, the Governor did approve $4 million for the Holmes County Government Efficiency Center on Thursday, funding that Holmes County Coordinator David Corbin says will allow the agricultural center to be included at the new complex.

“I’m happy with the amount of funding that we got,” said Corbin. “We appreciate the Governor, as well as Rep. Brad Drake and Sen. George Gainer for looking out for our rural counties.”

The Holmes County Government Efficiency Center will house several agencies, including EMS, Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, UF/IFAS Extension office, and the Holmes County Agricultural Center.

In Washington County, the Governor vetoed a $700,000 request to fund improvements at the Washington Cunty Agricultural Center. The project was proposed to remodel the entryway to be compliant with Americans With Disabilities Act regulations, as well as to make drainage improvements, expand the parking area, and to make aesthetic improvements such as landscaping.

Washington County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tray Hawkins says those improvements are still a priority.

“We appreciate the Governor’s budget, and we understand that he is fiscally conservative,” said Hawkins. “We will continue to seek other funding options in the next fiscal year and look for other grant opportunities.

“Florida has preserved freedom and kept the economy open, which has enabled the state to outperform the nation in jobs, growth, and business formations,” said DeSantis in a press release Thursday. “Our commitment to freedom has paid off. Our responsible fiscal policies have put the state in a strong position to make the record investments needed to support growth and opportunity in spite of the reckless fiscal and monetary policies of the Biden administration.”

The Governor went on to say the budget will have historic reserves at the end of Fiscal Year 2021-2022, totaling more than $20 billion, and reserves for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 are estimated to begin the year at more than $16 billion.