Editor’s note: The following was submitted Jan. 17 as an open letter to the people of the cities of Apalachicola and Carrabelle, regarding “a fair method of RESTORE Act distribution.”



 



The real question regarding the RESTORE Act fine funds is how the monies will be allocated among the qualified projects in the area designated as being disproportionately impacted by the RESTORE Act. There is nothing in the RESTORE Act that gives this answer or specifies how this is to be done.



The county commissions that lie within this area of disproportionate impact with the help of the Florida Association of Counties (FAC), got together to come up with a plan to fairly, simply and without controversy or conflict distribute among themselves the 75 percent of the fine funds directed by the RESTORE Act to the entire area (from Escambia County to Wakulla County) of designated disproportionate impact.



After carefully considering the question and with the expressed goals of fairness, simplicity and avoidance of conflict, these county commissions came up with a distribution plan that would eliminate the presence of political bias or influence and incorporate an objective mathematical formula that would be agreed to in the distribution of this overall amount proportionately to each county area within the entire area of disproportionate impact and do it simply, consistently and to avoid conflict and even the appearance of unfairness among their peers.



This distribution plan that utilizes a mathematical formula to allocate the fine monies to each county area within the entire area of disproportionate impact arrived at by all of the county commissions has been tweaked recently – “to provide and better ensure fairness in the proportional objective distribution of the disproportionate impact RESTORE Act funds being divided among them.”



However, when faced with the same decision on how the proportionate shares of the monies are to be fairly distributed among the cities and communities within Franklin County, Franklin County commissioners have decided instead to hoard the monies and get the benefit of political favors by appointing a committee to review all the project applications coming from both within the cities and the communities in the unincorporated area and then reserving to themselves the right and authority to give final approval of those projects the county commission chooses to be submitted for funding to the U.S. Department of Treasury.



The request by both cities and other citizens to likewise fairly, simply and without conflict or controversy allocate proportionate amounts by using a similar mathematical formula among the cities and the unincorporated communities for each to evaluate and approve their own projects within their jurisdiction and their proportionate allocation of funds by their elected commissions – was rejected and ignored in large part by Franklin County commissioners.



If the method of rightly dividing using a mathematical formula is the simplest, best and fairest plan in the considered judgment of all of the county commissions for the counties to use with respect to one other in dividing up the monies to the area of disproportionate impact -- then the cities within the area of Franklin County should be given the benefit of that same simple, objective and fairest method of division – by mathematical formula.



If it is good enough for Franklin County commissioners to use in treating and dealing with and dividing up the monies with these other counties like Gulf and Bay and Escambia when facing the peer pressure of ensuring that the allocation is fair and objective -- why is it not good enough for the cities and communities within Franklin County?



Are we to be treated worse and differently than the county commission treats these other counties? Why are the citizens of the cities of Apalachicola and Carrabelle being subjected to this double standard? I think everyone knows this answer!



I have posted a petition to be signed by those persons supporting the cities’ plan to fairly, objectively and simply distribute these monies among the cities and unincorporated communities within Franklin County based on mathematical formula as already adopted and proposed by both the City of Apalachicola and Carrabelle and request each of you to consider supporting this.



The petitions can be found at the City Hall of the City of Apalachicola, 1 Avenue E, Apalachicola, Florida. Thank you for your consideration and support on this.



Van W. Johnson, Sr., is the mayor of Apalachicola.