Panhandle Officials Adjust Restore Act Formula - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Panhandle Officials Adjust Restore Act Formula

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Government officials across the gulf region are reacting to a deal struck between the U.S. Justice Department and the owners of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig, Transocean. Yesterday, a $1.4 billion settlement was reached between the two parties.

Senator Nelson of Florida says he's glad they're holding accountable not just BP, but everybody who was responsible for the oil spill. Meanwhile, closer to home changes are being made to the Restore Act.

This week, a resolution was put before several boards to determine a revised formula for distributing Restore Act monies. Initially the panhandle's eight disproportionately affected counties, including those from Escambia to Wakulla were scheduled to get an equal share of 10%.    

But Congressman Steve Southerland requested it be bumped up to 20% to help areas that rely heavily on the seafood industry. "We're concerned because we suffered such a heavy hit on the image of seafood and seafood is our main product right now." Franklin County Administrator Alan Pierce says.

But changing the formula means that some of the larger counties like Bay will get about a million less.

"We could find things to do with it but I don't want to jeopardize 40 million dollars for one." Commissioner Mike Thomas supported the resolution, bay county passed on Tuesday.

"It's going to Franklin County our neighbors, Gulf County our neighbors and when that water rises over there, it floats us a little higher too. The panhandle does live and die together." Thomas says.

If each of the 8t counties votes on the resolution, 20% will be split evenly; the other 80% will be divided based on additional criteria like population, oiled coastline and sales tax.

Franklin & Bay counties adopted the new suggested formula this week. The goal is to have all the counties approve the plan by the time the Gulf Consortium meets on January 18th.