Escambia May Spend $61.7 Million On Recovery Projects Including Broadband Internet, Emergency Vehicles, Parks

October 20, 2021

The Escambia County Commission will discuss a plan for spending $61.7 million in American Rescue Plan funds — a plan that includes revenue replacement, broadband internet in underserved areas, vehicles for public safety, parks and more.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) includes $61.7 million in direct local recovery assistance for Escambia County. The first half the County’s award has been received, totaling $30.9 million. The second half will be comparable and will arrive approximately one year after the first payment

Interim County Administrator Wes Moreno will make the following recommendations to commissioners on Thursday:

Escambia County Revenue Replacement — $28,358,185.52

The county lost $28,358,185.52 due to COVID-19 using ARP calculations. By putting these funds back into the county’s revenue stream, the money can be spent on a wider variety of projects.

County Broadband Fiber Project — $22,000,000

  • The county will bear the full cost, but will seek investments from FDOT and grants to potentially lower the spend. A 10GB fiber backbone will be installed throughout the county, providing the ability to provide broadband internet to underserved citizens and businesses. A portion of the fiber can be leased to internet service providers, creating revenue streams. In addition, it’s estimated that using the fiber could save the county over $1.6 million per year by eliminating microwave contacts and leased circuits for the BOCC, 911, sheriff and tax collector.

Public Health and Safety Vehicles — $4,250,000

  • Funds would purchase five ambulances, three pumper fire engines, three other fire apparatus, two other fire engines, and one ladder truck.

Parks and Recreation Upgrades — $3,302,546

  • Spending would include $2 million for the Ashton Brosnaham Soccer Complex for field lights, multipurpose room with lockers and other spaces, and upgrades to field turf and interior roads. Another $1,302,546 would be used in a project split evenly with the City of Pensacola to resurface a dozen 55-year old existing hard courts, create seven new clay courts, and create a 60 space parking area.

District 3 Library — $3,100,000

  • Renovate the existing building at 3300 West De Soto Street as a library, along with fiber internet between the new building and Brownsville Community Center.

Universal Access — $1,000,000

  • Retrofit infrastructure for ADA accessibility on both Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key.

Perdido Bay Boat Ramp and Park — Heron Bayou — $2,500,000

  • New public boat ramp on Perdido Bay for water access to alleviate overcrowding. The $2.5 million in ARP funds would be in addition to $2.5 million in grants already received.

Glynbroc Gulley, Ellyson Pond, Gatewood Ditch Project — $1,000,000

  • This area was previously damaged by the April 2014 storms which was repaired through joint efforts of NRCS and Escambia County. The ARP funding would be used to mitigate damage from future flood events.

Under ARP terms, the county must allocate all funds prior to December 31, 2024, and complete all expenditures by December 31, 2026.


13 Responses to “Escambia May Spend $61.7 Million On Recovery Projects Including Broadband Internet, Emergency Vehicles, Parks”

  1. Jeff Drakeson on October 22nd, 2021 12:35 am

    They just NOW finally approved a 2nd raise for public safety which brings them within a hundred miles behind other similar sized agencies with the same call volume or less. So you expect any competency in spending any of this money? You’re giving them too much credit.

    Escambia is so far behind the times it’s not even funny. They are more interested in special projects like tennis courts and homeless camps to make themselves look good in the eyes of a few people. But the dilapidated and or outdated infrastructure is laughable, which affects us all. Roads, bridges, bike lanes, sidewalks, lighting, storm drains, sewage, traffic light synching, up to date ambulance equipment on all ambulances (they know exactly what I’m talking about)

    My lord the list goes on….

  2. John Doe on October 21st, 2021 9:26 am

    @Sadmom… don’t be sad, mom. Pretty sure your area is included.

  3. Sadmom on October 21st, 2021 8:38 am

    Concerning County Broadband Fiber Project, hoping this includes include neighborhoods on Hwy.97 off Hwy. 29, Florida Escambia Co. District 5. Our internet is up and down all day long. Phone service too. Both by Frontier. This has been going on for over 20 years that I know of. You can not call for help like 911 if your not able to connect to service. We would move if we could.

  4. newby on October 21st, 2021 6:42 am

    Read the comments on the 3 million walk over nine mile rd at Beulah Middle with the political outrage over that and barely any on this plan with nearly 4 million on a boat ramp and tennis courts.. I guess since its Federal Bail Out money and not Escambia tax payers, then who cares?

  5. Older & wiser on October 20th, 2021 11:16 pm

    As a former county employee, I can assure you they ( the all knowing idiots downtown) don’t give a crap about what is needed or wanted by the public. They have wasted way more money than this & will continue to do so until they either die or get removed from office. They are smarter than you & I, don’t you know?

  6. Frank Bowen on October 20th, 2021 10:22 pm

    How about addressing stormwater drainage and flooding in southwest
    pensacola. We need more and deeper ditches, new culverts.

  7. Tom on October 20th, 2021 4:02 pm

    Dang, can we not focus on power and sewer infrastructure? There are some really nice to have items, but our area has recently been crushed by Sally and other severe storms… Lets get the sewer/drainage and electrical infrastructure where they need to be for future significant weather events. 1.3M for tennis courts at one location? Totally agree on the previous Roger Scott access comments.

  8. CJ Lewis on October 20th, 2021 2:42 pm

    The agenda item provides no real information about how the County Administrator determined that the county lost $28,358,185.52 “because” of COVID-19. It seems a very precise number considering the complete lack of detail provided to the BOCC and public. The very brief notation explains that the county will not actually spend the “replacement” money to “replace” the lost revenue. It all looks more like a budget “bait and switch” trick. Instead, the money will be a sort of $28+ million slush fund that can be spent on “a wider variety of Projects for the County.” A smarter approach might have been to specifically designate the money to pay for specific projects on the county’s existing “Must Do” list. I suspect that there are lots of much needed storm water projects that could be done for $28+ million. As for the $1.3 million being give to the “city” for the “city’s” tennis courts, at a prior meeting Commissioner Steven Barry complained that his daughter did not get preferential treatment gaining admittance to a city tennis camp. With a big wink and a big nod, Mayor Robinson told Barry to call him and he would take care of it ensuring that Barry’s kid got into the camp ahead of regular citizen’s children. Bet Barry is a big YES vote. To date, no one has explained why the city budget says that the tennis court project is a only $1 million project (as it has been budgeted for years and as was supposed to have been done by this past September) but Robinson now wants more than twice as much. Robinson and Bender live in walking distance of the tennis center. Any BOCC member who is a tennis club member should recuse themselves from that vote. If the county wants to spend money on tennis courts, then why not build one or more “county” tennis centers out where county residents live. I bet that f you asked county residents they could identify several potential places to build county tennis courts. By the way, one point not mentioned in the agenda item, or in Mayor Robinson’s letter, is that the city’s tennis courts are not “public” courts. You cannot just show up and use them. You have to pay big money to use them. A family has to pay $1151.67 to have access to the courts for a year’s membership. The tennis center is run as a private club for rich people. According to the current city budget document, the city’s tennis center had only 764 members in 2020. The budget does not break out where the members live by zip code. This is a lot of money to spend for so few.

  9. John Doe on October 20th, 2021 1:23 pm

    the county desparately needs floodwater solutions throughout the area. A shame that nothing will be done.

  10. Susie on October 20th, 2021 12:56 pm

    I agree @DonaldCooper. I don’t think the County knows how to fix the problem.

  11. Donald W Cooper on October 20th, 2021 9:16 am

    Only one million for flooding projects should be at least 20 million

  12. Alan on October 20th, 2021 7:51 am

    “The county lost $28,358,185.52 due to COVID-19 using ARP calculations. By putting these funds back into the county’s revenue stream, the money can be spent on a wider variety of projects”

    I think the better choice of words would be, “…..the money can be WASTED on a wider variety of projects” which is exactly what is going to happen with it.

  13. Still here on October 20th, 2021 12:56 am

    It is totally appropriate of Commissioner Barry to use this to reach Broad band internet to the northern end of the county. These are funds that are related to the pandemic.

    It really floors me to see and hear the comments from the bully spastic interrogatory dude that went to D5 town hall and sat in the back. He should have been led out in a straight jacket yet he still posts on some the the crazy facebook pages as well as that other guy at the town hall that seems to have the mentality of someone who was dropped on their head.

    During COVID it became apparent that some of the citizens could not work from home nor school from home.

    It is true, internet has become as important as running water.

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