Small Counties Get Financial Boost

Rural counties throughout Florida are getting financial assistance thanks to a newly signed bill. Gov. Jeb Bush has signed the fiscally constrained counties bill.

State Rep. Dwight Stansel says House Bill 293 will greatly assist Florida's poorest communities.

Rep. Dwight Stansel, (D) Live Oak, said, "In these great economic times that we're having, a lot of our small counties are not experiencing the economic growth that generates that tax base to provide the services that the people need."

Total funding of the bill equals $16.7 million, going to 30 small counties in Florida. In Suwannee County, where $591,000 is allocated, residents already have an idea of where they think the money should go.

Elizabeth Bernardy, a Suwannee County resident, said, "Possibly in the schools, maybe to help some of the elderly people. A lot of them have hard times. Social Security sometimes isn't enough. I think whatever they can do for the community is a good idea."

A final budget has not been set, but the Suwannee County Commission has its eye set on fulfilling several needs.

Johnny Wooley, Suwannee County Coordinator, said, "Everything from capital projects to operationally. Currently we're looking to construct a county commissioners’ meeting room. We also have a need to put on another ambulance in our county, which will require staffing."

Here's a look at other surrounding counties: Gadsden County gets $804,000; Lafayette and Madison both with almost $704,000; Jefferson gets $603,000; Wakulla about $533,000; Taylor with nearly $325,000, and Franklin County almost $163,000.

Each county can spend the money on anything it chooses. However, it cannot be pledged toward debt.