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Jimmy Patronis in Jacksonville, 7.9.2019

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CFO: Slow FEMA payouts are ‘crippling’ Florida cities and towns

“I’m not a little concerned, I’m a lot concerned.”

A glimpse at the frustrations in Washington and Tallahassee over FEMA’s slow payout after recent storms were on offer Tuesday in Jacksonville.

CFO Jimmy Patronis, talking to media after an event spotlighting storm preparedness, told of the conversations he’s had with Florida’s former Governor and current Senator, Rick Scott, about D.C.’s inability to come through for the Sunshine State.

Patronis had just wrapped up a conversation with Jacksonville officials, who have had their own frustrations with slow pay after Matthew and Irma in recent years.

While Jacksonville awaits tens of millions of dollars still, it is solvent. Other municipalities have it much worse, Patronis noted.

“The lack of FEMA dollars coming out of Washington D.C. and cities not paying for essential services, not paying their bills is a real concern for me,” Patronis said, calling the lack of action “crippling.”

“I spent a lot of time with Sen. Scott on the phone yesterday,” Patronis said of the man who appointed him to the position originally.

“Sen. Scott has dealt with his level of frustrations about Washington, about how the process works,” Patronis said.

“How we move the needle with FEMA. I’m not a little concerned, I’m a lot concerned,” Patronis added, about the “level of participation” from FEMA regarding Hermine, Matthew, Irma, and Michael recovery costs.

FEMA is not moving money to the state level quickly enough.

“Right now, I’m not cutting enough of those checks,” Patronis said, “because the Feds aren’t sending enough money.”

Cities are hamstrung.

“These counties and municipalities do have the ability to borrow money from the private sector,” but they aren’t necessarily “creditworthy” because of storm damage.

Patronis ultimately expressed confidence that FEMA would come through but vows to be the “squeaky wheel” until they do.

For Florida’s incumbent statewide Senators, Governor, and Cabinet members, President Donald Trump was a big part of the campaign close and even chose Panama City for a rally this spring.

However, such political attention hasn’t appreciably expedited storm relief.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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