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Budget conference: House, Senate $3M apart on emergency preparedness budget

Weather stations and a flood plain model get bumped.

The House and Senate are still $3 million apart on emergency preparedness funding.

The Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development bump list shows the House is seeking $2 million for a statewide comprehensive flood plain model and $970 for phase 2 of the “Florida Severe Weather Mesonet.”

The latter appropriations request would head to WeatherSTEM for the purchase of 50 weather stations for the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The hardware would cost $700,000 and a three-year software and hardware maintenance plan accounts for the other $270,000.

WeatherSTEM is a Florida-based company that produces several “smart weather” monitoring products with the capability of providing “hyperlocal” weather information.

The budget request says the weather stations are outfitted with cameras and would me installed throughout the state to provide real-time monitoring information to FDEM. The stations are fairly small and unobtrusive, allowing them to be installed at existing state facilities such as universities.

The first phase was funded at $970,000 last year. The funding would be nonrecurring.

The emergency preparedness differences represent about a third of the $10.2 million gap between the chambers regarding FDEM’s 2020-21 budget.

Most of the other items are capital outlay projects on the FDEM critical facility needs list. The largest is $1.65 million for a Gulf County communications upgrade. The House is also seeking $1.5 million for comms upgrades in Washington County and $1.3 million for the second phase of the City of South Bay Emergency Shelter and Care Center.

Smaller projects on the list include storm hardening projects at the Fort Walton Beach Recreation Center ($350,000) and the Westside Facility in Coral Springs ($750,000).

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