City of St. Augustine backs Chris Sprowls ‘Resilient Florida’ play
Storm-flooded St. Augustine, pictured, exemplifies the need for a statewide resiliency strategy. 

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The Nation's Oldest City likes Rep. Chris Sprowls' proposal.

The Nation’s Oldest City knows all too well the havoc that flooding and sea level rise.

The city of St. Augustine offered backup to the Speaker of the Florida House last week on resiliency legislation.

Mayor Tracy Upchurch wrote House Speaker Chris Sprowls supporting his proposal to create a Resilient Florida Trust Fund. An official proclamation to this effect will follow reflecting the backing of local commissioners.

For St. Augustine, the stakes are as high as the floodwaters can get.

The House is looking to budget $25 million next fiscal year and establish a program to help local governments cover costs of addressing flooding and sea level rise. The plan, which would set up the Resilient Florida Trust Fund within the Department of Environmental Protection, calls for funding to jump to $100 million annually starting in the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

“Cities and counties in Florida have already invested over $4 billion in sea level rise solutions, therefore coordinating a statewide response is key to creating a more resilient Florida. The City of St. Augustine is keenly aware of the challenges posed by climate change and as a low-lying coastal community especially sensitive to the effects of future sea level rise. Creating the Resilient Florida Trust Fund as an available funding source for the Resilient Florida Grant Program will assist communities in addressing flooding and sea level rise challenges,” reads a letter of support from the city of St. Augustine.

The legislation is live in both chambers, with the Senate version starting out this week with its first of two committee stops.

The Environment and Natural Resources panel will hear the legislation Monday at 3:30 PM. That bill (SB 1954) is being carried by Sen. Ray Rodrigues of Estero.

“This is an issue that impacts our entire state, our homes and our businesses,” Rodrigues said about the bill.

HB 7019, the House version of the bill, was introduced by Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera and is a committee product from the Environment, Agriculture and Flooding Subcommittee. The State Affairs Committee is the final stop for that before the House floor.

“We first knew that we must understand what is at risk to better prepare for the future,” Cabrera said earlier this year. “We are encouraging regional resilience Coalitions to engage in their communities and support local efforts to apply for state and federal dollars. This will bring more money directly into our communities.”

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