U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis has secured $13.79 million for local appropriation projects from the federal budget, the largest haul of all Tampa Bay House members.
Ranging from expanding mental health services for disenfranchised patients to investing in infrastructure improvements, Bilirakis received approval for all 10 funding requests he filed to address unmet needs within Florida’s 12th Congressional District. All in all, Tampa Bay Congress members directed $35 million in funding from the federal budget for specific community projects — an announcement that comes as Congress members were able to submit local appropriations requests for first time in over a decade.
“While I am no proponent of big government spending, I have a duty to ensure my community receives its fair share of allocated federal resources and to be transparent about my efforts to prioritize these important projects,” Bilirakis said in a statement. “These projects will help strengthen our local infrastructure, benefit our community and assist local residents.”
Below are the approved projects funded by the budget:
— $3 million for the AmSkills Workforce Training Innovation Center. The funding will go to the renovation of the AmSkills Workforce Training Innovation Center, which will serve a low income area of Pasco County, as an Economic Redevelopment training facility for local residents of the Holiday, New Port Richey, Port Richey and surrounding communities, as well as create the beginning of a regional workforce training district.
— $2 million for the Mental Health Collaborative Project between Premier Community Health Center and Community Health Centers of Pinellas County, which are both federally-qualified community health centers. The project will help to address unmet mental health needs in Pasco and Pinellas counties, which has only increased in demand throughout the pandemic, according to Bilirakis’ request, which added that both counties have seen a dramatic rise in suicide rates over the past decade
This project would enable the centers to offer mental health services to more uninsured and underinsured patients in Pasco and Pinellas counties.
— $1.75 million for the Pinellas County Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Public Safety System. This system will establish a singular platform for all emergency response agencies, including call taking, records management and evidence management. The project hopes to improve public safety and increase interagency efficiency throughout the county.
— $1.6 million for the Oldsmar State Street Drainage Ditch, which will enclose the ditch with a box cover to mitigate the unsafe conditions from the undermining of driveways, streets and sidewalks on a public street.
— $1.75 for the Dade City Wastewater Treatment Plant. This project involves the design and permitting of the city’s wastewater treatment plant relocation and upgrade.
— $1.5 million for the Zephyrhills Lift Station and Force Main Project. These funds will assist with wastewater system improvement in Zephryhills that will allow the city to balance wastewater flow, provide water quality protection and support water supply needs in the Hillsborough River Basin.
— $1 million for Rural Northeast Pasco Community Park Site Acquisition. These funds will be used to create a community park as qualified by Pasco County’s Level of Service goal. In more populated areas of the county, impact fees pay for buying and developing parks; but, in rural northeast Pasco County, such fees are not collected because of low development.
— $240,000 for the Pinellas County Tidal Check Valves Project. The Pinellas County Tidal Check Valves project involves purchasing and installing 15-25 tidal check valves to prevent saltwater intrusion into stormwater drains to combat sea-level rise.
— $750,000 for the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking Prevention Initiative in Tampa Bay. This project will enable the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking to expand prevention, intervention and long-term support services for victims of human trafficking throughout Tampa Bay.
— $200,000 for the Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender’s Office’s INTERCEPT Project. The funding for INTERCEPT will allow the unit to take on the task of delivering food, personal hygiene items and other necessities to the county’s homeless population, veterans, and children faced with food insecurity. The unit will also provide transportation for those transitioning to inpatient treatment programs and others who do not have the ability to facilitate necessary transportation to behavioral health appointments.