Budget conference: Senate offers $8M to rebuild Fort Myers Beach town hall, far more than House
Image via Fort Myers Beach.

FMB Town Hall
The Senate also wants to help with lost revenue for Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel.

Senators want to rebuild Fort Myers Beach Town Hall after Hurricane Ian destroyed it. But to date, the House is holding out on sending more money ashore.

The latest offer from the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Committee includes $8 million to rebuild the public facility.

Fort Myers Beach officials in an official request for funding said they want to buy commercial property and rebuild the structure there.

“This would increase public access, which has been greatly limited since Hurricane Ian,” the request from Fort Myers Beach Town Manager Andrew Hyatt reads.

“It would also provide not only a dedicated space but more secure council chambers for many years to come. The purpose of the project is to quickly reestablish a stable venue for town government, with a time frame of less than 8 months versus a 3-4 year build-out.”

The reconstruction was a top priority for both Sen. Jonathan Martin, a Fort Myers Beach Republican, and Rep. Adam Botana, a Bonita Springs Republican.

“Hurricane Ian recovery and resilience projects are all number one priorities for our team,” Martin said.

That’s because even 18 months after the major hurricane made landfall in Lee County, the region continues to recover.

“Last year, they were just digging out,” Botana said. “Now, they’re rebuilding.”

The Senate also included more than $7.5 million in revenue losses for Fort Myers Beach tied to the storm, the full amount requested by Martin. The upper chamber also wants to provide more than $9.9 million for lost revenue for Sanibel, another coastal community heavily impacted by Hurricane Ian.

But the House Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Committees last offer didn’t cover any lost revenue. It included some money for a Town Hall, but only $500,000, one-sixteenth of what the municipality sought.

The Senate also budgeted $350,000 for reconstruction of a Sanibel bridge on Periwinkle Way and another $350,000 for other road construction on the island tied to Hurricane Ian damage.

The House’s latest offer includes no money for either of those needs.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

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