Santa Rosa County is focusing on getting state funding for water quality projects this year. To prevent a repeat of having county projects slashed like in the previous legislative session, county officials, lobbyists from Johnson & Blanton and other staff made a trip to Tallahassee to meet with the executive and legislative branches and state agencies.

MILTON — Forgive Santa Rosa County leaders for feeling picked on by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2019 session when he vetoed $2.5 million-worth of their projects.

This time to prevent a repeat of having county projects slashed, Santa Rosa County Administrator Dan Schebler, county lobbyists from Johnson & Blanton and other staff made a trip to Tallahassee to meet with the executive and legislative branches and state agencies. They want to make sure they know during the upcoming 2020 session what state leaders value as funding worthy.

Schebler said the county is pitching its requests as ones that improve water quality, such as one in the Avalon Beach subdivision.

“Paving 5,000 feet of Santa Monica reduces sediment in the bayous and bays,” Schebler said. “It’s a water quality project, not a road paving project.”

Santa Rosa commission chairman Sam Parker said he supported the meetings with state leaders, especially the governor’s staff.

“It’s invaluable to meet with those teams,” Parker said. “We need to be planning and designing to show them the whole picture.”

In his first year in office, DeSantis rejected funding the expansion of Woodbine Road in Pace, upgrades to the I-10 Industrial Park, a new training tower for Midway firefighters and funding for the new Santa Rosa County Courthouse. Overall, DeSantis slashed about $131 million from the $90.9 billion state budget.

Schebler said county staff is still in the process of refining the costs for each project. Santa Rosa County plans to submit the following:

• Paving 4,920 feet of Santa Monica, which is part of an agreement with the Florida Department of Protection to stabilize and control erosion in the Avalon Beach subdivision. Several roads have already been paved there and three others are planned with BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill RESTORE money.

• Doing the second phase of paving on Camden Drive and installing storm water upgrades and drainage structures.

• Upgrading the size of East Bay Boulevard culverts and installing drainage structures to reduce roadway flooding.

• Expanding and enhancing athletic fields at Pensacola State College in the south end, which could include planning, designing or building amenities there.