Find Out Why Franklin County Didn't Apply for BP Settlement Money

Bp settlement
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jul 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-15 13:23:46-04

FRANKLIN CO., FL (#WTXLDigital) - Known for its bays, oysters and 200 miles of beaches, Franklin County experienced the BP oil spill like many other coastal communities in the southern United States.

Five years later, communities are still working with the courts and the oil giant for compensation to help recover from the damages.

Franklin County, however, says it did not lose revenue from the spill but actually saw an increase in tax revenue in the area.

Alan Pierce, Franklin County's Director of Administrative Services, says the local gas tax, sales tax and tourist taxes all increased after the spill.

The county says this tax increase is because of a BP recovery office in the area, as well as, tourists visiting Franklin County. Due to the increase in revenue, Franklin County says they could not justify applying for money from the settlement.

Even though the county decided not to seek money in a lawsuit against BP, that doesn't mean they aren't getting some of the disaster funds.

Along with all other Florida counties and cities, Franklin County says they could not individually sue for property tax losses.

Instead the Florida Legislature created the Triumph Gulf Coast Fund. This fund will distribute $1.5 billion of the BP Florida settlement to the state's most affected counties.

Franklin County is seeking money from the fund to help restore its property values and local economy.

In addition to the loss of property taxes, some of Franklin County's public fishing and boating areas received excessive use from BP responding to the spill.

The county claims that because of this use, there was a loss of "human use" of these facilities. They say they are receiving money through the NRDA process to improve several boating ramps and piers including Lombardi, Indian Creek, and both Eastpoint and St. George Island Fishing piers and boat ramps. 

Some surrounding areas did request settlement money. According to County Administrator David Edwards Wakulla County received $434,000. The City of Tallahassee received $2.6 million and the Leon County School District accepted a $1 million dollar offer.

Those who have received money are still in the process of deciding how to spend the extra cash.