Walton approved more than $7 million in grants and spending

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WALTON COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — County commissioners had a busy agenda Tuesday, discussing three projects that will affect local residents and combined spending about $7 million.

Commissioners are trying to remove derelict vessels, assist in indigent medical care and add new bike racks in South Walton. Officials said now is the ideal time to tackle the issues after the summer season has come to an end.

The biggest item of spending is a non-ad Valorem tax assessment to go to Walton’s Healthmark and Ascension Sacred Heart hospitals.

“About $6.95 million,” said County Financial Director Melissa Thomason.

It is the second year Walton officials have worked with the Agency for Healthcare Administration to provide a tax assessment. It allows the hospitals to draw additional funding from the federal government to use towards indigent care and graduate medical education specialties. This is the first month the money will be available to the hospitals.

“The hospitals do not recoup the costs of indigent care in the community and it does allow them to be closer to recouping the costs incurred in this care,” said Thomason. 

Another grant on the county’s consent agenda will pay for the removal of five derelict vessels around Walton’s waterways. The cost is between 50 to 80 thousand dollars.

“We have them in the bay, we have some in Alaqua, we have some in La Grange bayou, we have one-off of Grady Brown park,” said County Environmental coordinator Melinda Gates.

Commissioners are making life a little better for cyclists in South Walton.

“Perfect time of the year to go in and replace some of the items that may be a little worn,” said South Walton Tourist Development Council Interim Director Jason Cutshaw.

The old bike racks are deteriorating and County officials voted to replace the racks at a cost of $45 thousand.

“Replace them with better ones, probably aluminum that will last longer in the salt air, which we need,” said Cutshaw. “And just encourage that bicycle mode of traffic.”

Officials hope to complete the derelict vessel grant and remove the boats in the next six months.

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