Community Project Funding Requests
Effective 2021, Members of Congress are permitted to submit Community Project funding requests which meet the needs of the communities they serve to the House Appropriations Committee. In the interest of full and complete transparency, Members are required to post information about the projects they submit on their official websites. Congressman Bilirakis received dozens of high-quality proposals from local governments, municipalities, and non-profits. While many of these proposals addressed significant need within the community, the Congressman could only select 10 projects. The selected projects for 2021 are listed below.
Proposed Recipient: City of Dade City
Address of Recipient: 38020 Meridian Ave, Dade City, FL 33525
Amount of Request: $1.75 million
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: This project involves the design and permitting of the city’s wastewater treatment plant relocation and upgrade. The existing wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) is located within the Historic Mickens-Harper neighborhood. The neighborhood is a historic Black community originally created in 1948 during segregation. In the 1950s, the City constructed a WWTP in the Mickens-Harper neighborhood. Understanding this is an issue of environmental justice, the City Commission made a commitment in 2012 to relocate the WWTP when its capacity needs to be expanded. Over the years, there has been tremendous community involvement and support for the relocation of the WWTP. On February 28, 2012, the City Commission adopted Ordinance 2012-01 stating the Commission’s commitment. At the February 9, 2021 City Commission meeting, the Commission reaffirmed their desire to right a wrong and relocate the WWTP. Along with environmental justice, this project will provide significant environmental benefits. The WWTP is adjacent to the Green Swamp, where the Withlacoochee River meets the Hillsborough River Watersheds and will provide significant environmental benefit. The WWTP will reduce nutrients in surface water that contribute to algae blooms and degradation of the ecosystem of the watersheds. Excess nutrients are a major contributor to water quality issues in Florida. The project will provide economic benefits and create 150 direct and indirect jobs through construction. Expanded capacity will allow for planned economic growth in the City allowing for additional indirect job growth. The economic impact, environmental benefits, and social justice equity of the proposed project uniquely qualify it as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: City of Zephyrhills
Address of Recipient: 5335 8th Street Zephyrhills, FL 33542
Amount of Request: $1.5 million
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: The City of Zephyrhills is requesting matching funds to assist with wastewater system improvement that will allow the city to balance wastewater flow, provide water quality protection and support water supply needs in the Hillsborough River Basin. The existing wastewater infrastructure is at capacity and cannot accommodate additional flow from the northside of the town to the city’s advanced wastewater treatment (AWT) facilities on the southside of the town. The proposed improvements include a force main and associated lift stations that will allow the city to take approximately 300 residents off of either septic systems or aging package plant facilities and sent this wastewater flow and send this wastewater flow to the city’s AWT plant. The environmental improvements and public safety enhancements that will accompany this project uniquely qualify it is an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: City of Oldsmar
Address of Recipient: 100 State St W, Oldsmar, FL 34677
Amount of Request: $1.6 million
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: The State Street Drainage Ditch project will enclose the ditch with a box cover to mitigate the unsafe conditions resulting from the undermining of driveways, streets, and sidewalks on a public street. Geo-netting has failed to improve ditch bank erosion in an essential downtown thoroughfare in an emerging redevelopment area. Systemic water flow is impeded by the ditch failing to discharge water properly during storm events. The ditch passes beneath residential driveways and there are several utility services spanning the ditch and attendant rights of way. At locations along the ditch, the water flows too swiftly, dislodging vegetation and eroding the banks. Driveway culverts are inconsistent in size and constrict flow resulting in erosion around and underneath structures. A concrete culvert, as opposed to the existing earthen ditch will eliminate erosion issues, improve motorist/bicyclist/pedestrian safety, prevent bottlenecking and variations in flow velocities. More effective water flow management and reduced maintenance are tertiary benefits of this project. The environmental and public safety benefits of this project uniquely qualify it as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: Pasco County Board of County Commissioners
Address of Recipient: 37918 Meridian Avenue, Dade City, FL 33525
Amount of Request: $1 million
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: Rural Northeast Pasco Community Park Site Acquisition- Pasco County’s Parks Master Plan targets the following levels of service: 1 community park per 20,000 people, 1 district park per 50,000 people, and 1 wilderness park per 100,000 people. Elsewhere in the county, impact fees pay for buying and developing parks. In rural northeast Pasco County, lands are not being developed and not generating impact fees. Although the area calls for a community park, the county does not have an income source to buy park property there. As such, the county fall short of meeting its Level of Service goals. The County also does not own any land in the rural, northeast county where the Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Department could add a community park. The proposed federal funding would allow Pasco County to plan, identify, and buy the new community park site, including appraisals, boundary surveys, closing costs, insurance, etc. Due to the geographic inequity that exists, this project is uniquely qualified as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners
Address of Recipient: 315 Court St # 501, Clearwater, FL 33756
Amount of Request: $1.75 million
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: This project involves the purchase of a countywide Pinellas County consolidated Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System which will allow a singular platform for all emergency response agencies for everything from call taking, closes unite deployment countywide, records management, evidence management, situation awareness and planning. If funded, the project will significantly improve public safety and increase interagency efficiency throughout the county. The public safety and intergovernmental agency efficiencies that will be achieved through this project uniquely qualify it as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners
Address of Recipient: 315 Court St # 501, Clearwater, FL 33756
Amount of Request $240,000
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: The Pinellas County Tidal Check Valves project involves purchasing and installing 15-25 tidal check valves to prevent saltwater intrusion into stormwater drains. Sea level rise is currently impacting the performance of coastal stormwater outfalls and is expected to worsen over time. During high tides, saltwater backs up into the stormwater system and results in street flooding, even when there is no rain. Almost 2,000 stormwater outfalls across Pinellas County discharge at or below sea level and that number is anticipated to reach 2300 within 20 years. The check valves will improve public safety and extend the life of stormwater and roadway systems. The improved public safety, environmental and economic impact achieved through this project uniquely qualify it as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc.
Address of Recipient: 707 Druid Rd, Clearwater, FL 33756
Amount of Request: $2 million
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: The Mental Health Collaborative Project between Premier Community Health Center and Community Health Centers of Pinellas County (both of which are federally-qualified community health centers) will help to address unmet mental health needs in Pasco and Pinellas counties. The demand for mental health services has spiked throughout the pandemic. Both Pasco and Pinellas have seen a dramatic rise in suicide rates over the past decade. The pandemic has exacerbated the crisis. This project would enable these two Federally Qualified Community Health Centers to increase the number of insured, uninsured and underinsured patients in Pasco and Pinellas counties who are able to access quality mental health treatment. The improved public health benefit which will be achieved through this project uniquely qualify it as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: AmSkills
Address of Recipient: 4606 Darlington Rd., Holiday, Florida, 34690
Amount of Request $950,000
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: The project would fund the renovation of the AmSkills Workforce Training Innovation Center that will become an attraction and 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. AmSkills Mission is to Transform Lives and Strengthen Communities through Workforce Training and Apprenticeships, focusing on Manufacturing and the Construction industry. AmSkills is an Industry led program, working with more than 30 manufacturing and other employers to provide direct, hand-on training, required by industry, and is an FDOE registered Apprenticeship and Pre-apprenticeship program. The facility will be designed to conduct a variety of programs to attract youth, adults, Veterans, unemployed, and underemployed individuals, from throughout the Tampa Bay region and support the much needed Workforce entry pipeline of skilled workers to help Manufacturing and related industry trades and help residents in these areas enter into and remain in career employment. The economic impact this project will have on the region uniquely qualifies it as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking
Address of Recipient: 11 DuPont Circle NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20036
Amount of Request: $750,000
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: Human Trafficking is a significant problem throughout the Tampa Bay area. 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. The societal benefit and the individual empowerment of individual human trafficking survivors uniquely qualifies this project as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funding.
Proposed Recipient: The Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender’s Office
Address of Recipient: 7530 Little Rd, New Port Richey, FL 34654
Amount of Request: $200,000
Project Description and Statement of Public Benefit: The project is titled INTERCEPT UNIT of the Public Defender’s Office. It would be funded by through the Department of Justice’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) Program. The project is titled “INTERCEPT UNIT” based upon the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) developed in the early 2000’s. As stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “the SIM helps communities identify resources and gaps in services at each intercept and develop local strategic action plans. The SIM mapping process brings together leaders and different agencies and systems to work together to identify strategies to divert people with mental and substance use disorders away from the justice system into treatment.” The INTERCEPT UNIT will take on the task of delivering food, personal hygiene items and other necessities to our homeless population, Veterans, and our local children faced with food insecurity. We 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. To support the project, the UNIT is in need of an employee dedicated to identifying the needs and delivering goods to this population. The Public Defender’s Office is often the primary navigator of behavioral health, medical services, and assistance with supporting independence for those transiting from incarceration and overcoming homelessness in Pinellas and Pasco counties. Providing basic individual needs and fostering self-reliance has proven to reduce recidivism and create a safer community. We work with multiple agencies to accomplish these goals but due to the reduction in community behavioral health funding and services, we are asking for your assistance in supporting some of our current initiatives that have demonstrated success in our community. The economic impact of reduced recidivism throughout the community uniquely qualifies this project as an appropriate and good use of taxpayer funds.
For more information about the Community Project Funding program, please view this Appropriations Committee document.
Surface Transportation Infrastructure Projects
In addition to the Community Project Funding Requests, each Member of Congress is permitted to submit funding proposals for Surface Transportation Infrastructure Projects (STIP). The list of STIP projects submitted by Congressman Bilirakis for 2021 is provided below.
- Ridge Road Extension Phase IIB- The physical address of the project is Ridge Road, Land O’ Lakes, FL 34638 in Pasco County. The project will extend the existing Ridge Road from Sunlake Blvd. in Land O’Lakes to U.S. Hwy 41 (also commonly referred to as Land O’ Lakes Blvd.). This new road construction will help provide much needed Eastbound emergency evacuation routes for Northern Pinellas and West Pasco residents. Additionally, it will help to alleviate significant traffic congestion. Congressman Bilirakis has deemed this project to be a high priority and has requested $15 million dollars to help fund the project. If funded by the Appropriations’ Committee, the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners would be the recipient of the funding.
- The Dunedin Causeway Bridge is in need of reconstruction. The location of the project is: Dunedin Causeway Boulevard, from Royal Stewart Arms Parkway on Honeymoon Island to the intersection of Gary Place/Gary Circle on Ward Island in Dunedin, FL 34698. Pinellas County, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), has conducted a Project Development and Environment PD&E Study on the Dunedin Causeway Bridges. The study extends along Dunedin Causeway Boulevard from Royal Stewart Arms Parkway on Honeymoon Island to the intersection of Gary Place/Gary Circle on Ward Island; the length of the project is about two miles. The existing Main (bascule) Bridge connects Ward Island to Dunedin Causeway. The existing Tide Relief Bridge is a fixed bridge which connects Dunedin Causeway to Honeymoon Island State Park. The Dunedin Causeway Bridges project consists of the replacement of the Main Bridge with a new, two-lane mid-level movable bridge and replacement of the Tide Relief Bridge with a new, two-lane low-level fixed bridge. There are no improvements planned for the Dunedin Causeway beaches or recreation areas. Minor roadway improvements will be needed to transition the existing roadway to the roadway on the replacement bridges. The existing Dunedin Causeway bridges provides the only access that connects the City of Dunedin to Honeymoon Island State Park. Both bridges were constructed in 1963 and are considered "functionally obsolete" because of their narrow width. According to a 2015 FDOT Bridge Inspection Report, the main bascule bridge contains fractured critical components and is considered scour critical. It has a sufficiency rating of 48.6 out of 100. There are no shoulders on the bridges and sidewalks on the north side are only three (3) and one-half feet wide. The multi-use path on the south side of the bridge is only six (6) feet wide. Both the main and tide relief bridges do not meet current engineering standards for resisting damage from high waves during significant storms and vessel impact. Ongoing maintenance and repair of the main (bascule) bridge machinery also affects reliability and results in traffic delays. Major rehabilitation or replacement of both bridges is needed to keep the bridges open and the main (bascule) bridge operating efficiently. Located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Pinellas County is home to nearly one million residents, with an additional 15.5 million visitors each year, including seasonal residents and tourists. The County values the significance the City of Dunedin and Honeymoon Island State Park brings to the community, both economically and as a favorite destination for citizens and visitors to enjoy natural Florida. Honeymoon Island State Park is enriched with serene beaches, bountiful wildlife and natural vegetation and is also the ferry terminal for access to another unspoiled state park, Caladesi Island. Honeymoon Island has a direct annual economic impact of $150 million to the county. The Dunedin Causeway located along the existing bridges is a popular area for citizens and visitors to enjoy recreational activities such as walking, jogging, and biking on the designated trail and swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing in the Intracoastal Waterway. The new bridge design will better accommodate these outdoor activities residents and visitors partake in when visiting the Causeway, with wider and safer bicycle lanes, sidewalk, and trail. The Dunedin Causeway Bridges project directly aligns with Pinellas County's Strategic Plan goal to Foster Continual Economic Growth and Vitality by investing in infrastructure to meet current and future needs, and in doing so, providing safe and efficient transportation systems to support the efficient flow of motorists, commerce and regional connectivity. The Congressman has deemed this project to be a significant community priority and he has requested $5 million in federal funding this year. If funded, the recipient would be the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.