Pledging the money could ease the process of winning legislative approval, according to Mayor Milissa Holland.
Concluding paragraph added Jan. 17
Palm Coast is pledging to put $1.5 million toward the proposed UNF MedNex health care education hub in Palm Coast if the proposal gains legislative approval this year.
The City Council approved a transfer of the money from from the city’s general fund reserve to its non-departmental general fund for that purpose during a council meeting Jan. 7.
"This program elevates job opportunities here in our city ... and will allow us to hopefully keep our students who are educated here in high-paying jobs, and hopefully in our community."
— MILISSA HOLLAND, mayor
The move, Mayor Milissa Holland said in an interview after the meeting, is a placeholder: The council needs to earmark the dollars so that they’ll be available, even if it doesn’t end up spending them. If the MedNex proposal does win legislative approval, the money will come before the council again for a vote. But pledging the money, she said, should make it easier to win lawmakers’ favor.
“We’re getting ready and prepared to meet with the leadership in Tallahassee to enter into conversions on why we feel this is important, not only for the city of Palm Coast ... but really the whole Florida university system,” she said.
The money is coming out of the city’s fund balance reserve, she said, and will not require a tax increase: The fund balance reserve is a separate fund that the city must set aside as part of its auditing recommendations. The balance in that fund, after the city was reimbursed by FEMA for hurricane-related expenses, had grown higher than the recommended amount, she said.
“This program elevates job opportunities here in our city,” she said, “and will allow us to hopefully keep our students who are educated here in high-paying jobs, and hopefully in our community.”
Dennis McDonald, who has run for political office several times in the past, copied the Palm Coast Observer on an email to City Council members, questioning why the fund transfer was not discussed publicly.
The transfer was presented before the City Council for a vote on Jan. 7 and passed unanimously, following the reading of the agenda item. The public and the City Council were given an opportunity to comment; there were no comments.