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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Central Florida business leaders talk SunRail with Gov. Scott



Six business leaders from Central Florida met with Gov. Rick Scott on Friday to talk to him about SunRail. Scott has had the contracts for the commuter rail line around Orlando on hold since early this year. 

"It wasn't controversial," said Kelly Cohen, a board member of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission of the meeting with Scott. "It was just trying to figure out how to make SunRail happen."

She said it was the first time commission members had spoken directly to the governor about the issue. Cohen and her colleagues left the Capitol around lunch time, with some wearing bright yellow SunRail buttons and one executive wearing a red-white-and-blue Mickey Mouse lapel pin.

Scott has said he doesn't want to move forward with the project approved by the Florida legislature until he's certain that local governments understand their financial obligation to the 61.5-mile project.

State taxpayers will contribute at least $901 million over seven years to build the line.

Taxpayers in Volusia, Seminole and Orange counties have to pay $526 million over 30 years for construction. Local taxpayers also have to cover half the tab for any construction cost overruns, with the state picking up the other half. The state will pick up any operating shortfalls for the first seven years after the line starts running, but local taxpayers have to pay those shortfalls in years eight through 30 of operation.

Cohen said members of the economic development group are well aware of the local financial obligation. Central Florida business groups have been urging Scott to go forward with the project, saying it will boost the economy of the region.


[Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 3:08pm]


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