BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday moved forward with plans for the new headquarters and manufacturing plant for Accuform Signs at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center.
The commission accepted a $1.5 million Community Development Block Grant that will be used to build the roads, water and other infrastructure needed to serve the 300,000-square-foot facility. The county airport has committed nearly $860,000 to the project.
Commissioners also approved the ground lease for the expansion. That lease is expected to produce approximately $50,000 in funds for the airport in the first year. After the second year, the payments escalate.
Already the largest employer in the county's airport industrial park complex, with roughly 280 workers, Accuform has said it will add another 271 workers by 2016. Eventually, the facility could employ 600. The 44-acre site is at Corporate Boulevard and Aerial Way.
The family-owned company manufactures safety signs, badges and related projects.
Airport manager Kevin Daugherty said not only is the expansion a huge boon for the county as a whole; building the infrastructure opens up the southern portion of the airport property to future development.
The county will seek bids on the infrastructure later this year, and the first steps of the project will involve relocating gopher tortoises, said Cliff Manuel, president of Coastal Engineering Associates.
Construction will begin next year and should be completed by the end of 2013, Manuel said.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved the design contract for a speculative aviation hangar and services facility that airport officials are planning to build at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. The building will be designed and built by Peter Brown Construction of Clearwater. The design portion will cost $163,853.00.
• Approved the building lease and licensing agreement that will bring the Southeast Area Family Motor Coach Association rally back to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport early next year. Last year, association leaders explored moving the event to Florida's east coast, but eventually supporters of the Brooksville rally won out. The recreational vehicles will be charged $3 each — up to a total of $2,100 — and the group will continue to lease a building at the site. The lease will bring the airport $12,000 annually.
• Passed a new ordinance that will prohibit the manufacture or sale in Hernando of synthetic drugs such as bath salts and spice. The ordinance, which was needed to fill a gap in the prohibitions in state law, was requested by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and supported by local organizations that advocate for youth and work to fight drug abuse.
• Approved two separate agreements that apply to Brooksville Regional and Spring Hill Regional hospitals. The first gives the county an extra $3 million from the hospitals for a lease connected with the old Brooksville hospital building. The second calls for the county to pay that $3 million to the state Agency for Health Care Administration, allowing the hospitals to charge a higher Medicaid fee. The extra income makes up for Medicaid cuts and the cost of running the neonatal intensive care and labor and delivery services at Spring Hill Regional, the hospitals' chief executive officer, Patrick Maloney, told the commission.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay .com or (352) 848-1434.