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Grants continue to be town priority moving into new fiscal year

Longboat Key Town Manager Howard Tipton says grant funding has been running smoothly under the new grants coordinator.

Buttonwood Harbour and Sleepy Lagoon neighborhoods are among those most prone to flooding during high tide.
Buttonwood Harbour and Sleepy Lagoon neighborhoods are among those most prone to flooding during high tide.
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Applying for grants is like baseball, Town Manager Howard Tipton said. 

“Home run” grants are rare, but a series of “singles” can make a huge difference. 

“It's unusual to get a $10 million grant that solves some huge problem,” he said. “But you can get a series of $100,000 grants that kind of move you along. Usually it's a bunch of singles and doubles to kind of win the day.” 

That, he said, is what the town has continued to focus on in relation to the recent grant funding update provided at the Nov. 13 commission planning retreat.

At the retreat, Tipton updated staff and commissioners on some important grants that were recently acquired by the town, or that have been recently applied for. 

One of the latest “home run” grants Tipton mentioned was a $3 million federal Environmental Protection Agency grant for the subaqueous force main project. 

“And that's huge. I mean, that's like double what you would normally get,” Tipton said. 

While the town doesn’t yet have the money in hand, Tipton said Grants Coordinator Kalee Shaberts is working with lobbyists in Washington, D.C., to finalize that. 

Tipton also said that having Shaberts on board has made a “world of a difference.” Having a staff member dedicated to grants has been able to relieve some of the town departments from applying for and reporting grants. 

Another large chunk of grants recently applied for are through the Florida Division of Emergency Management. 

This money, if received, would go towards flood mitigation in low-lying areas of town including the Village, Sleepy Lagoon and Buttonwood neighborhood. 

Of those, there are grants for $2.1 million, $1 million and $2.7 million through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. 

“If we don’t get that money, … we’ll continue to look for grants,” Tipton said. “There’s a lot of resiliency money out there.” 

The Longboat Key Police Department also received a number of grants for fiscal year 2024. 

Many of those grants come from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Justice Assistance Grant Program. 

A $1,000 grant from the program will go toward an updated projector for some of the officer training simulations. Another grant for $11,492 will upgrade the department’s rapid ID scanners. 

The department also applied for a $20,256 grant to replace soft body armor. The armor expires every couple of years, Chief of Police George Turner said. When the armor expires or the department gets new officers, the body armor is purchased then reimbursed through grants like this. 

The West Coast Inland Navigation District awarded the police department $108,579 in fiscal year 2023, with the same amount pending for fiscal year 2024. This, Turner said, is used for the department’s marine patrol unit. 



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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