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Cape did not apply for BP funds

By Staff | Jul 17, 2015

Considering what Lee County and the Lee County Public Schools received in the settlement of the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some might think the city of Cape Coral would have gone after its share of the pie.

The city, though, did not file any claim for a share of the settlement.

Officials are not sure why.

City spokesperson Connie Barron said the city is looking into the matter to see what happened.

“There might have been reason as to why we didn’t apply. I just don’t know the answer to it yet,” Barron said. “I didn’t know about it until two days ago when the media started calling.”

Barron said the city attorney’s office is putting together information but won’t have all the framework of what occurred until Monday, which will be released either during the city council’s regular meeting or before.

Members of city council don’t seem to remember the specifics, either.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick said she thought the city had already received money, but wasn’t sure. Lenny Nesta also had no recollection, of the issue being brought forward to council.

Officials say events happened during the John Sullivan administration.

Sullivan was not immediatley available for comment.

Richard Leon, who wasn’t on council during the matter, found the dollar amounts recevied by other entities absurd, especially since Southwest Florida was not directly damaged by the spill.

He cited money given to the school system.

“Was the school board affected to the tune of $2.5 million? It affected the ad valorem, but did rates drops? I didn’t see that,” Leon said. “How do they get that kind of money? That’s ridiculous. They aren’t affected by tourism dollars.”

On Wednesday, the Lee County school board voted unanimously to approve a $2.5 million settlement from BP, part of an $18.5 billion multistate settlement by the oil giant.

Meanwhile, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners also voted unanimously for a $5.2 million settlement. Sanibel will receive $460,000. The decisions had to be made by the end of business Wednesday.

The money from BP settles claims over damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 in which more than 200 million gallons of oil was spilled.

While nothing has been known to have reached Southwest Florida shores, the event, nonetheless, caused “economic injury” to the area, since people believed remnants of the spill had impacted the area.