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St. Augustine leaders upset about projects being called "turkeys"

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Updated: 5/17/2013 7:59 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. --  A report released by Florida TaxWatch called the "Turkey Watch Report" is getting some backlash from local leaders.

Every year, the government watchdog group puts together the report with budget projects Gov. Rick Scott should consider vetoing.

This year, three restoration projects in the heart of St. Augustine totaling $1.45 million made the list.

"We're fighting for our future in this, this is why this is so passionate," said John Regan, St. Augustine City Manager.

The projects the group consider "budget turkeys" include $750,000 for the Alcazar Hotel, $400,000 for the maintenance of Flagler College's Dining Hall and $300,000 for repairs to the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum.

"All the additional work, it's going to create jobs and make the most special historic place paradise preservation here, aspecial place for the next generation," said Rick Gonzalez, President of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

Gonzalez says the last time city hall's exterior had work done was 40 years ago.

According to Florida TaxWatch, the Flagler College dining hall project was put on the list because it was introduced late in the budget process.

The group says the other two projects were not listed high enough on the priority list.

St. Augustine city leaders say the watchdog group is out of touch.

"I think it's time we bring TaxWatch to St. Augustine to understand the role of historic preservation to drive Florida's economy," said Regan.

Other area projects on the list included $100,000 for the Justice Coalition in Duval County and $300,000 for the restoration of the Clay County Courthouse.
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