Federal officials and the companies are mired in litigation and negotiations to determine the amount of fines for violations of the Clean Water Act. The fine, based on the size of the spill and the extent of each company's negligence, could bring millions to individual Florida counties.
The Florida Association of Counties hopes to organize the eight Florida counties most affected by the spill and 15 counties that had lesser impacts into a consortium that will determine how the money is divided and spent.
The group held a preliminary meeting about the plan on Thursday.
"We have no idea how soon the federal dollars will flow. They could reach a settlement in two weeks or it could take three years," Chris Holley, executive director of the association, told the group.
But Holley said it is crucial for counties to come up with their own formula to distribute the money and their own plans to spend it.
"If the counties don't step up, someone else will take the money," he said.
Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas will share the fine money, with the largest portion of the money going to Louisiana, which had the greatest impact from the spill. Under a proposed distribution system discussed at Thursday's meeting, individual Florida Counties could see anywhere from $2.4 million to $226 million depending on the size of the fine and the extent the county was impacted by the spill.