St. Pete committee reserves bulk of remaining BP money for climate study
The city has about $1.4 million left from its $6.5 million settlement with BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
On Thursday, a City Council committee voted to earmark $1 million of that dwindling pile of cash to prepare the city for rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change.
Council member Darden Rice, who has led the effort with Mayor Rick Kriseman to study how the city can best adapt to climate change, said the city needed to get started.
"We're about five or six years behind South Florida on this," Rice said. Part of the reason is that, unlike Miami Beach, St. Petersburg hasn't had the tidal flooding or other obvious signs that signal a need to change, she said.
Council member Ed Montanari questioned the efficienty of the city spending so much on a plan if there wasn't a regional effort to coordinate a response to environmental changes.
"We could have the best macdaddy plan in the world and if our partners in the region don't do anything. I just kind of wonder, we're spending a lot of money and what kind of impact are we having," Montanari said. "We do need some regional leadership."
"I think St. Pete is the regional leader on this issue," Rice replied.
The Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee then voted to reserve the money from BP funds. Montanari didn't participate in the voice vote. Their recommendation advances to the full council.
The city has spent or allocated BP money for a multitude of projects, including a ferry service between the city and Tampa, a new marine research vessel for the Florida Institute of Oceanography, a bike share program, a commercial seagrass project.
After Tropical Storm Colin's rain overwhelmed the city's sewer system in June, forcing the city to dump nearly 10 million gallons of partially treated sewage, into Tampa Bay, Kriseman dropped his opposition to spending substantial BP money on fixiing the sewers.
The council voted to spend $3 million on sewer repairs.