St.Pete finds $3 million for sewers, spares BP cash
Some creative accounting has ended a spat over how to spend a one-time windfall of $6.5 million in BP settlement money in St. Petersburg.
City Administrator Gary Cornwell said the city will reshuffle its budgetary priorities, delaying construction of a compressed natural gas fueling facility to speed up sewer repairs to the tune of $3 million.
The council unanimously approved the policy shift at its Thursday meeting.
"This is the time when I say thank you," said council member Karl Nurse. "It's not everything we need, but it's a significant upgrade."
City staff has said that contractors aren't available to complete much more than $3 million of repairs per year. Earlier in the month, a council committee had voted to spend $1.5 million in BP money on sewers, but the council later decided to scuttle that request after the bond money became available.
The natural-gas fuel station is part of the city's bio-solids project at the Southwest wastewater treatment plant. That project has been slowed down as council members, especially Steve Kornell, have questioned if the plant can handle turning sewage into fertilizer and natural gas in addition to processing sewage flowing from downtown since the closure of the Albert Whitted plant on the waterfront.
Fixing the city's aging sewer pipes, many of which are approaching 100-years-old, has become a political flash point since the city was forced to dump more than 31 million gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage into Boca Ciega and Tampa bays.