Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kriseman, City Council compromise on sewers, BP money

ST. PETERSBURG — A two-month face-off over a $6.5 million windfall appears to have ended for now as the City Council agreed to parts of Mayor Rick Kriseman's wish list on Thursday.

The council agreed to earmark $600,000 to a pilot ferry project linking St. Petersburg and Tampa's downtowns and a new research vessel to replace an aging ship operated by the Florida Institute of Oceanography.

In exchange, city staff delayed a multimillion-dollar fueling station to free up $3 million to expedite repairs on sewers.

Since Kriseman unveiled a long list of projects in October that were to be financed by a settlement with BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, council members have balked at paying for things like a bike share program, arts endowment or climate change planning.

Most council members wanted to spend more money on the city's antiquated sewer system, which was swamped during heavy rains this summer. The city was forced to dump more than 31 million gallons of raw or untreated sewage into Boca Ciega and Tampa bays.

Council members on Thursday, however, agreed to set aside BP money for the ferry and research vessel as long as other local and state entities stepped up with their own contributions.

City Administrator Gary Cornwell said the city wanted its $350,000 share to start a ferry service from October through April using one or two vessels, depending on how much money can be cobbled together.

"I can't go to other member governments and ask for a commitment from them if we can't make it ourselves," Kriseman said.

Cornwell said $1 million should be enough to bring one ferry from a northern city, where traffic slows in the winter months, while $1.5 million should be enough for two.

"It might not work," Kriseman said. "Sometimes you have to try to see if something works."

Another $250,000 was set aside to help build a new marine science research vessel to replace the 71-foot R/V Bellows, which spends about 150 days a year at sea.

William Hogarth, who heads up the institute, said he is working with other universities to raise money and hopes state money will be available, too.

In June, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a $6 million appropriation by state lawmakers to build a state-of-the-art 78-foot ship because he said the state university system had enough cash to build it.

Council member Darden Rice said the money would be well spent.

"If there is any project to use BP funds, I think this would be the one," she said.

As council compromised, so did Kriseman. The administration agreed to delay construction of a natural-gas fueling station for city vehicles and put that money to work fixing sewers. City officials said contractors are only able to do about $3 million of work in a year.

"This is where I say, 'Thank you,' " said council member Karl Nurse, who had led the fight to dedicate BP money for sewer repair. "It's not everything we need, but it's a significant upgrade."

Contact Charlie Frago at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago.

Kriseman, City Council compromise on sewers, BP money 12/03/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2015 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Maria: Clearwater Coast Guard plane aids rescue near Puerto Rico

    Military

    Eight minutes. That's how long it took the Petty Officer 3rd Class Darryn Manley of the Coast Guard said it took him to spot the boat that capsized off a Puerto Rican island on Thursday.

  2. Mom of girl who died looking for candy seeks to keep husband away

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eight days after her 4-year-old daughter died in the care of paternal grandparents, pregnant Lizette Hernandez sat in a Hillsborough County courthouse Friday, attempting to seek full-time custody of her 19-month-old son.

    Lizette Hernandez, 22, completes paperwork Friday for a motion for protection from domestic violence against her husband, Shane Zoller. Their daughter, Yanelly, 4, died in a reported gun accident at the home of Zoller's parents Sept. 14. She alleges that her husband hit her and caused her to fall on a grave marker at their daughter's funeral Thursday in a tussle over their remaining 1-year-old son. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  3. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  4. Ed Sheeran coming to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Let it never be said Ed Sheeran hasn't given the people of Tampa what they want.

  5. Editorial: Once more, homeowners are let down by state housing agency

    Editorials

    Once upon a time, the federal government created a program called the Hardest Hit Fund. Its goal was admirable, and its mission important. The fund was designed to aid Americans in danger of losing their houses after the Great Recession had wreaked havoc on the economy. Unfortunately, the folks in Washington erred in …

    The Hardest Hit Fund was designed to aid Americans in danger of losing their houses after the Great Recession. Unfortunately, the folks in Washington trusted Florida to get that money into the hands of people who needed it most.