Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough moves toward buying private East Lake water utility

TAMPA — Residents of the East Lake community who say they suffer from dirty tap water and high costs for the most fundamental of services from a private utility may someday get relief.

Hillsborough County commissioners took a vote Wednesday that essentially puts the county in a position to buy the Pluris Eastlake utility franchise and replace the pipes and treatment system that serve nearly 1,000 homes in the community east of Tampa. The unanimous vote was greeted by cheers from audience members who waved signs, such as one that read: "All we want for Christmas is Pluris gone."

Commissioners warned the crowded chambers that any deal will not be done by Christmas and could take years.

Their vote technically was to not approve a franchise utility agreement extension with Pluris, which has said it has been working to address concerns about dirty or alternately overly treated tap water flowing from spigots.

It blames high bills on a 25 percent surcharge that the city of Tampa tacks on to sewage bills to dispose of East Lake's waste water.

County staff had recommended that commissioners approve the franchise extension, saying the costs to buy the system could be great and cost existing county customers more on their bills.

For years, before county governments began offering municipal-style government services, private developers often built and maintained water and sewer systems for residential subdivisions. Many of those systems are now aging, with the developers long gone and private service providers running the utilities.

The county has spent millions of dollars in recent decades buying and updating those systems. Seven private systems remain in Hillsborough County, and East Lake's is one of them. The county had previously contemplated buying the franchise years ago.

Experts hired by the county to analyze the potential purchase said the county has adequate financial reserves and borrowing capacity to absorb the purchase with little to no cost to other customers, though commissioners openly accepted that the price could be high.

"Yes, this route will probably cost more," said Commissioner Ken Hagan. "But that's the price for delaying this purchase for this long."

Hillsborough moves toward buying private East Lake water utility 12/04/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location

    Business

    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International Airport.

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  2. What you might have missed in the second episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    We're back for another episode of The Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find behind-the-scenes insights and things you might have missed in Tuesday's second episode of "Hard Knocks," following the Bucs in …

    As the crowd recognized him and got loud, Jameis Winston jumped up and down in celebration. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
  3. Review: 'The Defenders' brings out the best in Marvel's unlikeliest heroes

    Blogs

    The ties that bind Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist run deep. But they're just starting to figure all that out in The Defenders.

    Mike Colter, Scott Glenn, Finn Jones, Krysten Ritter and Charlie Cox in The Defenders.
  4. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson can't keep 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' on-target

    Movies

    The Hitman's Bodyguard is an assault tank on semi-automatic pilot, spraying jokes and bullets with only the ammo consistently hitting its targets. The irresistible teaming of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson might be even funnier if they missed once in a while.

    Samuel L. Jackson, left, and Ryan Reynolds star in "The Hitman's Bodyguard." (Lionsgate)
  5. Hillsborough leaders ask for patience as multiple schools still suffer from broken air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins and his facilities chief appealed to parents Wednesday to be patient as the district works through chronic air conditioning problems — and to advocate for more state funding.

    Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins says air conditioning problems at multiple schools are a "major concern" for the district. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |  Times]