Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

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."

Comments
The Daystarter: Will Rays Ybor move equal more corporate support?; 50th anniversary of Florida teachers’ strike; Warrior Games coming to SOCom; Mary J. Blige at Amalie Arena

The Daystarter: Will Rays Ybor move equal more corporate support?; 50th anniversary of Florida teachers’ strike; Warrior Games coming to SOCom; Mary J. Blige at Amalie Arena

link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2015/graphics/macros/css/base.css"> Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• For the latest legislative coverage from Tallahassee, keep che...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

TAMPA — Army Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas III, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, had a court-side epiphany last July at the United Center in Chicago while watching the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games.So impressed with what...
Updated: 10 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Have Democrats gained 50 seats formerly held by Republicans since Trump was elected?

PolitiFact Florida: Have Democrats gained 50 seats formerly held by Republicans since Trump was elected?

President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager had a prescient message for Republican voters: Get out and vote, or risk losing more seats to Democrats.Corey Lewandowski traveled to Sarasota on Feb. 11, along with former Trump deputy campaign manage...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Ernest Hooper: Let’s hope post-9/11 generation will stand, engage and act

We’re approaching a new era. Before our eyes, a post-9/11 generation, stunned by mass shootings, roiled by political divides and connected through social media will soon reach the age of majority.They will be able to vote, hold elected officials acco...
Updated: 11 hours ago
50 years ago, Florida teachers walked off their jobs. Today’s union leaders are inspired

50 years ago, Florida teachers walked off their jobs. Today’s union leaders are inspired

Ulysses Floyd remembers February 1968 all too well.Teachers by the thousands walked off their jobs across Florida. Among their concerns: low pay, poor funding, a lack of planning time, missing materials, and more. "We were at the mercy of the School ...
Published: 02/19/18
Next phase for the Tampa Armature Works: co-working office space

Next phase for the Tampa Armature Works: co-working office space

TAMPA — The mixed-use rebirth of the old Tampa Armature Works warehouse is proceeding in stages. First up: last month’s debut of the new ballroom, followed closely by the opening of more than a dozen vendors in the Heights Public Market food hall.YEA...
Published: 02/19/18
On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

TAMPA — Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart says he’s ready to put his checkbook where his heart is when it comes to supporting a Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City.So is the investment fund for the founding family of Ashley Furniture. So, it ap...
Published: 02/19/18
Artistic anarchy reigns in Dali Museum’s Dali/Duchamp exhibition

Artistic anarchy reigns in Dali Museum’s Dali/Duchamp exhibition

ST. PETERSBURGIn Dalí/Duchamp, the world-class exhibition now at St. Petersburg’s Dalí Museum, you’ll meet Salvador Dalí, the publicity hound who claimed his nutty moustache was for receiving signals from outer space. And you’ll meet Marcel Duchamp, ...
Published: 02/19/18
Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

DAYTONA BEACH – No, Bubba Wallace did not win the 60th running of the Daytona 500.But you wouldn't have known that after seeing his emotions after he placed second – the highest finish ever by a black driver in the Great American Race.Wal...
Updated: 7 hours ago
After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

OCALA — In mid-2016, a regional task force that spent almost two years exploring ways to improve safety on a crowded Interstate 75 decided to take a conservative approach: make changes to the highway rather than build or expand other roads. Then Hurr...
Updated: 8 hours ago