Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Kriseman makes hip moves; Dave Metz fills in; late bill payers will get counseling

Moves like Jagger?

Residents are learning more and more about their new mayor. On Wednesday afternoon, for example, they learned that he can dance (and not all that badly).

He may have swayed, bopped and even done a quick two-step during his grand "vision unveiling" event at the Mahaffey Theater last week, but it was Mayor Rick Kriseman's last act of the day that stole the show.

Before dismissing the more than 800 employees who'd gathered to hear about his goals for the city, Kriseman turned his back, whipped out his phone and snapped a group selfie.

How long until #sunshinecityselfie becomes a trending topic on Twitter?

His old stomping grounds

In between meeting with residents, getting updates on pressing issues and unveiling his vision to city staffers and the public, Mayor Kriseman fit in a quick trip to the state Capitol last week.

He spent a day and a half in Tallahassee participating in the Florida League of Cities' annual legislative action days.

Kriseman said his administration is tracking an effort to create a business school at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, proposed changes to public records laws, and how the state will divvy up money that supports local housing initiatives. Officials also are keeping an eye on $2 million earmarked for the 20/20 Agenda antipoverty program.

"We have tried to be very clear this is a significant priority for this administration," Kriseman said.

His visit was his first trip back to Tallahassee since taking office in January. The mayor said he plans to travel north at least once more this session.

Musical chairs at City Hall

Although Kriseman brought in a lot of people when he took office, he also lost plenty. The latest to leave, longtime city development administrator Rick Mussett, will be replaced on an interim basis by Dave Metz.

Metz has served as director of downtown enterprise facilities. He also has been in charge of neighborhood services, and worked at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and Pinellas County Economic Development Department.

"Dave Metz has been a big part of this city and this region for more than 30 years, and I trust he will serve as a strong, stable leader in a critically important department," Kriseman said in a statement.

Ben Kirby, the mayor's communications director, said the mayor will conduct a search to replace Mussett.

Help for chronic late payers

The city has kicked off a pilot program that will link people who have trouble paying their utility bills on time with financial counseling.

On April 1, officials in the billing department began reaching out to 100 randomly selected residents, asking them to participate in the program, funded by a $20,000 grant from the National League of Cities.

Participants will go through a course of credit counseling in exchange for a $50 credit on their bills and a payment plan if needed. The program will run through January.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @cornandpotatoes on Twitter.

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