Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Fla. gulf coast creates wish lists for when BP fines arrive

No one knows exactly how much money Florida's gulf coast counties will get from penalties BP paid as a result of its 2010 oil spill, or when, but the requests are piling up.

St. Petersburg wants more than $44 million to improve its wastewater collection system. Clearwater wants $55 million to expand its sewer system. And Tampa's wish list includes more than $21 million for energy conservation initiatives.

The demands are coming from the 23 Florida coastal counties in the Gulf Consortium, the group that eventually will decide which projects to fund with the billions of dollars that BP is expected to pay in fines.

That money will come to counties courtesy of the RESTORE Act, which was passed in 2012 and directs most of the penalties to U.S. Gulf Coast projects dealing with environmental and economic restoration.

The idea, said Pinellas Commissioner Susan Latvala, who is vice chairwoman of the consortium, is to fund regional projects that couldn't be accomplished otherwise, not to plug budget holes.

That hasn't stopped some cities and counties from asking for money for small projects.

Bradenton requested $250,000 for a new street sweeper. St. Petersburg wants $900,000 for an "underwater feature" for the new pier it plans to build. Hernando County commissioners requested $350,000 to improve a parking lot. And Clearwater asked for $300,000 to expand a golf course pond.

"That's not going to make the cut," Latvala said. "It looks like some cities just went to their CIP (capital improvement plan) list and didn't put a lot of thought in it."

St. Petersburg submitted 34 proposals, most of which are ecological. The city wants money to repair Lassing Park beach, Bay Vista Park beach and North Shore Park beach. It also wants to expand its reclaimed-water system and improve water quality in the northwest and southwest. Another item on its wish list: $3 million for a marine research facility.

Tampa, which put in 15 proposals, also asked for funding to extend reclaimed-water mains to other parts of Hillsborough County. But one of its requests stands out as particularly odd. The city asked for more than $55 million for public safety initiatives.

Latvala said she plans to focus on improving water quality in Tampa Bay. The bay has become cleaner in recent years, she said, thanks to millions of dollars in investments, but sewage treatment plants continue to dump waste into it.

"We just can't keep spending money to clean up messes rather than fixing the sources of the problem," she said.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

Comments

High school scoreboard for Jan. 17

Wednesday’s scoreboardBoys basketballBoca Ciega 62, Clearwater 52Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 3, Dunedin 0Girls soccerPalm Harbor U. 5, Dunedin 0
Updated: 4 hours ago
‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — The first call came into emergency dispatch at 4 p.m. on Sunday from shore, reporting a ‘giant’ boat on fire in the Pithlachascotee River."It’s urgent," the caller said.Others followed quickly, one woman crying as she described from her...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Shelters offer escape from the cold for those who need it

Shelters offer escape from the cold for those who need it

On warmer nights, Jerry Hardison can sleep for a few hours at the recycling center. He works 11-hour shifts there. He gets off at 2:30 a.m., then waits until the buses start running again.But not Wednesday."Getting out that time of the morning in the...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the United States that will be partially financed by an upcoming windfall f...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Michigan father deported after three decades in community; AIDS crusader Mathlide Kim dies; more in U.S. news

Michigan father deported after three decades in community; AIDS crusader Mathlide Kim dies; more in U.S. news

Michigan This was his home for 30 years, then ICE forced dad from familyWith two immigration agents hovering nearby, Jorge Garcia pulled his wife and their 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son close for a final hug at the Detroit airport. Soon af...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

GIBSONTON — A 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child.Authorities said they received several tip...
Updated: 8 hours ago

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

Cory Byrd said he still has nightmares about the smoke. In them, he is back in the cabin of the Express Shuttle II, scrambling to reach the white rectangle of an open door. The smoke was so thick, he said, you could barely see an outstretched hand. ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

AustraliaWallaby infiltrates Sydney bridgeA wayward wallaby disrupted downtown traffic by bounding across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Tuesday with police in pursuit. The adult male was captured without any apparent serious injury and is expected to b...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

LARGO — For years, county sheriffs in the United States have faced a quandary when asked by federal officials to hold undocumented immigrants in their local jails. They could continue to hold them for up to two days past the time they were legally fr...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa called Wednesday for artists to send in their ideas for a big piece of public art for the outdoor plaza between one of the $3 billion project’s office buildings and the new University of South Florida Morsani College of Med...
Updated: 10 hours ago