Friday, January 19, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg City Council wants more cops and raises for workers

ST. PETERSBURG — Two of the City Council's biggest priorities for next year's budget include hiring more cops and giving pay raises to city workers.

The suggestions came Thursday during the first budget meeting for fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct 1. Staffers solicited ideas from the council in advance of a budget summit slated for April 24.

Currently, the Police Department has 545 officers. With benefits and salaries, the city spends about $100,000 a year for each patrol officer.

"I think we need to have a discussion on the record to see if 545 officers is enough," council member Charlie Gerdes said.

Council member Bill Dudley agreed, saying: "Public safety is the linchpin to everything else."

The idea for more officers, Gerdes said, came after police Chief Chuck Harmon recently briefed the council on downtown security.

Downtown's bustling nightlife, coupled with the 3 a.m. bar closings, result in 300 hours of overtime each month, Harmon said.

Council chair Karl Nurse said he wants Harmon to tell the council what his priorities would be if an extra $500,000 to $1 million was added to his agency's $91 million budget. Harmon doesn't yet have an answer.

In the coming months, he and top aides plans to analyze how the department deploys officers, including studying whether to add a fourth policing district to cover downtown.

Another option, Harmon said, is to shift some detectives back to patrol cars since crime rates have dropped. "We're going to look at everything," he said.

The chief scheduled the deployment analysis before the council made the suggestions Thursday.

Harmon said it will take several months to determine the best ways to redeploy personnel. His biggest goal is to decrease overtime.

"I'd always love to have more" officers, Harmon said. "But it wouldn't cure all our ills."

More money would cure ills for many city employees.

Most workers haven't received raises in four years since the financial crisis decimated the city's budget. Council members fear the best workers will leave if the pay drought continues.

"It's very unlikely that I'd vote for a budget that doesn't include raises for employees," council member Steve Kornell said.

Comments
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

"The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Office of the Inspector General has opened an investigation into how CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay report the job placements," DEO spokeswoman Tiffany Vause said in a statement Frida...
Updated: 21 minutes ago

Florida National Guard soldier killed, five injured in Sebring crash

SEBRING — A soldier with the Florida National Guard was killed and five others were hospitalized after a multi-vehicle crash on Friday, officials said.The crash took place at about 1 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Hammock Road.The soldiers ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two New Port Richey men face charges after Pasco County deputies say they stole about $11,000 worth of cellphones and cellphone equipment at a Metro PCS store on State Road 54.Robert Jackson and Ronald Hartshorn were arrested Wednes...
Updated: 1 hour ago
U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soul food restaurant as part of scheme to steals thousands

U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soul food restaurant as part of scheme to steals thousands

TAMPA — The owner of a soul and seafood restaurant is facing more than 10 years in federal prison for filing dozens of false tax returns and stealing thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Natalie Rene Panko, 57, owner of Ladie...
Updated: 1 hour ago
That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

TAMPA — If you hear loud noises coming from MacDill Air Force Base over the next few days, don’t be alarmed.It’s the sound of flying hogs.A squadron of A-10C Warthogs, beloved by troops in the field for their ability to swoop low and slow and tear ap...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in November, he had amphetamines, morphine and the sleep aid zolpidem in his system, according to an autopsy report.Halladay, 40, died from blunt force trauma with drowning ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Family: Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose

Family: Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose

LOS ANGELES — Rocker Tom Petty died last year from "multisystem organ failure" caused by accidental drug toxicity, the Los Angeles County Coroner said Friday.An autopsy found that Petty had several drugs in his system including fentanyl, oxycodone, t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Updated: 3 hours ago