Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg gets grant to help those who pay utility bills late

ST. PETERSBURG — The city is embarking on a program to help residents who consistently have trouble paying their utility bills.

At the same time, officials also are exploring whether to allow residents the option of paying utility bills directly from their bank accounts as a way to avoid extra fees associated with credit and debit card processing.

Council members were concerned about the $2 credit card processing fee residents are charged for paying their bills online. In recent meetings, council member Darden Rice said she wondered if the fee discouraged people from using the more environmental-friendly paperless system.

On Thursday, council members agreed to talk about the fee in depth at an upcoming workshop.

Officials also agreed to accept a $20,000 grant from the National League of Cities, which picked a handful of governments to participate in the LIFT-UP (Local Interventions for Financial Empowerment through Utility Payments) initiative. The others cities are Houston, Newark and Savannah.

For the next two years, the four cities will identify residents who have chronic problems paying their utility bills and seek to connect them with services to help them become financially secure.

Council member Karl Nurse said the goal is to "help people get a step away from the edge so that they don't fall into the same cycle over and over again."

In addition to teaching people financial literacy, the program will likely include restructured debt payment options. Each year, the city spends lots of money going after late payers, Nurse said.

"Hopefully coming out of this we can find a model that helps people," he said.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at, (727) 893-8643 or @cornandpotatoes on Twitter.

St. Petersburg gets grant to help those who pay utility bills late 02/07/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 7, 2014 1:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights


    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises


    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]