Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa council to vote on water rates, audit in two weeks

TAMPA — After a testy hour-long debate Thursday, the City Council is considering an independent audit of the water department and a billing change to charge users less if the department cannot explain a high bill.

The meeting also offered hints that the highest rates for Tampa's water may drop.

Council member Joseph Caetano said the mayor told him she wants to abolish the two highest rates, and public works administrator Steve Daignault recommended they be suspended.

City Attorney Chip Fletcher offered a resolution to suspend the highest rates, which charge certain users as high as $20.47 per 748 gallons once they pass a threshold, but the council declined to vote on the measure.

Council members were divided on approving an independent audit of the department.

Mary Mulhern and Yvonne Yolie Capin expressed doubt over its cost and necessity after Mayor Pam Iorio announced a task force Tuesday to look into the issue after the city got nearly 500 customer complaints in a month.

Chairman Thomas Scott, who introduced the idea, argued an out-of-house investigation was essential "to lend credibility to the city government." Council member Curtis Stokes agreed.

The council requested a quote for an audit by Feb. 17.

Caetano introduced a motion requiring the water department to charge users the average of their previous three bills if it cannot explain a contested bill. The council initially approved the measure, but later decided to delay a vote until Feb. 17, when they should know if it would affect the city's bond rating.

At the meeting, Daignault and Tampa water director Brad Baird said after inspecting 124 customer complaints, they maintain their stance: The high bills are due to a variety of factors, including homeowners' leaks, over watering, the tiered billing system and, in some instances, errors by the water department.

"As we have said repeatedly, there are multiple issues as we go out and there investigate each individual's property," Daignault said. "There is not one cause that has affected everyone. They are all totally different."

But some members were not satisfied. Mulhern disagreed that inspecting every complaint was an effective solution, and requested complete data on high bills to identify any patterns.

"This is not my job, and this is not any of our jobs to fix this," Mulhern told Daignault and Baird. "You need to quit blaming the customer and you need to figure out what is going wrong in your department."

Jack Nicas can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or jnicas@sptimes.com.

Tampa council to vote on water rates, audit in two weeks 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 6:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.