Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs commissioner questions $95 shipping fee ahead of 'free' China trip

TARPON SPRINGS — Before Mayor Beverley Billiris and City Commissioner Robin Saenger embarked on an economic and cultural mission to China earlier this month, the mayor made one thing clear:

"It's a phenomenal opportunity for us to showcase our city at no expense to our government," Billiris told fellow commissioners. "Not a penny of this is coming out of the city of Tarpon Springs' budget."

But it turns out that wasn't exactly the case.

On July 8, Billiris and Saenger traveled to Tunxi, an old town located in the Yellow Mountains of Anhui Province, for a conference at which they were promoting Tarpon Springs and Pinellas County. The trip was paid for by Tunxi officials. Billiris and Saenger spent about two weeks in China.

But on July 1, they had a package of promotional material sent ahead. It weighed 14 pounds and cost the city $95.25 to ship.

The materials included brochures about Tarpon Springs, Brooker Creek Preserve, St. Petersburg College and other sites of local interest.

"She (Billiris) said absolutely no city money, so actually that statement wasn't true," Commissioner Peter Dalacos said.

"For her to go as far as to say that not a penny of city money was spent … she had to know about it, so it wasn't a true statement."

Back from the trip, Billiris is astonished that such a small amount would be questioned. She said she ships promotional materials to other areas all the time and she would have made the shipment regardless of whether she went to China or not.

"I think it's absurd," Billiris said.

"We are promoting Pinellas County and Tarpon Springs and somebody is actually complaining about $95? I think it's an absurdity that it's being questioned."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at (727) 445-4174.

Tarpon Springs commissioner questions $95 shipping fee ahead of 'free' China trip 07/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 20, 2009 8:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren joins other prosecutors in protesting Jeff Sessions' 'tough-on-crime' policy


    TAMPA — Andrew Warren, the state attorney for Hillsborough County, is among signers of a letter from 31 district prosecutors nationwide voicing opposition to the tough-on-crime policies of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    Hillsborough State Atttorney Andrew Warren is among the signers of a letter from 31 top prosecutors nationwide opposing Attorney General Jeff Sessions' 'tough-on-crime' policies. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times
  2. Suspect tells police he killed roommates for disrespecting his Muslim faith


    TAMPA — A man accused of shooting his roommates in a New Tampa apartment told police he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with the two men until he converted to Islam then killed them because they disrespected his faith.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, of Tampa told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam and shot them because they disrespected his faith.
[Photo courtesy of Tampa Police]
  3. Nelson, Rubio want Trump to back off cuts to drug office


    Citing an opioid crisis “devastating Florida,” Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are asking the Trump administration to back off plans to gut the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    A letter to the Office of Management and Budget
  4. US President Donald Trump, left,  meets with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Monday, in Jerusalem. Trump opened his first visit to Israel Monday, a two-day stop aimed at testing the waters for jumpstarting the dormant Middle East peace process. [AP photo]
  5. Study: Florida most friendly state for retired veterans

    Working Life

    Florida is the nation's best state for military retirees looking for somewhere to settle. That's according to a study released Monday by WalletHub which rated Florida the most friendly when it comes to economic factors, quality of life and health care.

    Veterans watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp in 2016. Florida is the most friendly state for retired veterans according to a new WalletHub study. | LOREN ELLIOTT, Times