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. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  2. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  3. Jones: What Bucs need in final preseason games, more or less


    That's it. Let's start the season. Start it right now.

    Tom Jones wants to see less of Jameis Winston playing hot potato with the football and throwing it up for anyone to catch. [Getty Images]
  4. 97X Next Big Thing expands to two days; Paramore, the Lumineers lead lineup


    This December, 97X is putting the big in Next Big Thing.

    The Lumineers
  5. Florida prison guards seize weapons, cellphones as statewide lockdown enters day 3


    MIAMI — The unrest continued for a third day at Florida state prisons, as corrections officers — some of them armed — staged a show of force in an attempt to stave off an unspecified threat of violence this weekend.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]