Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

Treasure Island tries to settle wastewater dispute with St. Petersburg

TREASURE ISLAND — The city is making another attempt to settle a decades-old dispute with the city of St. Petersburg over sewage treatment fees.

Treasure Island has sent a letter to St. Petersburg arguing that it is being discriminated against in the fees it is charged and asserting that its fee structure should be the same as that of St. Pete Beach, which now pays lower rates.

"We think we are identical in our use of the wastewater system. That's why we think we should be charged the same fees," Mayor Robert Minning said.

In a letter to St. Petersburg, Minning said Treasure Island is in the same user class as St. Pete Beach and uses the same pipeline that carries sewage over the causeway to St. Petersburg's northwest water treatment plant.

The city's consultant, PRMG Inc., conducted a study that the city says found the rates charged to Treasure Island "are unreasonable and discriminatory."

The city is still stipulating that it should keep the interest — about $180,721 — on $1.3 million held in escrow for a sewage treatment surcharge. A 2012 court ruling determined St. Petersburg should receive the $1.3 million and the interest.

In its offer, Treasure Island says it is willing to drop two pending suits against St. Petersburg.

The origin of the dispute goes back decades, when a regional treatment plant was built in St. Petersburg to handle wastewater from Treasure Island and other beach communities.

In 2002, St. Petersburg came to a new agreement with St. Pete Beach. New wastewater fees "created a deficiency in the cost of wholesale wastewater service which had to be made up" by increasing wholesale wastewater rates to Treasure Island and other clients, city attorneys charged.

But St. Petersburg Assistant City Attorney Jane Wallace said the rate being used for Treasure Island was the one the city chose in 2004.

"It is the uniform volume rate the city selected, so it's hard to understand why they now don't want the rate they picked," she said.

St. Petersburg reviews its utility rates annually, Wallace said.

A previous settlement offer by Treasure Island in July to the city of St. Petersburg was turned down.

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