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Salaries surprising in the St. Petersburg-Tampa sibling rivalry

Now here's something interesting when it comes to the simmering sibling rivalry between Tampa and St. Petersburg.

No, I'm not talking about where the Tampa Bay Rays may one day play. I'm not even talking about that regional nickname, "Tampa Bay," which rankles some St. Petersburg folks by failing to actually mention St. Petersburg.

But if it seems like all Tampa all the time, consider this tidbit about our respective mayors:

St. Petersburg's Bill Foster makes more money than Tampa's Pam Iorio.

In fact, St. Petersburg's police chief makes more than Tampa's mayor.

Take that, Tampa!

Never mind Tampa is bigger (population 343,890 compared to 244,324 for St. Petersburg). Or that Tampa has the big airport, the football stadium and the port to worry about. St. Petersburg, with a thriving arts scene and waterfront, has its own challenges but enjoys a less gritty reputation.

Now if, like me, you are fascinated by Parade magazine's what-people-earn edition — the one that lists salaries from bus boy to Bill Gates and makes you feel alternately lucky and bummed out — here are the numbers:

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster: $158,355 a year.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio: $149,999.

St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon: $152,315.

Tampa police Chief Jane Castor: $144,393.

Maybe you're thinking: Aha! Even today, women in America make about 77 cents for each dollar paid to men. And you'll notice the two in Tampa are of the female persuasion.

But, no. It just goes back to a weird history of mayoral pay.

Tampa has traditionally increased the mayor's salary every eight years for reasons no one seems to know. In 2006, the City Council voted to up it from $135,000 to $150,000, bringing Tampa into the St. Petersburg ballpark.

(Ballpark being a sensitive subject, I know.)

St. Petersburg went through a similar bump in 2005, from $113,644 to $150,000. The mayor gets the same yearly increase as city management, or in last year's case, the same decrease.

For perspective on mayoral pay: Orlando's mayor makes $156,205.

Iorio doesn't worry about pay disparity. "The pay is just not what it's all about," she says.

Foster wasn't aware of it, and has only good things to say about his next-door neighbor.

In fact, when it comes to rivalry, everyone's sounding awfully hands-across-the-bay these days, talking regional rather than parochial.

The Republican National Convention? Foster's glad Tampa got it — those "party animals" will surely make their way to his side of the pond for hotels, museums, restaurants and parks.

And though others in her town might think differently, Iorio expresses no interest in luring the Rays. "I believe in regionalism, and I believe the assets of the region belong to all of us," she has said.

Meanwhile, he's taking her to lunch and to see a recent feather in St. Petersburg's cap, the Chihuly exhibit.

And she's looking forward to it.

"I've always said what's good for Tampa is good for St. Pete," Foster says.

Except, of course, when it comes to where the Rays will ultimately play.

But, hey, that's another sibling rivalry story for another day.

Salaries surprising in the St. Petersburg-Tampa sibling rivalry 08/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 21, 2010 12:13pm]
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