St. Petersburg city workers would get modest pay raises and water customers would pay a bit more, but otherwise the 2013-14 city budget proposed by Mayor Bill Foster generally maintains the status quo. At its first public hearing on the budget today, the City Council should consider a pair of modest investments promoted by a grass roots group.
The People's Budget Review, now in its second year, proposes the city set aside $100,000 — and ask other local governments to make contributions — to expand access to the Public Works Academy at Pinellas Technical Education Centers. For 25 years, the academy has trained individuals for jobs maintaining local governments' capital assets, a field expected to see high turnover in coming years as workers reach retirement age. The council should consider whether the minimal investment by the city could grow a future workforce and create a path to good jobs for more young people.
The citizens' group also seeks $100,000 dedicated to anti-poverty efforts in south St. Petersburg, one of the county's poorest areas. The council should consider whether some seed money, paired with the city's plan to designate a community redevelopment area with tax increment financing areas, will help attract future investment.
Both proposals cost relatively little money in a city with a $473 million operating budget. Both deserve a look.