09/03/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Public employees jammed City Council chambers Thursday to demand higher wages as part of the administration's proposed $224 million main operating budget for next year.
"If we don't get it, shut it down," chanted city workers unhappy with Mayor Rick Kriseman's plan to do away with "step" increases — automatic raises based on seniority.
Kriseman has proposed 3 percent across-the-board raises for city workers, but union leaders say his negotiators have tried to scrap step increases. The union says that move would make the paychecks of some blue-collar employees lighter by up to 10 percent in the future....
ST. PETERSBURG---The City Council got its first public reaction to a proposed $224 million general fund budget at the end of a busy day.
"If we don't get it, shut it down," chanted city workers unhappy with Mayor Rick Kriseman's stance on "step" or automatic pay increases as they filled nearly every seat in council chambers before the meeting.
Kriseman has proposed a 3 percent across-the-board raises for city workers, but union leaders say his negotiators have tried to scrap step increases. The union says that move would make the paychecks of some blue-collar employees lighter by up to 10 percent....
09/03/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG— City workers unhappy with negotiations on a new contract and Pier Park opponents leery of improvements to the approach are likely to make appeals to City Council members today.
It'll be a long day. Shortly after the meeting begins at 8:30 a.m., the council will likely vote on $20 million for improvements connecting Beach Drive to planned Pier Park project. Some council members have said they want to start talking about eventually winding down the TIF district that encompasses downtown and send the money elsewhere in the city....
A proposed 3.75 percent utility rate increase Thursday became a sort of City Council referendum on the city's sewer system and its management at Thursday's meeting.
Eventually, the council advanced the measure by a 6-2 vote. Council members Darden Rice and Wengay Newton voted against the measure.
And Mayor Rick Kriseman pitched in with an offer to kick in $500,000 for sewer fixes. ...
09/03/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The hawk screeching and fluttering on the arm of a handler was the only one who wasn't seemingly thrilled recently as city officials, environmental activists and Lakewood Estates residents cheered the news that the city has reached an agreement to buy nearly 35 acres along the southern edge of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.
But some council members greeted the mayor's announcement with less acclaim then the crowd that cheered Kriseman at the preserve last week. At a council meeting a day after Kriseman's Aug. 26 announcement, several council members, most vocally Jim Kennedy, questioned whether the thin strip of land is even able to be developed....
St. Petersbug City Council approves TIF money for waterfront, but warns downtown improvements nearing end09/03/15 Blog
The first steps for the reimagining St. Petersburg's waterfront were approved by the City Council Thursday with $20 million earmarked for sprucing up the approach to the future Pier Park.
The unanimous vote came after a lengthy debate with several council members saying the city should conside ending the tax-increment finance district early or dedicating its $11 million annual revenue to sewer repairs....
09/01/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman said Cuban officials are receptive to his idea of placing a consulate for the island nation in Florida's Sunshine City.
"Having a Cuban consulate would be a very good thing for us," Kriseman said at a City Hall news conference Tuesday, three days after his return from a weather-shortened trip to Havana.
A "couple of other" Florida cities have been "outright rejected," said City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes, alluding to Tampa and Miami, which have larger Cuban populations. "One of them should be very obvious, it's on the southeast coast of Florida."...
Mayor Rick Kriseman said Cuban officials were receptive to his idea of placing a consulate for that island nation in his city.
“Having a Cuban consulate would be a very good thing for us,” Kriseman said at a City Hall news conference three days after his return from a weather-shortened 48-hour trip to Havana.
A “couple of other” Florida cities have been “outright rejected,” said City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes.
“One of them should be very obvious, it’s on the southeast coast of Florida,” Gerdes said....
Downtown St. Petersburg is the posterchild of urban renaissance in the Tampa Bay region. A burgeoning arts scene, restaurant and bar opening up almost weekly, high-rise condos now being joined by a flurry of upscale apartments. And St. Petersburg One, 41-story downtown hotel and condo project on the horizon, hightlighting a bevy of new construction.
On Thursday, the City Council---meeting as the community redevelopment agency---is expected to approve another $20 million for downtown on the approach to the Pier. A newly-minted downtown waterfront master plan calls for tens of millions of more improvements. The money is coming from a tax-increment financing district created in 1982, when green benches and genial torpor were the calling cards for the Sunshine City. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — When the city pumped more than 16 million gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage into Tampa and Boca Ciega bays this month, it thrust a coveted piece of waterfront property back into the public eye.
Nestled next to Albert Whitted Airport is the city's oldest sewage treatment plant, closed since April. The decision to shutter the plant, made several years ago, was triggered by a state regulatory change that made the plant obsolete....
Mayor Rick Kriseman's trip to Cuba ended early.
The mayor is heading back to St. Petersburg with Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, City Council chairman Charlie Gerdes and Chief of Staff Kevin King this morning. They should be back in the city by lunchtime, said Kriseman's spokesman Ben Kirby.
Tropical Storm Erika is approaching Cuba and Kriseman has said that he would return early if severe weather threatened. Forecasts show the storm reaching Tampa Bay early Tuesday....
It wasn't an easy first public appearance for Tom Gibson, the city's interim public works administrator.
Gibson replaced Mike Connors, who abruptly retired on Monday, after months of controversy, the most recent episode being the city's dumping of more than 16 million gallons into Tampa and Boca Ciega bays this month.
On Thursday, Gibson faced council members that demanded answers and solutions. Gibson and Water Resources Director Steve Leavitt held to their position that the dumping was due to an extraordinary weather event from mid-July to early August....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman heads to Cuba this morning in hopes of establishing economic and cultural ties with the island nation.
The three-day trip comes nearly two months after President Barack Obama announced the United States was re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba after 54 years. Kriseman said he will make a pitch that Cuba should pass over rival Florida cities Tampa and Miami and open a consulate office in St. Petersburg....
Mayor Rick Kriseman will visit Cuba, leaving early Thursday morning for three-day visit to the island.
Accompanying the mayor will be Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes and Kriseman's chief of staff Kevin King.
The group will fly from Tampa to Havana on a chartered flight. The entire trip will be paid for by the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, said Ben Kirby, Kriseman's spokesman....
He's still the only declared candidate in the 13th Congressional District and Democrat Eric Lynn is determined to claim his share of a political stage currently crowded with speculation about Charlie Crist's intentions.
On Wednesday, Lynn, whose campaign handlers who complained hasn't received adequate coverage from the media on policy issues, took matters — and some of his considerable war chest (more than $400,000) — into his own hands. ...