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St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island reject BP oil spill settlement proposals

Published Jul. 18, 2015

The cities of St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island rejected proposed settlements on Friday that would have ended their respective lawsuits against BP and other defendants for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Commissioners in each city voted 5-0 to reject the offers after discussing them with attorneys. The settlement amounts were not disclosed, and officials in both cities declined to comment, citing a confidentiality order from the federal judge handling the case.

The cities appear to be the last of Tampa Bay area governments to vote on BP settlement proposals and the only two to reject them. The next steps were unclear Friday.

"The best thing to say is counsel will do additional work and report back to the commission," said Treasure Island Mayor Robert Minning.

According to 2013 court filings, St. Pete Beach estimated its past and future losses and damages at more than $20 million, while Treasure Island estimated its total losses and damages at more than $10 million.

However, the settlement proposals that elected officials are considering this week are the result of a formula developed by court-appointed neutral parties and are based largely on estimates of tax revenue lost in the months after the spill. Pinellas County generally did not see oil reach its shores, though recent findings showed a minuscule amount landed on Sunset Beach.

The settlement deals, which must still be approved by BP and the court, range from $131,898 for the small Pinellas city of South Pasadena to $28.5 million for Hills­borough County, which sued for $43 million. Generally, the settlements are less than half of the what cities and counties sought.

Other settlement proposals approved by local officials this week include $1.2 million for Indian Rocks Beach (which sued for $3.1 million) and nearly $747,000 for Madeira Beach (which sought $2.5 million).

Attorneys for governments that approved settlement proposals said the funds could arrive within two to three months.

Minning said he thinks a resolution will come sooner than later.

"BP wants to get these issues resolved ASAP," he said. "I suspect with that in mind, this will not be dragged out."