08/18/17 Local Government
TAMPA — City Hall is being sued by the company it hired for a $3.2 million canal-repair project that ran into problems, plaguing neighborhoods along West Shore Boulevard with road closures and traffic delays even as its cost rose by 45 percent.
Pac Comm, based in Miami, filed the lawsuit in Hillsborough Circuit Court this week, seeking damages of more than $15,000.
The project's goal was to ease storm-driven flooding by expanding the Watrous Canal's ability to move stormwater from South Tampa to the bay. The work included repairing eroded banks along the canal and replacing a box culvert at West Shore Boulevard, which carries an average of 28,000 cars and trucks a day....
Mayors Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg and Julie Ward Bujalski of Dunedin have joined nearly 250 mayors nationwide in signing onto a “Mayor’s Compact Against Hate, Extremism, and Bigotry” launched by the Anti-Defamation League this week in response to the violence in Charlottesville....
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority picks builder for $230 million Selmon extension to Gandy Bridge08/15/17 Blog
The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority has awarded a $230 million contract to design and build an extension from the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway to the Gandy Bridge to a team of Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. and AECOM.
The extension will be a 2-mile-long toll lane in the median of Gandy Boulevard that will let drivers go to or from the expressway to the bridge without driving on Gandy Boulevard. The project will be paid for using toll revenues and money borrowed from the bond market....
When Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn last month unveiled a city budget that would raise property taxes to address two debts from the 1990s, he told City Council members that the city proposed to eliminate subsidies for a couple of nonprofit organizations, and that City Hall was sure to hear from them....
TAMPA — As Republicans in Congress and the White House have an on-again, off-again debate about repealing Obamacare, a couple of developments on the ground are expected to affect this winter's open enrollment period for coverage.
For one thing, Tampa is one of 18 cities nationwide affected by a Trump administration decision not to renew contracts with two companies that helped people sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act....
The Tampa City Council voted 4-2 late Thursday night to deny a rezoning for a 175-bed assisted living facility that developer Grady Pridgen proposed in Hyde Park near the bridge to Davis Islands.
During a lengthy public hearing, residents contended that the 9-story building at 509 S Hyde Park Ave., was out of scale with the neighborhood, would exacerbate an existing parking problem and could create traffic hazards on a route leading to Tampa General Hospital....
08/09/17 Local Government
TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Wednesday named a county executive from Frederick County in Maryland to run the parks department and oversee the debut of the city's biggest investment ever in West Tampa.
Paul Dial, currently the chief administrative officer for Frederick County, will succeed Greg Bayor, 69, who is retiring after nearly five and a half years as the city's director of parks and recreation....
08/03/17 Public Safety
TAMPA — The Tampa City Council took a step Thursday to tame unruly boating near Ben T. Davis Beach, Rocky Point and Whiskey Joe's Bar & Grill, voting to establish a slow-speed, minimum wake zone south of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
If the council approves it again at a final vote on Aug. 24, the restricted boating zone will extend more than four-fifths of a mile. One end will be 2,000 feet west of the far end of Ben T. Davis Beach. The other will be about 1,250 feet south of Rocky Point....
Supply could soon catch up with demand for Tampa's free Downtowner shuttle service thanks to the addition of two new all-electric Chevrolet Bolts Wednesday.
The on-demand pickup service will now have eight vehicles on the road at all times instead of six to respond to pickup requests that riders place via an app.
"It's been overwhelmingly popular," said Karen Kress, director of transportation and planning for the Tampa Downtown Partnership. She led the initiative to launch the free electric shuttles....
Tropical Storm Emily came as a surprise, but the Tampa Bay area is vulnerable to much bigger and much worse weather shocks in the future. The latest reminder comes courtesy of the Washington Post, which pulled together an engaging summary of the worst-case scenarioes here....
07/27/17 Local Government
TAMPA — A state-authorized program to help property owners finance energy-efficient or storm-resistant renovations faces another test at the Tampa City Council today.
Toward the end of their 9 a.m. meeting, council members are scheduled to get a report on the PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, program and could decide whether to allow it to operate inside the city limits.
The Legislature authorized the PACE program in 2010 but it still has to be approved on the local level, county by county and city by city. Around the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have opened the door to two different versions of PACE, but it's not allowed in Tampa without City Hall's okay....
TAMPA — Sarasota County Fire Marshal John Reed has been hired as Tampa's new fire marshal, and Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he wants Reed to shake up Tampa Fire Rescue's building inspection bureau.
Reed, 53, has been Sarasota County's fire marshal for four years, and before that worked 21 years at the Venice Fire Department, rising to chief. He replaces Charles Owen III, who retired in February after more than 21 years with Tampa Fire Rescue....
Palma Ceia is a neighborhood where walking is enjoying something of a renaissance.
A home-grown group, the Sidewalk Stompers, consists of parents and students who promote walking by strolling to Roosevelt Elementary together. The PTA and merchants have given prizes to students and classes with lots of walkers. And in a year and a half, the number of students walking to school has more than doubled....
07/20/17 Local Government
TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Thursday proposed a $974.2 million budget for next year that would raise the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989 and use the additional revenue to improve parks, expand fire service and prepare for looming financial challenges.
"I will not be here in two years," the term-limited mayor told the City Council. "It's incumbent on me to leave this city in good shape and to have made the appropriate decisions to prepare for what is coming over the next couple of years....
07/19/17 Local Government
TAMPA — The last time Tampa raised its property tax rate, the president was George H.W. Bush (the dad) and gasoline cost 97 cents a gallon.
Since then, not raising the tax rate has been an article of faith at City Hall.
But that could change this year.
On Thursday, Mayor Bob Buckhorn will present a proposed 2018 budget to the City Council that could total $900 million or more. He also will ask the council to consider raising the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989....