Wednesday, June 20, 2018

St. Pete water bills going up, and they will continue to do so


While you may not like the rate increase, you have to give Mayor Kriseman and his administration some credit for taking the problem head on.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
After a couple of frustrating years and a big judgement related to the St. Petersburg Wastewater and Storm Water systems the financial impact of years of infrastructure neglect is coming home to roost.
You can get the detail from: Caitlin Johnson, Tampa Bay Times: St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills.
The City’s consultant indicates the average increase is about 7%, which means if you live in St. Pete and use 4,000 gallons a month in potable and reclaimed drinking water your bill will go up about $10.96.
The typical method of funding water infrastructure has been with deficit financing using utility bonds. According to the Johnson article the City funded 10% and used bonds to cover the remaining 90% with a portion of utility revenue dedicated to pay off the bonds. A very expensive way to build infrastructure.
The City will now fund 50% up front reducing the amount raised from the bonds and saving significant amounts on interest charges.
All of this puts the City in sounder financial position, but the impact of the change flows directly to the customer. The prediction is rates will rise about 10% each year over the next five years.
While you may not like the rate increase and the long-term prognosis, you have to give Mayor Kriseman and his administration some credit for taking the problem head on.
After some initial carping about the lack of effort on the part of previous administrations and some serious encouragement from the State via a fine, Kriseman and his team have settled into the problem, and it looks like they have a viable plan that reaches into the future.
It doesn’t hurt that Kriseman term limits out in three years, so he won’t have to defend the water rates in a reelection bid, but he is also not sitting on his hands and passing the problem to the next Mayor.
In a longer view, putting the City’s water system on a sound financial and maintenance program may be a legacy piece bigger than the Pier and almost as big as the Tropicana site.
There will be a public hearing on the water rates on August 23, you can check the City calendar for time and location.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Beware the Blue Wave

This is not the election to vote by color (Red or Blue), or mascot (Donkey or Elephant), or because you have an issue with the guy in the White House.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
As we roll into mid-June, the State and local political races are really starting to heat up. Beginning with the Governor’s race and right down to your local County and municipal elections, there are plenty of candidates and plenty of money.
If you believe the old adage “follow the money” when it comes to who is trying to influence elections from the State house to City Council Chambers, I have a WEB site for you: Florida Politics.
Peter Schorsch and his staff of writers and sources at Extensive Media follow almost all the state-wide races gathering information on fundraising as well as political and issue positions. Key local races, especially in the Bay Area are included.
It is my go to site.
Most interesting to me in this election cycle is the concept of the Blue Wave where Democrats are trying to establish a state-wide game plan to take back at least one house of the legislature and the Governor’s Mansion.
The problem I see with all of this is that other than a Donkey as a mascot and a “D” beside their name it is difficult to get a group of Democrats to agree on anything. Kind of like herding cats.
When the Dems all start to talk alike and look alike common sense tells us someone is not playing straight. So, listening carefully and following the money are good ideas.
I am a Republican as you can see from the disclosures below, and on some levels, I can see how Republicans may be uncertain about the midterm elections and who to vote for.
Before you start buying into the so called “dissident” Republicans who hate Trump because he is rich, doesn’t follow their rules, is unimpressed by protocol and because the “we have always done it this way” is not his mantra, think before you grab board and hop on the Blue Wave.
One of Gwen Graham’s recent television ads tries to make a real negative out of the fact Florida’s Governor’s office has been in the hands of Republicans for over twenty years as has the legislature for a great deal of that time.
Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat look around at where Florida is. Sure, there are some significant challenges, especially in education, but where else would you really want to live?
It would be easy for Republicans to duck and run with all that emanates from the White House, especially if you watch too much CNN. These midterms are extremely important. We all need to do our research, listen carefully and vote for those candidates you believe can do the very best job.
This is not the election to vote by color (Red or Blue), or mascot (Donkey or Elephant), or because you have an issue with the guy in the White House.
These state and local offices and the politicians who are elected to them are most often the ones that affect your quality of life and pocketbook the most.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at 
Bay Post Photos.  
Disclosures:
Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate 

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Friday, June 15, 2018

See the noise data Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the Police are not sharing with you

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff


Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway had no idea the noise issue was citywide and included both bars and residences! Nor did they know which bars and residences were responsible for the noise! The City and Police thought the noise was just the downtown bars. 

Planning and Zoning presented the heat map to City Council's Public Services and Infrastructure (PSI) Committee. Everyone was in awe of the cool colors that highlighted the noisiest hot spots. However, the map was useless because it didn't show the bars and residences responsible for the repeat calls. While the City of St. Petersburg has identified many bars and residences with noise calls, the City has not made the data public. This is another example of a Mayor Kriseman's lack of transparency. That is why I am publishing the data. Here are a couple tidbits.
Many residents have stopped calling the police to report noise because the police seem to be protecting the bars. Instead of issuing citations, now the police ask the same bars over and over to turn down the music. However, police have no problem issuing a citation to residents who are playing their music loud. Residents are also not calling because some have been labeled a repeat caller, or re-occuring complainant. In addition, Police HAVE NOT published the geographic location of those calls. 
Last fall, I had met with Planning and Zoning to present my data on how bad the noise issue was. At the 2nd Public Meeting, the City did not know how may noise citations had been issued!
  • In 2017, there were 754 businesses and and residences with repeat calls. 
  • In 2017, twenty-five (25) establishments that serve alcohol with repeat calls had 141 calls out of 754 Calls, or 19%.
After the 2nd Public Meeting the City told me they would not build a heat map to show where the noise hot spots were. It was too difficult, the City said. So I built a map and published it here.

This Spring, we met again to discuss how the data can be used to create a heat map.  I shared what I learned in how the police under reports the noise for an establishment and other data points and concerns I had identified.

Through a Public Records Request, I obtained Planning and Zoning's spreadsheet used to create the heat map. I saw that with the City’s resources, they were able to identify more businesses and establishments than I was. Below is a table I created to list the bars and residences with repeat calls.
  • Note 1. The City's data does not identify every business and residence.
  • Note 2. Hotels and Apartments in gray may have calls from nearby establishments. This requires further analysis.








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