The meeting’s centerpiece was a presentation by City Councilmember Steve Kornell and Public Works Administrator Claude Tankersley regarding St. Petersburg’s plans for water system improvements. Mr. Kornell began by emphasizing that the City was making decisions based on data and sound science. He reported that private laterals, the pipes that connect homes to sewer mains, accounted for between 50 and 70 percent of infiltration into the sewer system. Additionally, the three city sewage plants handle more volume of infiltration than they do sewage. As per the most recent water study’s recommendation, the city will look to allocate an extra $8 million for piping. The Councilmember told the assembly that though the private laterals are a priority, they’re not the only one, and that the City would move forward in resolving the issue with the cooperation and input of business and community organizations.
Mr. Tankersley took the floor to explain certain technical aspects of the pipe issue, and to answer questions. Given that the cost of replacing laterals on a given private property can range from $3-10 thousand, the City is developing plans to make repairs economical for homeowners; Councilmember Kornell said he preferred a voluntary program to a mandate. Mr. Tankersley pointed out that St. Petersburg is the only community in Florida, and one of the only cities in the country to address the issue of private laterals in the water management system.
Next up was County Commissioner Janet Long with an update on the County’s finances and upcoming projects. She reported that the County’s yearly budget was $2.2 billion, a 6% increase over last year, an indicator of strong growth. Additionally, no taxes will increase and staffing is at 1988 levels. Ms. Long touted the implementation of a Community Redevelopment Authority in the county’s poorest area, Lealman. After mentioning the Campbell Park produce truck and the adult pre-arrest diversion program, she emphasized the importance of excellent transportation services to facilitate citywide and regional connectivity, and praised the state of the county’s reserves.
Raul Quintana then gave an update on the Pier Project, noting that the final yearlong design phase is about to begin, and that demolition of existing structures will finish in September.
Travis Norton reported on the Transportation Task Force’s unanimous support for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension project, and asked that the Public Policy Council support it as well. The motion in support passed with unanimity.
Finally, Ronnell Montgomery and Daryle Hamel gave updates on the Diversity & Inclusiveness and Sustainability Task Forces, respectively.