The Chamber’s December Public Policy Council meeting featured St. Petersburg’s Interim City Administrator Tom Gibson, who spoke about the sanitary sewer overflows and management of storm water. Since 1991, the city has made over $160M in improvements to the storm water system. Mr. Gibson stated that the emergency overflow earlier this year was due to lack of disposal capacity, reclaim distribution, and an inadequate disposal system. The sought improvements from the city will divert 15M gallons from sewer systems to storm water treatment, allowing waste water to settle its solids.
Due to the growth of condo complexes in downtown St. Petersburg and the downtown’s vibrant nightlife, there has been a rise in downtown noise complaints by residents. Councilman Karl Nurse proposed that after 11pm, speakers must be permanently fixed speakers must be placed directing sound towards the building or to the ground to eliminate the disturbance. The proposed changes to the city’s noise ordinance will be presented to city council for first reading in January.
Commissioner Janet Long provided the Chamber with a County update – a week after the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve the Tourist Development Tax revenue formula. Commissioner Long supported the county allocating additional bed tax dollars to fund future capital projects like professional sports stadiums, museums, aquariums and potentially tourist transit projects. Commissioner Long also recognized that the county needs to have additional revenue to adequately repair and expand the county’s storm water infrastructure to decrease sewage overflows.
The Task Force updates included a report by the Legislative Chair, Barclay Harless that Rep. Kathleen Peters and Senator Jeff Brandes will sponsor the Chamber’s local funding request from the state for a ‘Big Data Pilot Program’. The Chamber withdrew a local funding request for the ‘Student Achievement Partnership’ that would have funded a collective impact program meant to bring together the business community, community partners, education foundations and the school system. The Transportation Task has invited Vice President of CSX, Bob O’Malley speak to the Chamber on Tuesday, December 8th at 1:00 pm. The Diversity and Inclusiveness Task Force has invited Tom Plummer on Wednesday, December 9th at 6:00 pm to advise the Task Force on how to conduct a small focus group study to find out what resources the Chamber can offer to locally minority woman owned businesses.