09/18/17 Local Government
TAMPA — The City Council voted 4-3 Monday night to scale back Mayor Bob Buckhorn's proposed property tax increase for 2018.
Buckhorn originally proposed a tax rate that would have added $140 to the city tax bill of a homeowner who lives in a house with the average assessment of $166,579.
But that proved to be too much for most council members, who tend to support the mayor's proposed spending....
TAMPA — Having seen hurricanes hit other cities, Tampa officials have had time to think about how they would react if a major storm struck the city for the first time since 1921.
Hurricane Irma wasn't a direct hit, but Tampa was roughed up enough that City Hall put its recovery plan in action: A private contractor was brought in to pick up storm debris daily, recreation centers were opened for kids out of school, and the city scraped together $1.5 million in state and federal housing funds to help pay for repairs to homes of low-income residents....
Now that Hurricane Irma has staggered through Florida like a drunken tourist, it is telling that the early lessons from the storm's impact around Tampa Bay are less about life-and-death and more about quality of life.
We learned the value of having generators on stand-by. Of knowing the rules of the road at intersections without signals. Of knowing your neighbors. And of pre-brewing some good coffee for the morning after the storm....
TAMPA — City Hall is opening four community assistance centers to help Tampa residents apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid and for limited local funding to help repair damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
The city's Disaster Recovery Program will take applications until its $1.5 million in funding is exhausted. The city created the program by putting together federal Community Development Block Grant and State Housing Initiatives Partnership funds....
TAMPA — City Hall has activated a private contractor, Ceres Environmental, to begin picking up and hauling away debris from Hurricane Irma starting Thursday.
Storm debris collection will continue 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. seven days a week through Oct. 27. Residents should place debris at the curb and:
• Separate debris into the following categories: vegetative (un-bagged), construction and demolition, appliances and white goods, such as refrigerators or washers and electronics....
With schools closed, the city of Tampa is opening its recreation centers early starting today to give kids and a parents a break, officials said.
Normally, the rec centers would not offer programmed activities until the afternoons after school, city spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said. But they will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday.
“Thousands of residents in the city are still out of power. It’s hot and uncomfortable. We are hoping by opening up the parks and pools, families will be able to get out, cool off, and make the best of the next couple days,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in announcing the openings. “Our work didn’t stop after the sun came out. We are out in neighborhoods cleaning up debris, fixing traffic signals and addressing issues in every corner of our city. Be patient with us and be kind to your neighbors. We are all in this together.”...
09/13/17 Local Government
TAMPA — The City Council on Wednesday postponed an important public hearing on the city's budget and property tax rate for 2018 due to Hurricane Irma.
With Tampa residents still returning home, cleaning up and waiting for power to come on, city officials said it was unfair to expect residents to drop what they were doing, trek to City Hall and weigh in on the budget.
"I don't think two days after a major storm was the appropriate time," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said before the meeting....
TAMPA — More than a third of Tampa's sewage pumping stations lost power during Hurricane Irma, leading to an undetermined volume of untreated waste water being spilled throughout the city, and most of the pumping stations still lacked power Tuesday.
The city has 230 pumping stations. The hurricane knocked out power to 80 of them, according to Brad Baird, the city's top utilities official. As of late Tuesday afternoon, 75 still had not had electrical service restored....
TAMPA — After sleeping for an hour on the floor next to a treadmill in an exercise room at Tampa's emergency operations center, Mayor Bob Buckhorn ventured out Monday morning for what was officially a tour of the damage from Hurricane Irma.
But within a few miles, it felt more like a victory lap.
"This is better than I expected," Buckhorn said from the front seat of a black city SUV driven by a police detective. Minutes later, he called Air Force Col. April Vogel, the commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base....
TAMPA — The city of Tampa lifted its curfew at 8 a.m. Monday amid reports of sporadic but not extensive damage.
A drive through downtown, Davis Islands, Hyde Park, West Tampa and Tampa Heights around 7 a.m. turned up virtually no structural damage, but many tree branches in the street and a few trees toppled over. In Tampa Heights, a large oak tree did take down some power lines on the 100 block of E Gladys Street....
TAMPA — Is Tampa under a curfew starting at 6 p.m. Sunday or not?
Yes, Mayor Bob Buckhorn declared Sunday morning.
No, countered Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill at a 4 p.m. news briefing, not for Hillsborough County or any of its three cities — Tampa, Temple Terrace or Plant City.
Merrill said only the county administrator has the authority to set a curfew under a state of emergency....
Tampa closing westbound lanes on Gandy Bridge, Courtney Campbell causeway; will pull officers from streets after09/10/17Hurricanes
TAMPA — Tampa officials said about 4:45 p.m. Sunday that police were closing the westbound lanes of the Gandy Bridge and Courtney Campbell causeway in response to deteriorating weather and driving conditions caused by Hurricane Irma.
As soon as the bridges are closed, Tampa police plan to pull their officers from the street, city spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said. Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said the city will not be able to dispatch police officers or firefighters to perform rescues once sustained winds exceed 40 mph....
TAMPA — With Hurricane Irma on a collision course with the Tampa Bay area, satellite trucks and top TV network talent took up positions along Tampa's Riverwalk Sunday.
For Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has done something like three dozen interviews over the past few days, that means a lot of requests for live TV appearances.
Sunday morning, he set out with a police driver and a couple of staffers for an interview with NBC's Today Show. The destination, as far as anyone knew: The Tampa Convention Center....
TAMPA — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn today enacted a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. after getting Tampa Electric estimates that as much as 60 percent of the city could lack electricity after Hurricane Irma strikes.
Meanwhile, St. Petersburg has enacted a 5 p.m. curfew.
"You may not have power for a number of days, if not weeks," Buckhorn said. "We know that we are ground zero for Hurricane Irma. For 90 years we have avoided this day, but I think our day has come. ... What I am concerned about the most is the storm surge."...
TAMPA — The woman on the other end of the phone was calling from New England, and was panicking about family in Tampa: Did they have to evacuate? What if they had special needs? Where could they go? What should they do?
As Jordan Moberg worked through her questions, the caller calmed down, said she felt "so much better," started to thank her — and burst into tears.
"And then I almost started to cry because she cried," Moberg said, recalling a "small but sweet emotional moment."...