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Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg ‘under siege’ by bad bills, budget cuts

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Donald Trump’s proposed budget and bad bills in Tallahassee are putting cities “under siege,” according to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

“Our city is under siege by bad proposed bills and budgets,” Kriseman said in a news conference Thursday. Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman joined the mayor to speak in front of a home in South St. Petersburg.

Urging residents to call their representatives in protest, the mayor blasted the Trump administration for efforts to shut down the Community Development Block Grant program, as well significant cuts to the Housing and Urban Development budget.

The president was actively standing in the way of efforts to help low-income citizens, Kriseman said.

St. Petersburg receives about $3 million in CDBG funds, which goes to improvements to homes in low-income neighborhoods like the one where the event was held at 2645 14th Ave. S.

“These programs are vital to our community,” Wheeler-Bowman said. “The loss of these programs will be devastating.”

Kriseman also had strong words for the Florida Legislature, which is considering changes in the tax increment financing (TIF) process.

Legislation sponsored by Republican State Rep. Jake Raeburn of Valrico and Sen. Tom Lee of Thonotosassa are seeking to change the rules governing TIF funds.

TIF’s use tax revenues for specially designated community redevelopment areas (CRA), financing improvements in low-income communities. St. Petersburg has four CRA’s.

The bills from Raeburn and Lee (HB 13/SB 1770) came after reports of mismanagement in a single Miami-Dade CRA in Hallandale Beach.

Kriseman criticized blaming an entire system for the “actions of one community.” Residents should contact Senate President Joe Negron directly, Kriseman said, calling him to stop the bills.

“We need to hold them all accountable for their votes,” he added.

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