If we have learned anything from the just-completed election, it is this: People are fed up with the political status quo. I mean, isn’t that obvious?
Apparently not to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
He wants to shift an additional $14 million into his city’s Pier project, which could bring the overall cost to $80 million. Kriesman’s logic is exactly the reason millions of people voted for Donald Trump.
“I’m looking at, if we invest some more money, we can have a world-class Pier,” Kriseman said in the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s more taking the elements that would exist in the current budget and taking them up another notch.”
Grab hold of your wallets when mayors and other elected officials start using words like “invest” and “world-class” because it usually means they’re investing in a world-class monument to themselves.
The money would come from a special tax increment financing plan, or TIF district. That sounds good because it doesn’t sock taxpayers directly, but as city council members pointed out some of the TIF money could be directed to other more pressing projects that aren’t as glamorous as the Pier.
Even giving the good mayor the benefit of the doubt on that one, he surely must know that those words “invest” and “world class” are etched on the tombstones of politicians whose careers died because they wanted to take things “up another notch.”
The more prudent approach would be to take the city’s crumbling sewer system “up another notch” – well, a lot more notches, because no one has forgotten the stench in the streets in September after Hurricane Hermine overpowered the wastewater system and sent ca-ca flowing into the streets.
That is a public safety issue.
The Pier is not.
Whatever happened to holding the line on costs?
This doggone Pier was originally supposed to cost $46 million. Google, a wonderful invention, popped up a Times story from about five years ago, that reported if the city would just throw in a few million more the Pier would be a whole lot better.
That same story included a promise from officials that they absolutely, positively were going to cap costs at $50 million. It included a great quote from then-Mayor Bill Foster: “For $50 million, people will get a Pier.”
Well, it’s already at $66 million and now Kriseman wants more. I suspect he is misreading the mood of the voters on this one. I also imagine they will explain that to him at the appropriate time.