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Karl Nurse in D.C. shopping for aid programs start-up money

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Longtime City Councilman Karl Nurse will represent St. Petersburg at the National League of Cities meeting Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C. He has no  specific goals in mind, but hopes to find possible pilot programs to help families that would be funded through various foundations.

Nurse has been successful in doing this before.

“Several years ago, I brought back the ‘Bank on St. Pete,’” Nurse said.

That program pushes cities to promote credit union-type banking systems to steer residents away from predatory lending associated with some bigger banks.

That program has since spread to several Florida cities and now is known locally as “Bank on Tampa Bay.”

“We [also] helped a couple of thousand people get financial literacy training and bank [or] credit union accounts,” Nurse said.

The city is also in the midst of a test program that uses late water and utility payments as what Nurse described as the “canary in the mineshaft.” The program uses the late fees to invite residents to participate in free budget training courses aimed at reducing late payments and helping work out fee repayment schedules.

“Collecting late water bills is expensive,” Nurse said.

He said it’s not clear yet whether the program will be a success, but so far it has connected 100 St. Petersburg families to classes. It’s one example of what can be brought home from the league’s city workshops.

In addition to foundation grants for pilot programs, there are also opportunities to nab federal dollars. Those resources, Nurse said, have shrunk in past years.

Nurse said the meetings are also a way to get insight from leaders in other cities.

“I have been active in the National League of Cities for two reasons,” Nurse said. The first is “ to learn best practices from other cities and (then) bring them.”

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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