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City Council lays down preliminary 2017 budget priorities

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St. Petersburg City Council members met Thursday to start early debate on how the city should allocate its money next week. During a workshop, each council member laid out priorities for the fiscal year 2017 budget. Several council members, certainly enough for staff to pay attention to when writing the next budget, wanted to work toward lowering the city’s property tax rate. The current tax rate is at 6.77 mills – that means homeowners pay $6.77 per $1,000 of assessed…

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St. Pete City Council approves 10 Southside CRA programs and nearly $500,000 budget

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St. Pete City Council approved 10 items aimed at lifting poverty and boosting the economy in South St. Pete during its meeting. The vote was 7-0 with Council Vice Chairwoman Darden Rice absent for the vote. Council also approved unanimously a budget to support those items. The items were recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee to be funded through the first round of appropriations from the newly created Southside Community Redevelopment Area. Five of the proposals would use county-approved Tax…

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Ken Welch to launch fourth re-election campaign

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Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch is officially launching his re-election campaign next week. Welch will be meeting with supporters at the Hangar Restaurant located at 540 First Street SE Wednesday, February 10. Congresswoman Kathy Castor will be on hand as a special guest, though an invitation sent to prospective donors makes clear she “is not asking for funds or donations” as per campaign finance rules. Welch has already built an impressive host committee consisting of several current and former mayors.…

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Yard waste grinding services in St. Pete raise questions about competitive bidding

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St. Pete City Council went ahead and approved a three-year contract with Consolidated Resource Recovery, Inc. for yard waste grinding services despite some concerns raised about the lack of competition for the job and the overall cost effectiveness. The contract would have sailed to swift approval without an iota of discussion had it not been yanked from the consent agenda by former City Council chair Charlie Gerdes. Gerdes questioned whether or not the city could use the $427,700 minimum annual…

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Charlie Gerdes wants to turn dead leaves into teen jobs

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St. Pete City Council will hear a staff report pertaining to the city’s estimated 40,000 tons of yard waste dumped at the city’s brush sites each year. A sole bidder, Consolidated Resource Recovery, is asking for more than $427,000 each year to grind that waste into mulch. That works out to $329 per hour for the service. It’s one of those items that typically flies under the radar and is approved in a blanket motion to approve items on the…

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St. Pete City Council approves Rays deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays can begin the long-awaited process of looking for a new stadium site outside of St. Pete in Pinellas or Hillsborough County. St. Pete City Council approved a new Memorandum of Understanding 5-3. Council voted as many expected with veteran council members and longtime deal naysayers Steve Kornell and Jim Kennedy rejecting the latest proposal. New council member Ed Montanari joined the two in voting against the deal. Newly elected council member Lisa Wheeler-Brown was the deciding…

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The Rays deal: What does it all mean?

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It’s been a little more than a year since the first round of Rick Kriseman administration excitement over a proposed deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Closing out his first year in office, St. Pete’s mayor managed to emerge from Tropicana Field practically holding hands with Brian Auld, the team’s president, with a deal in hand. Queue the City Council rejection. Since then the saga has been a whirlwind of Kriseman’s testy comments to stubborn council members who refused to…

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