Tampa moves ahead on quarter-billion dollar storm water fix
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA — The Tampa City Council voted unanimously Thursday to go with the big fix and present a plan that will cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars to help ease flooding of the kind that put Tampa in the national spotlight this week.
The measure, which involves big hikes in storm water assessment fees for capital improvements over the next six years and maybe beyond, now faces a public hearing Aug. 27.
Most city residents got notices earlier this week notifying of what the bump in fees will be.
Brad Baird, director of the city’s public works department, presented the council two options. One came with a more affordable $61 million price tag but it won’t come close to fixing the real problems and other costs $251.3 million.
The big fix would install drainage systems in flood-prone areas and upgrade maintenance of existing infrastructure — needs that were driven home with 11 consecutive days of rain, some days with 4 and 5 inches each.
“We have to take care of our existing system first,” Baird said. “And we are falling short of our resources.”
The plan involves making improvements to what is called the Central and Lower Basin Improvement Area — low-lying areas all around the city, including South Tampa, where flooding is common during and after a hard rain.