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Steve Kornell says small fix can help St. Pete's sewage problems

Steve Kornell knows his idea won't put much of a dent in the $326 million bill the city must pay over the next five years to fix its inadequate and outdated sewer system.

But that hasn't stopped him from urging his fellow City Council members to adopt his idea of next year sending $2 million from the city's operating budget back to the Water Resources Department to help pay for repairing aging pipes, manhole covers and sewer plants.

Every little bit helps, he said.

"I don't think this is a radical proposal," Kornell said. "I think we have chance to do something here that is hard, that is not easy, but down the road puts us in better shape for generations."

The department has operated as an enterprise fund since the 1980s. That means it is expected to fund its operations off the utility fees charged to residential and wholesale customers. As an enterprise fund, the department sent more than $11.4 million to the city's general fund last year.