Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills come due, and water rates are about to go up for everyone. Requiring those who use reclaimed water ó a discretionary service ó to pay the full cost is the fairest way forward.

The City Council will consider a rate increase today that is drawing angry opposition from reclaimed water customers, who would see an initial jump of 26 percent, or about $5 a month. Over five years, the rate would double. Itís not an insignificant hit, especially when combined with an $11-a-month increase to the average water bill that is also part of the sewer costs. Both could show up in bills beginning in January.

But unlike regular water and sewer service, reclaimed water is something of a specialty product. Itís treated wastewater that can be used for watering lawns and washing cars but is not safe for consumption. Customers who use reclaimed water for those purposes enable the city to buy less water from the regional consortium, Tampa Bay Water. And itís environmentally friendly, because it conserves drinking water. But reclaimed water rates now cover only about 70 percent of the cost, so in effect the rest of the cityís utility customers are subsidizing a system used by a relative few.

Those few are generally in neighborhoods such as Snell Isle, the Old Northeast, the Old Southeast and Shore Acres. City Council member Karl Nurse has characterized these as wealthy areas, which is too broad a generalization. But his underlying point is valid: Property owners in those neighborhoods can more easily absorb increases to their monthly bills than those in low-income areas. With utility bills rising for everyone, there is simply no defense for making everyone, including the poor, help pay for a service they donít use.

This is only the beginning of what will be a long, expensive repair job to St. Petersburgís sewer system. The cityís utility customers will feel the burden of higher bills for years. Itís only right for the City Council to implement the increases fairly, starting with reclaimed water rates that cover the entire cost.

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Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

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Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

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Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

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Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18