Plan to fix flooding in Tampa helps taxpayers

Posted at 7:19 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 00:52:15-04
Tampa is searching for a flooding fix.
"When it floods, the city shuts down and that's just unacceptable," said owner of Built Furniture and Fixtures Andrew Watson. "There needs to be a fix."
Last August pumped water, not cash, into Watson's handcrafted furniture company off North Rome Avenue. 30 inches of water rose inside their old building causing their cash flow to recede.
"Since then, we've been picking up the pieces," he said.
Watson says his employees lost work for about a month-- a devastating hit for a small business. But the flooding impact soaked homeowners and drivers city wide.
"You address the problem in the worst areas and you're not imposing new fees or taxes on people," said Tampa City Council Member Guido Maniscalco.
Now city leaders are floating a new solution. Instead of raising storm water fees which council voted down, the idea is to use $18 million from the Community Investment Tax fund or CIT which is generated by sales tax revenues.
"The Tampa resident city-wide wouldn't see any changes, anywhere. We've found that money that way, address those problems, that would cover a lot of what's called the Upper Peninsula, which is that section from Kennedy and Westshore to Dale Mabry and Henderson," said Maniscalco.
Maniscalco says the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Transportation would add $18 million and $3 million respectively to the project.
Watson believes the fix is long overdue.
"It'll certainly help with out of town-ers coming to Tampa. So people vacationing, a little bit of what they're spending to be here, enjoy Tampa, would help us keep Tampa beautiful," he said.
Voters created the CIT in 1996 with a half cent sales tax referendum which ended up funding part of Raymond James Stadium. Since then, the CIT has helped build the Tampa Museum of Art among other projects.