On Florida Matters this week, WUSF brings you exclusive interview with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Host Carson Cooper traveled to Tampa City Hall to talk with the first-term mayor.
1- On Being the ‘Pool Guy’
Mayor Buckhorn has often said he won’t be the “boyfriend” who breaks up the marriage between the Tampa Bay Rays and the City of St. Petersburg. He told WUSF, “I may be the pool guy though.”
2- Knowing Tampa’s ‘Options’ with the Rays
Buckhorn said he can’t interfere with the contract between St. Petersburg and the Rays. However, he also said it would be irresponsible of him and other Tampa Bay leaders if they were not prepared should there be a split. “I think we need to know what our options are. I think we need to know what Tampa, Tampa Bay could bring to the table financially.”
3- City Deficit of $30 Million Looms
When talking about the budget, Mayor Buckhorn started with praise for his predecessor, Pam Iorio, who left the city with a $120 million rainy day fund, compared to the $20 million fund she inherited. But, the municipalities dependency on property taxes for its main revenue source means that the city will again face a deficit in the coming budget year of $30 million. “The property taxes and the value of our real estate has diminished so much that the amount of money that is coming into us has dropped 20 to 30 percent,” Buckhorn said.
4- “Red-Light Running Is Epidemic”
Mayor Buckhorn said it was not the money but safety that motivated Tampa’s adoption of red-light cameras. He said he personally will not go through a green light without counting to three because he’s seen so many cars “bust” through the red lights. “Our rationale for putting those red-light cameras in is because red-light running in this city and this state is an epidemic and people are dying, dying as a result of people busting red lights.”
5- Tampa Will Hire 3,000 More Law Officers
Between the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Mayor Buckhorn estimates they can deploy about 1,000 law officers for the Republican National Convention in August. “We are having to hire 3,000 additional law enforcement personnel from all over the state to assist us with this.”
But no worries Tampa taxpayers, close to $30 million of the $50 million approved by congress for the Republican National Convention will pay for security including the hiring, housing and feeding of those additional officers.