Westshore canal residents to vote on dredging

05/15/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The Tampa City Council today approved a proposal to hold a referendum for selected citizens on dredging canals in the Westshore area later this year.

The issue of cleaning up the canals in the Westshore and Davis Islands area has been an ongoing issue for years, but in 2005, city officials began meeting with local residents to come up with a plan. At that time, the conservative estimate to clean up some of those canals was estimated around $6 to $7 million dollars, which would cost residents around $8,000 a piece, or $600 per year in taxes over two decades.

Members of the public had plenty to say on the subject. Christine Acosta said that a great percentage of canal front owners wanted to move forward with the city.

Betty Garcia lives on the River Dundee. She said the issue was more than just a right to vote.

Lee Schma is against the referendum. Representing the Sunset Park Home Owner Association, She called for the money already acquired for the project - $1.3 million dollars in federal funds and a matching million dollars from the city – be spent on the original five canals chosen to be dredged.

Frank Gassler said he’d prefer the city to pay for the cleanup. But he said today was simply about approving a voting procedure.

Marlon Anderson, president of the Sunset Park Area Homeowners Association, questioned the use of $2.3 million dollars already in the bank for the watercanals, saying it will probably go for other items.

Ellie Montague said it was illegal to permit a tax to assess even one person against their will.

City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern cautioned those advocating for the referendum to be placed on the ballot that there is no guarantee that the $8,000 dollar figure spoken of as a ceiling in being taxed is not set in stone.

The measure must be approved by a 60 percent margin, on a per canal basis.

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