Tampa City Council favors TECO deal

11/14/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Last week, the Tampa City Council rejected a proposed 25-year franchise agreement with Tampa Electric Co. Several council members said TECO’s reluctance to include the use of alternative fuels in its portfolio was among the factors in their rejecting the proposed pact.

But last night, one Councilman’s about face on the issue, reversed the vote.

The difference was Councilman Joseph Caetano, who made a motion to reconsider the matter so he could change his no vote to yes.

That angered City Councilman John Dingfelder, who said that dozens of people who attended last week’s meeting weren’t aware there would be a second vote on it.

But Councilman Charlie Miranda said there was nothing secret about last night’s meeting.

Cataeno said he was offended by the charge that he was promulgating a secret vote. Dingfelder apologized, but said just because Catano, could switch his vote and agree to the electricity deal, he shouldn’t.

The city’s last franchise agreement with TECO expired years ago, but the city and the utility have failed to come to terms.

Despite his no vote a week ago, Cateano said he’s heard little on why the city shouldn’t made a franchise agreement.

Council member Mary Mulhern agreed with Cataeno that the city has spent a lot of money on negotiations, but says there’s little to show for that. And Mulhern said the feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly against renewing the TECO franchise.

Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena said the negotiations have been exclusively between Mayor Pam Iorio, TECO and the Council, and the public has been shut out.

City Attorney Chip Fletcher was asked by Councilman Dingfelder could either negotiate a side agreement or add something to the working agreement regarding renewable fuels.

Fletcher said TECO could voluntarily adding something.

The council voted 4-3 to support the 25 year agreement with TECO, with Saul-Sena, Mulhern and Dingfelder dissenting.

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