St. Pete mayoral hopeful Kriseman unveils plan to identify cost savings

10/02/13 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: St. Petersburg, Bill Foster, Rick Kriseman, CitiStat, StPeteStat


St. Pete mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman props up a visual showing how much money other cities have saved from using models similar to the one he is proposing, StPeteStat.

photo by Janelle Irwin

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman hopes to save the city potentially millions of dollars by replacing the current performance management system with a more innovative model used in cities across the nation. Kriseman unveiled his plan Wednesday morning in the Historic Kenwood neighborhood.

“In its first 7 years, this type of management program saved the City of Baltimore $350 million. The City of Chicago saved $20 million in the first year they implemented CitiStat. In its first year of operation, SyraStat reportedly saved Syracuse, NY, $14 million. In one year, Louisville’s LouieStat led to $1.46 million in savings in overtime.”

Kriseman couldn’t specify just how much the city could save by using what he’s calling StPeteStat. But it would compile data on things like overtime, police response times and how long it took city staff to process permits and other processes. Kriseman says his plan based on a national model called CitiStat is a one up on the program the city already uses.

“With the Scorecard, the city sets its goals and on a yearly basis, they review to see whether those goals have been met. But what it doesn’t do is it doesn’t allow or provide for a timely response to the issues that have been identified.”

But Kriseman’s opponent, incumbent Mayor Bill Foster said during a phone interview after the press conference that the CitiStat has been around for a while. The program the city currently uses, Scorecard incorporates the Mayor’s Action Line where residents can use a cell phone to submit problems and even send a picture of, say, a pothole.

“He’s been out of touch for six years, he’s been out of City Hall. Bless his heart, he’s just out of touch with the improvements that we’ve made within City Hall, but he’ll figure out that we have a pretty efficient machine going.”

StPeteStat would also integrate resident input by phone or website. And he says the only real cost associated with switching over would be in staffing because the city already has a foundation with Scorecard that could easily be transitioned. In addition to the StPeteStat announcement, Kriseman elaborated on some of his former talking points including his push to return the St. Petersburg Police Department to a more community-based model and tweaking what has become a controversial policy.

“I will put an end to a chase policy that resulted in one of our officers traveling at 110 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour neighborhood, and then crashing.”

The former city council member and state legislator also wants to focus on furthering St. Pete’s green initiatives.

“In the near term, that means resolving negotiations with Duke Energy to switch out 30,000 of our street light bulbs to LED in order to save approximately $1.8 million. There are public safety implications here, as well. Improved street lighting is an effective tool for preventing crime.”

Part of Kriseman’s green focus would also include sea level rise mitigation and a renewed focus on the city’s port. His hope is to grow that area and others in West St. Pete through green tech jobs.

“In fact, with solar power-related jobs outpacing the rest of the U.S. Economy and solar energy consumption rapidly increasing, St. Petersburg has a decision to make. Are we going to be out front or are we going to be left behind? To me, this is easy. We are the Sunshine City…and as mayor, I will work to make us a magnet for clean energy jobs.”

Another area Kriseman has often expressed interest in is education. But as mayor, he would have little control over policies to improve city schools. Instead Kriseman says he wants to work with the school district to incorporate community service projects into classroom curriculum.

“There’s plenty of data that indicates that service activities increase attendance rates, decrease suspensions, improve GPAs, and enhance social consciousness. This needs to be a place where children learn, not just live.”

Kriseman spoke from a park surrounded by many recently re-habbed bungalow homes in Historic Kenwood. It’s nestled just north of Central Avenue. Over the past several years, it has seen more and more homeowners moving to the neighborhood and tackling revitalization projects. Kriseman said he wanted the location to stand as a reminder of how important it is to renew focus to neighborhood development.

“This is a neighborhood that has thrived despite what’s happened in the city. And not only have they thrived, but they demonstrate why neighborhoods have an impact on economic development because all you have to do is look at the Grand Central area. Grand Central is thriving because they’ve been supported by this neighborhood.”

But all of his proposals cost money. That’s why Kriseman would hire a full time staff member to find the funding.

“This individual will be directed to aggressively pursue both government and foundation grants. This is funding we are losing to other cities. We have to fight for our fair share.”

Kriseman is facing incumbent Mayor Bill Foster on November 5. A poll conducted by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9 last month has the race tight with Kriseman leading by 1 point. But in another September poll by St. Pete Polls, Kriseman had a commanding 10 point lead.

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