City Council debates use of foreclosure revenue

11/20/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Tampa City Council officials were expected today to rubberstamp a proposal by Mayor Pam Iorio that will allow the city to receive $13.6 million to address the foreclosure crisis.

But one City Councilman’s objections led to a much longer debate this morning at Council chambers.

Cindy Miller is director of the Growth Management and Development Services for the city of Tampa. She says the plan is to purchase or refurbish approximately 110 properties, with a concentration of homes in the Sulpher Springs and East Tampa.

The deadline for the city to send back the grant application is Dec. 1. But with Thanksgiving next week, Mayor Iorio has accelerated the deadline; she wants the City Council to sign off the plan by Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Councilman John Dingfelder said the Council has a role in making policy, and felt that they had been shut out. Specifically, Dingfelder had issues with how the $13.6 million would be spent. Dingfelder said he had a policy problem with that, because he believed that the city could take $7.2 million dollars and buy properties directly. He said that’s what he believed was Congress’ original intent when they passed the legislation earlier this year.

Earlier, Peter Murphy, a broker with Home Encounter, a local Estate Consultancy group, addressed the Council. He said the city’s plan for purchasing and bulldozing homes was too modest.

Later Councilman Charlie Miranda said government money cannot fix the huge problem with foreclosures.

The Council voted to approve the grant, but also agreed to an amendment to thoroughly review the plan at a workshop in January.

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