Tampa City Council approves TECO franchise

12/04/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The ongoing drama regarding a 25-year franchise agreement between the city of Tampa and Tampa Electric Co. ended today, with the council voting 4-3 to approve the agreement.

The city has gone without an agreement for 3-1/2 years, but finally approved a contract last month.

But a week later rejected it when Council Member Joseph Caetano changed his vote, saying the city had already spent too much time and money negotiating the deal.

Thomas Scott asked City Attorney Chip Fletcher if the deal could be changed if the incoming Obama administration creates new mandates. Asked by Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena, a fierce critic of the agreement without provisions for renewable energy, if such provisions would be legal, Fletcher said he’d prefer to create two separate agreements.

That prompted Councilman John Dingfelder to again call for what critics of the deal wanted immediately. A delay of another six months.

Public comment was substantial – and nearly all in favor of delaying the franchise agreement for the time being.

Scott Lavelle works at Tampa General Hospital. Dressed in scrubs, he said he was vehemently opposed to the contract .

Not everybody was against the agreement. Andrea Graham is with tStageworks Theatre. She said that her organization is in partnership with TECO on a play promoting alternative energy being performed currently in Tampa public schools.

Citizen Richard Formica called the Council’s decision a legacy vote.

Donald Mehlmen from Physicians for Social Responsibility appealed to the Council members not to delay the decision.

TECO”S Tom Hernandez told Council members he wasn’t interested in adding any renewable energy provisions in the franchise agreement.

Council members Gwen Miller, Charlie Miranda, Thomas Scott and Joseph Catano voted for the agreement. John Dingfelder, Linda Saul-Sena and Mary Mulhern opposed it.

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Mitch - the city council orginally rejected the franchise agreement then approved it the following week. Janet Zink got it wrong in Thursday's Times, even though she had gotten it right last month. --------- Tampa now favors 25-year deal with electric company By Janet Zink, Times staff writer In print: Friday, November 14, 2008 TAMPA — One week after rejecting it, the City Council on Thursday voted in favor of a 25-year agreement with Tampa Electric Co. to determine how much the utility has to pay for the privilege of using the city's rights of way for power lines. http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/article902770.ece