As families gather to celebrate the holidays and reflect on a year of successes and challenges, we wanted to do the same with our St. Petersburg Family. Here’s an overview of some of the Kriseman Administration’s accomplishments this past year.
Coming in to office, there were a number of challenges facing the city: from a stalled Pier process to a stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays. From public amenities to public safety, our team of 2,700 has answered our call to create a city of opportunity in which every corner of our community thrives. This makes us proud and paves the way for continued growth and progress.
We hit the ground running, in the first days re-opening the Pier to pedestrian traffic; reaching an historic agreement with Pinellas County regarding funding and deployment of our emergency medical services and tightening our Police Department’s high-speed pursuit policy.
Today, our process for the Pier has brought together all sides of a contentious issue, and one of the first acts of 2015 will be a public, non-binding vote on recently submitted Pier designs. We are moving forward with plans to begin new Pier construction by 2017. Police Chief Anthony Holloway is building trust and relationships in our community with Park, Walk & Talk and a fiscally responsible budget is moving us forward with resources that reflect our priorities.
For example, we invested more than $350,000 additional in housing programs; $175,000 of which supports a neighborhood grant program to empower St. Pete’s people to create the change they wish to see. We’ve invested $375,000 in youth employment and early childhood education resources and hired three new Codes Compliance officers to ensure the highest standards across our city. In total, you will find more than $825,000 in new investments for our Neighborhood Affairs Administration.
Over the course of 2014, we’ve begun to change the culture of our city, truly making strides that result in increased opportunity for everyone who calls St. Petersburg home. We have “banned the box” on city employment applications which means felons will no longer have to declare their criminal history to apply for a job. Declaration of criminal background is only required for positions with relevant responsibility. This means more people in our community can consider working for the city as they work to rebuild their lives.
We also raised the minimum wage for city employees to $12.50 an hour. This is an important change that reflects our commitment to every member of our team earning a living wage that provides for his or her family.
Just this month, our administration announced a parental leave policy that applies to mothers and fathers. Now new parents will receive six weeks of paid leave while they bond with their children and focus on what matters most – family. We hope employers across the city follow all of these examples and increase opportunity in all the ways they are able.
In other important work we are raising the profile of our city on the national and international stage with trips to the White House, Chile and several other stops to develop important initiatives and policies such as an apprenticeship academy, education and international trade.
Our administration has also had a heavy focus on education.
In September, in conjunction with the St. Pete’s Promise Education Initiative, we launched the Mayor’s Service Learning Challenge for St. Petersburg-area public schools. Through this program, three schools (Lealman, 74th Street Elementary School and Gibbs High School) received start-up funding from the Pinellas Education Foundation for student-led service learning projects. In addition, through a partnership with Eckerd College, a pilot service-learning project at St. Petersburg High School is planned to launch during the second semester of the 2014 academic year.
Mayor Kriseman has refocused Mayor’s Mentors and More, the City’s partnership with the Pinellas Education Foundation and Pinellas County Schools. St. Pete’s Promise is connecting the business community with schools to increase our community’s investment of human capital and other resources in our children.
During the campaign and throughout our first year, we pledged to do all we could to create a business-friendly economy that does as much for local business as it does for big national retailers. We are particularly proud of the strides we’ve been able to make in this area. The Mayors Small Business Tours have taken us to more than 80 local businesses, in every corner of our community, where we’ve had the chance to connect with proprietors and entrepreneurs to better understand how the City can support their success. Our pledge is clear, we want our local businesses to not only survive, but to thrive – and policy changes have already happened that are making things easier for our local merchants.
Other highlights include partnerships that are working to transform our community, one act at a time. Some of these include:
Work with the 2020 Plan to create more than 2,000 jobs in the next five years
Development of a Southside Community Redevelopment Plan (CRA), which charts the long-term course for the future of South St. Petersburg
Universal Curbside Recycling
Kicked off Deuces Live! Sunday Market
Opened two City Hall satellite offices at Enoch Davis Center and Childs Park YMCA
Funding poverty eradication programs, such as “Write Field,” and “Read to Me.”
It has been an extraordinary year working for and with the people of the Sunshine City. We are well on our way to realizing our vision of St. Petersburg standing as a city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play. With all that has been accomplished, we know there is much more to be done. Most importantly, we know we will only truly accomplish all that’s possible if we work with the great people who comprise our great city. Thanks for all you have done and will continue to do to ensure that sun shines here!