District 7 Tampa City Council member and New Tampa resident Luis Viera was happy that so much of the City of Tampa’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget benefits our area.

The City of Tampa’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget includes money for things like fire stations and better roads, but the process, for a change, didn’t involve having to put out any proverbial fires nor did it even encounter any bumps in the road.

Instead, it was smooth sailing, as the Tampa City Council unanimously approved Mayor Jane Castor’s $1.8-billion budget on Sept. 28.

There was nothing but praise and back slapping as the budget passed its final challenge, and few Council members were happier than District 7’s Luis Viera, whose district includes the city portions of New Tampa.

Not only did Viera help secure millions for fire rescue overhauls in the North Tampa area of his district, but there were also millions more included for a number of New Tampa projects, like a future Tampa Fire Rescue (TFR) Station (No. 24) in K-Bar Ranch and $1.6 million for the completion of the New Tampa Inclusive Playground, as well as almost $3-million for the repaving of Tampa Palms Blvd. (see story on pg. 4).

“I want to highlight that this is a really historic public safety budget,” Viera said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people, and they tell me they have never seen a budget like this.”

While maintaining high standards of public safety is arguably the most important task of City Council members, issues related to fire rescue reached a boiling point late last year, when a report released by the International Association of Fire Fighters showed major issues with the city’s fire rescue network.

While Fire Station No. 13, located near Busch Gardens and the busiest station in Tampa, also is located in Viera’s district and was of the greatest concern, the four Tampa Fire Rescue (TFR) stations currently located in New Tampa are all among the six with the slowest response times in the City.

New Tampa’s four TFR stations include: No. 20 (located on Bruce D. Downs Blvd. in Tampa Palms), Nos. 21 and 22 (both located along Cross Creek Blvd.), and No. 23, which opened in 2019 on Trout Creek Ln., just south of County Line Rd.

The budget includes about $5 million to fix the issues in North and New Tampa. Roughly $3.5 million will go towards building and staffing Station No. 25, a few miles west of the beleaguered Station 13.

The rest will go towards Station No. 21 upgrades ($160,000), a heavy duty rescue vehicle for 21 ($810,000) and $650,000 towards the design and planning of a new station, No. 24, in the K-Bar Ranch area.

“I know the people of District 7 are very, very thankful to the Mayor and the Council for their collaborative leadership,” Viera said at the Sept. 28 Council meeting. “That means millions of dollars for North Tampa. And a brand new fire station, that is a major thing….as well as millions for New Tampa which has 4 of 6 longest response times in the City of Tampa.” 

The new budget went into effect at the start of Fiscal Year 2022 on Oct. 1.

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