New mayor want to revive program funding, offers mini-grants
Mayor Rick Kriseman campaigned heavily on strengthening St. Petersburg neighborhoods, in part by restarting the Neighborhood Partnership Grants program.
This is a matching grant program run by the city that allows organizations or groups to apply for up to $25,000 to fund specific improvement projects such as decorative lighting, neighborhood green spaces, playgrounds and public art. Grant proposals for playgrounds may be submitted for up to $35,000.
Because it's a matching grant, applicants must demonstrate that they can match or exceed the requested grant funds. Matches may be provided as any combination of cash, volunteer labor, donated supplies, professional services or maintenance.
The budget for the program was about $400,000 in 2011, but that fell to around $280,000 in 2012. In 2013, then-Mayor Bill Foster eliminated the program entirely.
Kriseman, who was running for mayor at the time, said at a budget hearing that he supported a $250,000 increase in neighborhood improvement funding. But funding remained at zero for 2014.
Kriseman will request $190,000 for the program in fiscal year 2015, which begins in October, said Ben Kirby, the city's communications director. The mayor is scheduled to send his official request to council by July 1, which will have until Sept. 18 to vote on it.
In the interim, Kirby said, the administration has set up $500 mini-grants to help neighborhoods build their communities. The grants can be used for community gardens, neighborhood picnics, cleanups and other events. The money for that program came from a $15,000 grant from Duke Energy, and the administration is asking Duke for another $15,000 to keep it going.
It is clear Kriseman plans to expand funding for the Neighborhood Partnership Grants program, but because the budget has not been formally submitted or approved by the council, we rate this promise In the Works.
StPete.org, Fiscal Year 2014 city budget Section I: Leisure & Community Services Administration, accessed June 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "Neighborhood partnership grant applications ready," May 23, 2007
Interview with Benjamin Kirby, mayor's communications director, June 9-12, 2014