Mayor: free city councilor parking would be vetoed

- A Tampa City Council plan to give themselves free parking anywhere in the city is being met by the threat of Mayor Bob Buckhorn's first veto.

"(The plan is) totally unnecessary," said Buckhorn.

Like many downtowns, parking can be a problem.

Driver Misty Feist described it to FOX 13 as a zoo, while driver Nick Murphy called it chaotic.

"I have had to drive around the blocks like three or four times," Murphy explained of his experience trying to find a parking spot.

City council members showed they feel the same way with its 5-1 vote - not to help frustrated residents - but to help themselves.

They've ordered city administration to draw up an ordinance that would let them park in any city lot or metered space for free.

Councilor Lisa Montelione told FOX 13 in a statement:

"The ability to park in any metered space and parking garage in the City while performing our official duties would be a convenience. This is especially true when we are called upon to meet dignitaries who take the time out of their busy schedules to visit the City of Tampa. As representatives of the City, if we are made late to meet these people due to the lack of available parking then the image of the City as a whole suffers. Since we do not have personal drivers as the Mayor does, we are forced to drive and park to any function which we are expected to represent the City."

That was met by drivers with derision.

"I would say that they have to pay and park just like everybody else and go through the frustration of it too," said Feist.

Councilman Guido Maniscalo voted in favor, he says, to keep an open dialogue, but will not support it if it comes for a final vote.

He says the spots councilors get at city hall are just a few blocks from almost every important building.

"I myself, always utilize it when I go downtown," said Maniscalo. "I park there and I walk."

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who gets a police escort and parking when he's on official business, points out that councilors already get reimbursed for parking, plus a car allowance of $70 in each biweekly paycheck.

He says he'd veto the measure if council passed it.

"This is a part time job here at city council," said Buckhorn. "There are a lot of folks, rightfully so, who would be upset by a part time employee getting free parking."

The mayor added, "if they don't like it, they can run for mayor."

The measure would need several readings, plus a final vote before it could be passed and sent to the mayor. 

It would then take five of seven votes to override a possible veto.

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