Although Ed Turanchik is often referred to as a former Hilslborough County Commissioner, he's spent over a decade in the private sector, and his most recent turn as head of InTown Homes trying to develop affordable housing in West Tampa has definitely given him ideas on what he believes city government is currently doing wrong.
As the Tampa mayoral candidate unveiled a position paper Thursday afternoon, he wanted to emphasize that his ideas on how to run the city of Tampa come from his recent experiences trying to navigate what he calls Tampa's "byzantine development rules, that made doing the right thing, the hard thing."
"I think there's too much of an attitude in the city that puts the convenience of the city employee ahead of the convenience of the customer, and under my administration, that's not going to be the case."
In a program he puts forth called Houses to Homes, Turanchik is proposing that the city turn foreclosed homes into livable houses for those citizens who can't currently qualify to purchase homes because they're not FHA qualified. Turanchik says these homes need to be fixed up from their current conditions, and he wants to re-tool the city's Housing Department and Construction Services department, as well as work with banks, "to make it very easy for someone who makes $22,000 a year, to own a home where they can pay $500 a month in rent."
Turanchik refers to the plan as "Joe the Plumber goes back to work," saying that a $35,000 home can easily be upgrade to a $70,000 home by adding improvements like a new roof, adding a new A/C system, upgrading plumbing and the electrical system, and putting in new appliances among other things. "People who are out of work are going to go back to work, rebuilding and rehabbing the homes in the market that are dirt cheap."
Turanchik says he would "re-tool" existing down payment assistance programs, along with working with the lending, mortgage and construction industries to make this happen.
He also says he wants to exploit the legislation known as PACE(Property Assessed Clean Energy) that passed in the Legislature in 2010, but has yet to be implemented by any municipality in Florida, to make such homes more energy efficient.
And when it comes to running city government, Turanchik believes too many people at City Hall live an entitled life, and he's calling for an end to cost-of-living increases, as well an end to unlimited accruals of sick leave and vacation time. "The notion of anyone having a pay increase with our budgets is just out the door," he says firmly.
He also said that he believes city employees have "overly" generous compensation packages. "No one in the private sector gets unlimited accruals of vacation and sick leave. That's gotta be changed." He says he wants to do a full scale evaluation of the pay scales and benefit packages to make them more along the lines of what the private sector deals with. "It is public service," he reminds us.
Turanchik stunned Cl a few weeks ago after the transit tax in Hillsborough County was routed, saying that he didn't believe in the plan (he thought it was too expensive), and now he sounds like TBARTA officials who are talking up commuter rail using CSX tracks are the best way to build an affordable transportation system in Tampa. But he says he's not jumping on any bandwagon, claiming he made that pitch 19 years ago -June 13, 1991, to be exact- though he says he would do it now with hybrid technology. "In 2015, when high speed rail opens, we should have regional trains going from there (the hsr station in Tampa) go to Clearwater Beach, up to Brooksville, over to Land O'Lakes," he says.
Turanchik also blasted the city's development code, saying it s a one size fits all plan that simply doesn't work for the whole city. "South Tampa is different than West Tampa that's different than Tampa Heights and Seminole Heights. There's no reason to have a one size fits all, and it makes it more difficult to do business." He also says he wants to re-development land development codes. "I'm interested and I know what's wrong," he says.
"I'm not running for Mayor to go get a bunch of people to help tell me what to do. On day one, we know what to go do. And that's important, because people are out of work, they're suffering, they've had enough of studies, enough of consultants, let's have a vision that works."