Pinellas Park Mayor Failed to Pay Water Bills on Time, Opponent Says
By ANNE LINDBERG, Tampa Bay Reporter
The mayor’s chronic failure to pay her water bills on time takes unfair advantage of her position and erodes residents’ trust in city government, Donna Saxer said.
PINELLAS PARK – Donna Saxer, who is running for Pinellas Park mayor, says the current mayor has been chronically past due on her water bills.
However, Mayor Sandy Bradbury’s water was never cut off even when the bill climbed as high as $821.01 on Sept. 26, 2017.
“This is not right,” Saxer said.
Bradbury conceded she had some problems getting the bills paid but blamed a combination of absent mindedness, bank glitches and city policy.
“It has not been any malice,” Bradbury said.
Saxer said she asked for public records showing the payment history and found that Bradbury first paid a delinquent penalty in November 2004. The mayor carried a balance due on her water bill from Aug. 25, 2005 until Dec. 12, 2017 when she made a full payment of $469.72.
Saxer said that payment was made after she requested the records.
The situation, Saxer said, smacks of unfairness and of a mayor that’s taking advantage of her position. That causes an erosion in trust for city government.
Pinellas Park is full of residents who work hard to better themselves. Some of them have trouble paying their water bills, but they’re not given the same break. If they don’t pay, Saxer said, their water is cut off. And, to get it back on, they must pay a re-connection fee.
Saxer added that city employees who have to handle the situation are also put in a bad spot.
“She never should have put any city employee in such a position and, as an adult, she knows right from wrong,” Saxer said. “What she did is irresponsible … on several levels.”
Bradbury conceded she has a couple of problems. One, she said, was “absent mindedness.” But that was compounded by banking issues. She had tried to set up a regular payment through her bank and thought that was being done. Once she found out the water bill was not being paid, she had to struggle with the bank to get the funds returned.
“It didn’t work out,” Bradbury said of her attempt to get payments made through her bank. “I had to fight with them to get the money back.”
Another issue, she said, was the city’s refusal to take debit card information over the phone. Now, Bradbury said, the city’s website has a way to send in payments.
“At least it’s online now,” Bradbury said.
Her failure to make timely payments, Bradbury said, “was never, ever any malice. … I tried taking care of it the way I thought it would work. It went to La La land.”
Bradbury is running for her fourth term as Pinellas Park mayor. She is facing Saxer, a retired Pinellas Park police officer who was one of three female officers who claimed the Police Department was guilty of sex bias. Saxer and another officer filed suit in 2001. Both suits were dismissed.
A candidate’s forum featuring Saxer and Bradbury is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday (Jan. 27) at Mainlands Unit 6, 3550 Mainlands Blvd. N in Pinellas Park.
The nonpartisan Pinellas Park election is March 13. The last day to register to vote in the Pinellas Park election is Feb. 12. Online voter registration is available.
Editor’s note: Tampa Bay Reporter received copies of Bradbury’s water bills through a public records request. To see them, CLICK HERE FOR WATER BILLS They are in the same order in which the city sent them.
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