BCC pushes for opportunity to renegotiate Cross Bay Ferry agreement

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to renegotiate an interlocal agreement between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa for operation of the Cross Bay ferry to ensure the program is making the best use of public dollars to provide access across Tampa Bay.

Specifically, the Commission voted to delegate authority to County Administrator Barry Burton to issue a letter terminating the current interlocal agreement, which is the only legal way to reopen negotiations for the agreement as outlined when the current contract was approved in September 2021.

Any of the governments in the interlocal agreement must provide written notice of termination by June 1, 2022, in order to change terms in the agreement or renegotiate a new agreement by August 15 in time for the ferry service to continue next fall.

Commissioners also directed the county administrator to arrange for a meeting with the three other interlocal agreement partners as soon as possible to ensure a new agreement is reached promptly.

“We received a lot of emails from people that support the ferry. We support the ferry too – that’s not the question. The questions are the terms and the transparency of the information provided in the agreement,” County Administrator Barry Burton said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners expressed the need to get more updated data directly from the ferry operator, HMS Ferries, and have a more active role in finding long-term solutions for supporting existing ferry service and expanding it in the future, including identifying alternative funding sources. 

See the full discussion here.