Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

$33,000 lawnmower blows St. Pete council member Ed Montanari's mind

St. Petersburg Council member Ed Montanari

Times File Photo

St. Petersburg Council member Ed Montanari



St. Petersburg Council member Ed Montanari has a keen eye for items tucked away on the City Council's consent agenda, a document usually containing dozens of purchases, contracts, and other city business.

Consent agendas are usually approved in full; usually without discussion.

It's called consent, after all, because the items on it are not considered to be controversial.

That's not always the case. Montanari pulled a $225,000 item to pay for "influencers" and other marketing campaigns off of a consent agenda last month, sparking a political brushfire. Mayor Rick Kriseman's office hasn't brought that proposal back to council.

On Thursday, at a preview meeting for the council's April 20 meeting, Montanari had another bone to pick. This time, with three high-priced lawnmowers the city wants to purchase for cutting its golf course greens and raking sand traps.

The price tag? $82,398. 

"We keep them a long time," said Leisure Services Administrator Sherry McBee. In fact, the city is replacing lawnmowers that it has operated for 17 and 18 years respectively. 

Two Toro 3150Q Greensmasters will be used to mow putting surfaces (with super soft gentle caresses?) at $32,787 a pop. A Toro 3040 Sandpro will rake sand bunkers---apparently like a real pro---for $16,825. 

In the past, when city council members including Montanari and Karl Nurse have questioned the high prices for vehicles, city officials have said state purchasing rules and the virtual monopoly some specialized manufacturers enjoy can lead to high prices. 

But Montanari remained astounded.

"That's more expensive than a nice car," he said at the agenda review meeting. "They're eye-popping numbers."

Council member Charlie Gerdes quipped: "It's the AM-FM CD player option."

The purchase remained on consent. 

[Last modified: Friday, April 14, 2017 2:07pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours