More than just gathering data, we're trying to capture elements that make each community distinctive.
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio
Quality of Life
Mayor Pam Iorio has brought an honest, professional approach to managing a city government infamous for cronyism and good ol’ boy dealings. She has been slow to define a clear, broad vision for the city but is building momentum behind expanding mass transit. County government has been ineffective in managing runaway growth in the suburbs; the county commission is politically fractious. In recent years, the tax collector’s office has been a notable innovator in improving service to citizens.
Land-use decisions made years ago shut off public access to the downtown waterfront and have kept Tampa’s downtown moribund. But a transformation may be under way: A fine arts museum, a new history center, children’s museum and Rivewalk are opening along the waterfront, and a park has been redesigned to function as a public square.
Ratings agencies say city and county are sound financially, with low, manageable levels of debt. Bonds are generally high-rated.
» Biggest Strengths
Youth, energy, trend toward better government.
» Biggest Needs
Progressive business leadership, better transportation system, better growth management.
Ybor City is a major entertainment venue.
The NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning call Tampa home, and the Tampa Bay Rays play in nearby St. Petersburg. The Ybor City Historic District, formerly a cigar-making center and hub for the city’s Cuban community, now functions, in fits and starts, as an entertainment district. Much of Tampa’s nightlife takes place at the Channelside Entertainment Complex adjacent to downtown. The Tampa Convention Center, St. Pete Times Forum and the Florida Aquarium are all in the district. The city boasts a large number of fine restaurants, including three Florida Trend Golden Spoon Hall of Fame restaurants. The city’s Gasparilla Pirate Festival, held in January, draws close to 500,000 people. The city of Tampa operates more than 165 parks and beaches covering 2,286 acres; the county maintains 42 more in surrounding suburbs, covering 70,000 acres.
» First-Rate Attractions
• Busch Gardens amusement park
• Florida Aquarium
• Lowry Park Zoo
• Museum of Science and Industry
The Hillsborough County School District is rated “A” overall by the Florida Department of Education. More than 100 district schools received an “A” rating, with three “F” schools. More than 54% of the district’s students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
Percentage of students countywide performing at or above grade level in 2008:
» Air Quality
There were five days in 2007 in which air quality reached the unhealthy range and one day when it reached the very unhealthy range for sensitive groups.
|Superfund hazardous waste sites||72||23||52|
|Facilities that release air pollutants||393||251||0|
|Facilities reporting toxic releases||142||101||87|
|Facilities reporting hazardous waste activities||2,122||2,719||3,935|