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A click of Web site nips city's red tape

Graham Brink
March 5, 2004
St. Petersburg Times

TAMPA - Want to notify the city about an abandoned car or a problem with your water meter? Maybe you want to know why you heard all those sirens in your neighborhood or retrieve an accident report.

Now, all Tampa residents have to do is go to the city's new online customer service center at www.TampaGov.net

The addition to the city's Web site allows residents to alert officials to problems in their neighborhood. It also allows residents to pay parking tickets and even request and pay for some building permits without leaving their homes.

"We want the customer, our residents, to get their complaints resolved efficiently," said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. "People are busy. They don't always have time to sift through a city directory to get to the department they need to speak to."

The customer service center went online Thursday after several months of development. It is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report nonemergency concerns or request services.

Residents can track the progress of their inquiries. For instance, if someone complains about a junked vehicle sitting in a neighbor's front yard, the resident can access the site later to see who is handling the complaint and what has been done.

The site has six main categories:

Citizen Action Request for reporting accumulated trash, building violations, etc.

TampaGov Services, which provides a list of services, frequently asked questions and department lists.

Opinion or Question for the code enforcement, parks, police or other departments.

Payment of Purchase for paying tickets, buying monthly parking permits, etc.

Form or Application for construction services, city jobs or for starting utility services.

Self Service Research for looking at crime activity maps, fire rescue calls and police calls, among other things.

Iorio said the center will increase the accountability of city government, one of her goals when she was elected last year.

"This should be a very direct and efficient way for residents to get help from their city," Iorio said. "And it leaves a trail that allows us and residents to make sure inquiries are being handled."

- Graham Brink can be reached at 226-3365 or brink@sptimes.com

Copyright St. Petersburg Times 2003