CLEARWATER - Due to a settlement with BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 23 Gulf Coast counties, including Pinellas will receive a share of money through the Gulf Coast Consortium.
The Consortium, which includes representatives from each of the counties, formed in 2012 to meet requirements of the RESTORE Act and develop a State Expenditure Plan for economic and environmental recovery of the Gulf coast, according to information found at https://www.fl-counties.com/gulf-consortium.
RESTORE is an acronym for Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act.
CLEARWATER - To offer citizens more ways to voice their priorities for the Penny for Pinellas 1-percent sales tax, County government has launched an online survey to gather input about future project areas funded by the Penny.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County’s land use and transportation planning agency will be funding three local projects that make streets safer for all users.
The Forward Pinellas board voted unanimously March 8 to approve up to $1.1 million in funding for three complete streets projects: construction of sidewalks on 34th Street South in St. Petersburg, and preparing plans for Drew Street in Clearwater and 54th Avenue North in Lealman.
The projects are funded as part of Forward Pinellas’s new complete streets incentive program, which aims to assist local governments in planning, designing and constructing complete streets projects.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners adopted a countywide Stormwater Manual during its Feb. 21 meeting. The manual and associated ordinance go in effect on April 1.
The manual provides guidance for designing sites and infrastructure using newly adopted criteria and best management practices for water quality and flood protection.
The county is offering three one-day workshops to introduce the manual and instruct participants in its use during the development, design and permitting processes. The workshops include an overview and introduction to an industry program known as BMPTRAINS, which is the current Florida standard for modeling best management practices.
The cold night shelters for the homeless are opening for night guests Wednesday, March 15. Shelter guests are provided a hot evening meal, a warm and safe place to spend the night, and breakfast the following morning.
Most shelter open between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Clearwater opens at 5 p.m. First United Methodist Church of Tarpon Springs will open at 9:30 p.m. Sheltersl accept guests all night and close the following morning at approximately 6 a.m.
Shelters may open on additional nights. For more information, contact Cliff Smith at 727-893-7627 (office) or 727-698-1809 (cell).
CLEARWATER - The Pinellas County Tax Collector's office began receiving calls the morning of Tuesday, March 14, regarding an email that residents are receiving, which claims it is from their local Department of Motor Vehicles.
The email states that they have a red light camera traffic violation and they have 72 hours to pay the citation. Tax Collector team members quickly determined that this is a scam and are warning residents that receive this email to delete it immediately and to not click on any of the links.
"It is unconscionable that scammers pose as government agencies in an attempt to defraud the public," said Charles W. Thomas, Pinellas County Tax Collector, in a press release. "We are working with the State Attorney's Office, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and tax collectors across the state to warn residents of this scam and to pursue legal action against its creator(s)."
TIERRA VERDE - Pinellas County Utilities is scheduling a shutdown of the reclaimed water supply line on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. to customers in Tierra Verde to continue the replacement of a 16-inch reclaimed water supply line.
The replacement project is located at 31st Avenue and Pass-A-Grille Way, in St. Pete Beach.
The project was scheduled during normal non-watering hours according to South County watering restrictions, but will require two additional hours to complete the work. Tierra Verde reclaimed water customers should plan to complete their irrigation needs before 9 a.m. or irrigate after 5 p.m.
It was a night of upsets for some incumbents as 10 Pinellas County municipalities held elections March 14 - Gulfport, Indian Rocks Beach, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Shores, Safety Harbor, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, Tarpon Springs and Treasure Island.
Up for grabs were 11 commission seats, two councilmember seats and three mayoral positions.
According to information on the Supervisor of Elections website, votepinellas.com, 61,709 voters had met the deadline to participate in the elections. The majority, 13,193 cast mail ballots, and 4,463 visited a polling place, according to unofficial results posted just 30 minutes after the polls closed. Voter turnout was only 28.56 percent with all ballots except provisional ones counted as of 8 p.m.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County staff is continuing preparations on the fiscal year 2018 budget under less than optimal conditions.
As of March 7, the budget preparation process was six weeks behind schedule and, according to estimates from Business Technology Services Department, it will be another two weeks before data will be available in a form to provide the most efficient working conditions.
County Administrator Mark Woodard told County Commissioners March 7 that the Office of Management and Budget had no choice but to begin work now using temporary data. He advised the Commission that using temporary data increased the risk of errors and would likely cause the need to revisit decisions in the future.
The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Pinellas County was 4.8 percent for January - up from 4.2 percent in December and 4.6 percent in January 2016, according to the report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released March 13.
The same trend continued for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, with unemployment climbing from 4.5 percent in December to 5.1 percent in January, which is an increase from January 2016 with unemployment coming in at 4.8 percent.
The state of Florida reported an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent in January, which is an increase from January 2016 with unemployment coming in at 5 percent and December 2016 at 4.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for January was 5.1 percent, up from 4.5 percent in December, but down from 5.3 percent in January 2016.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County residents and guests who would like to order a bloody Mary or mimosa with their Sunday brunch will soon be able to do so, thanks to approval of a code amendment that abolishes the Blue Law.
Pinellas County commissioners unanimously approved a code change March 7 governing the closing hours of business establishments that deal in alcoholic beverages. The change provides uniform hours during which alcohol beverages may be sold countywide.
When four local governments joined forces to fund a pilot project for ferry service between the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa, no one really knew what to expect.
But so far, it seems that at least one official is pleased with the gains in ridership thus far.
“This pilot project is meant to test all aspects of ferry service in real life - prices, times and services - and I’m very pleased with the response so far,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in a March 2 press release. “Everyone I meet who has taken the ferry raves about it and asks if we can run it more often.”
On Nov. 7, Pinellas County voters will decide on a 10-year renewal of the Penny for Pinellas 1-percent sales tax, from 2020-2030. Before the referendum vote, the County Commission is seeking citizen input on the most important areas to invest future funds throughout the community.
The public is invited to provide input about the Penny at three open house meetings, which will run from 6-8 p.m. as follows:
- Wednesday, March 15: The Centre, 1500 16th St., Palm Harbor
LARGO - The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has received a $29,640 contract from the Florida Department of Transportation for a High Visibility Enforcement Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Project.
The purpose of the project is to educate and enforce safe pedestrian, bicyclist and driver behavior in designated hot spot areas in an effort to reduce traffic crashes and fatalities involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
The project began Monday, March 06, and runs through May 15.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with the Pinellas Park Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Gulfport Police Department, is hosting the fifth annual multi-jurisdictional Police Explorer Academy.
The academy offers youth insights into how law enforcement performs their duties and how law enforcement serves the community. The Academy will provide training in areas of communications, ethics, weapons familiarization and more.
The UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County is hosting the Sustainable Floridians certificate training course from March 25 to April 29. Classes will be held on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-noon at the Extension office, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo.
Each week, classes will feature different subject matter such as water and energy conservation, as well as consumerism and food systems. Participants will explore seven areas of sustainability and ways to implement them in daily life. They also will have the chance to engage with people who are passionate about these subjects and identify opportunities to create a personal action plan.
The course is $125 per participant and includes five face-to-face meetings, book rental fees, access to webinars and facility tours related to the course content. Participants will visit a water reclamation plant and a local solar contractor facility.
NORTH REDINGTON BEACH - Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard told members of the Barrier Island Governmental Council Feb. 22 that plans are underway to launch a huge public awareness campaign on the merits of the Penny for Pinellas.
The fourth edition of the Penny - an extension of 1-cent on the sales tax for 10 years - will be on the ballot for voter approval on Nov. 7. If approved, it will generate an estimated $2 billion for county projects from 2020 to Dec. 31, 2029.
“Our No. 1 doing thing for 2017 is to inform and educate the public on the importance of the Penny for Pinellas,” Woodard said. “This is the secret sauce source. We have a 27-year track record of positive results. We said we would do this and we did this. I think that’s very powerful as we leverage and educate the public.”
Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice was unanimously elected chairman of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program Feb. 17 at the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
"I am honored to serve as the chair of this board. We have great members who are committed to continuing the improvements made in the quality of Tampa Bay," said Justice in a press release.
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program set a goal of a return of at least 38,000 acres of seagrass in the bay. Strategies agreed to by the partner governments led to the current level of over 41,000 acres. This is the highest level of seagrass since 1950.
CLEARWATER - The head of the county’s Business Technology Services found himself on the hot seat Feb. 21, as problems with his department came to light that could affect the ability to efficiently prepare next year’s budget.
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who is also the chairman of the Business Technology Services Board, delivered the news, referring to a media report published May 2, 2016, about the misuse and sharing of passwords at Tampa International Airport.