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County officials have a new marketing tool to promote the benefits of Penny for Pinellas - Hurricane Irma.

A referendum vote for another 10 years of Penny for Pinellas is scheduled on Nov. 7. At stake is $2 billion in projected revenue that will be divided between the county and its municipalities. The current Penny expires Dec. 31, 2019.

An oft-used slogan for the campaign to encourage voters to renew the 1-cent infrastructure surtax has been “building a better Pinellas.” After Irma, officials are now touting the fact that the tax has built a “safer Pinellas.”
 ... Read More 
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CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard sent a report to commissioners Monday morning informing them of the status of debris collection in unincorporated areas.

“We are actively engaged and making progress toward removing storm related debris from the public rights of way and other areas within the unincorporated area. We are also providing assistance to our municipal partners as they also work to remove debris within their jurisdictions,” Woodard told commissioners.
 ... Read More 
Sunday, September 24
The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming Nov. 7 elections is Oct. 10. The election includes a countywide referendum to extend Penny for Pinellas. Municipal elections are scheduled in Clearwater, Dunedin, Seminole and St. Petersburg.

All registered voters will get to choose whether they are for or against continuing the levy of a 1-cent local infrastructure sales surtax for another 10 years (2020-2030). The money finances county and municipal projects and has been in effect since 1990. The current penny expires

The money is used to build roads and bridges; for flood and sewer spill prevention; and improvements to water quality. It pays for construction of trails, parks and environmental preservation. Penny money builds public safety facilities, hurricane shelters, and pays for police and fire vehicles. It buys technology and land for affordable housing. Starting in 2020, a portion would go toward capital projects supporting economic development.
 ... Read More 
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Former Pinellas County resident Mary Lou Baker, a champion for women’s rights, is one of the three newest members of the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.

Created by state statute in 1982, the hall of fame honors women who have made significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and for all citizens in the state.

The two other names on the list announced recently by Gov. Rick Scott are Kathleen “Scotty” Robertson Culp and Katherine Fernandez Rundle. The Florida Commission on the Status of Women selected the three inductees from a group of 10 nominees.
 ... Read More 
ST. PETERSBURG - The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority received a $1 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program to add more zero-emission buses to its fleet.

“PSTA has earned this very competitive grant through its commitment to adding safer, cleaner technologies to its fleet,” said U.S Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg. “I am proud to support this initiative and be a witness to history as Pinellas County rolls out its first electric buses next year - moving people and innovation forward.”

The $1 million grant will be used to execute the second phase of the agency’s zero-emission vehicle program. The funds will pay for the expansion of the agency’s electric bus fleet and install on-route charging infrastructure.
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TALLAHASSEE - Financial accuracy is just one reason Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas earned the Legacy Award for Financial Operations, one of the most significant honors bestowed by the Florida Tax Collectors Association.

Thomas was selected by a five-person judging panel made up of government financial executives from throughout Florida. The criteria for the Legacy Award include a perfect annual audit report as well as evidence of technological innovations, customer focus, and budgeting skills.

This is the sixth consecutive year the Pinellas County Tax Collector's Office won the Legacy Award and the first year with Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas at the helm. Thomas served as Deputy Tax Collector for 16 years before being sworn in as Tax Collector in January 2017. In addition to the Legacy Award, the office also received the 2013 Governor's Sterling Award and the 2016 Governor's Sterling Sustained Excellence Award for performance excellence.
 ... Read More 
Friday, September 22
Following Hurricane Irma, coordinated debris collection continues for residents in unincorporated Pinellas County. Debris contractors began storm debris collection from county rights-of-way on Monday.

Crews are currently working on the following zones: INON03; INON05; INON06; INON07; INON08; INSW02; INSW03; INSE05; INSE06; INSE07; INSE08; INSE09. On Saturday, Sept. 23, the crews will be adding zones: INSW05; INSW06; INSW07; INSE10.

Residents can view the Debris Collection Routes Map at http:­//arc­g.is/­2fe9N­Ei.
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Monday, September 18
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioners gave unanimous approval to tentative budgets and millage rates during a first public hearing Sept. 14. The second and final hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The public hearing portion of the meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the fifth floor Assembly Room of the Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater.

The total budget for fiscal year 2018 is just over $2.25 billion, which is a $66 million, or 3 percent, more than the current year. Operating expenses are up 7.5 percent and represent $123 million of the total. The general fund budget is up 3.4 percent or 22.8 million.
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Pinellas County’s unemployment rate for August was 3.7 percent - down from 3.8 percent in July and 4.5 percent in August 2016, according to the Sept. 15 report from the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The labor force declined slightly, going from 499,936 in July to 499,329 in August. In August 2016, the labor force was 484,688 with 21,926 unemployed. In August this year, 18,493 were unemployed compared to 19,126 in July.

Unemployment numbers in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Area followed the same trend, coming in at 4 percent in August compared to 4.1 percent in July and 4.8 percent in August 2016.
 ... Read More 
As Pinellas County Public Works crews finish clearing storm debris from roads, a second phase of recovery will soon begin to collect residential storm debris in unincorporated Pinellas.

Debris contractors will begin storm debris collection from rights of way on Monday, giving residents returning home over the next few days enough time to collect and place their storm debris piles in their nearest right of way.

Residents should place their debris in sorted piles at the public right-of-way for curbside collection by debris crews. Debris will be collected and taken to a temporary storage site to ultimately be recycled or disposed of.
 ... Read More 
The Supervisor of Elections Office announced the tentative schedule to mail ballots for the Nov. 7, 2017 county referendum and municipal general elections: 

- Sept. 22 - Mail ballots to absent military and overseas voters who have requested ballots to date. State law requires ballots for absent military and overseas voters to be mailed at least 45 days prior to an election.

- Oct. 3 - Mail ballots to domestic voters who have requested ballots to date. State law requires domestic ballots to be mailed between 35 and 28 days prior to an election.
 ... Read More 
CLEARWATER - Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, chair of the Pinellas County Legislative

Delegation, announces the first regular public hearing for the upcoming 2018 Legislative Session on Monday, Sept. 25, 9 a.m. to noon, at St. Petersburg College, Clearwater Campus, at the Arts Auditorium, 2465 Drew Street, Clearwater.

The meeting will include introduction of proposed local bills, presentations focusing on economic development and upcoming legislative priorities, as well as time to hear from local organizations and agencies.
 ... Read More 
Saturday, September 16
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CLEARWATER - In recent years, tropical weather has not been kind to Pinellas County’s beaches. But it seems Hurricane Irma was the exception with no major damage reported thus far.

The county’s Coastal Management staff inspected about 30 beach locations Wednesday, Sept. 13, between Sand Key Park in Clearwater and Pass-a-Grille Beach in St. Pete Beach, said Andy Squires, section manager for Coastal Resources.

“From our visual observations, overall it appeared the upper beach and dune systems remained intact with very little erosion evident,” he said.
 ... Read More 
Friday, September 15
As Pinellas County Public Works crews finish clearing storm debris from roads, a second phase of recovery will soon begin to collect residential storm debris in unincorporated Pinellas.

Debris contractors will begin storm debris collection from rights of way on Monday, giving residents returning home over the next few days enough time to collect and place their storm debris piles in their nearest right of way.

Residents should place their debris in sorted piles at the public right-of-way for curbside collection by debris crews. Debris will be collected and taken to a temporary storage site to ultimately be recycled or disposed of.
 ... Read More 
CLEARWATER - The next time fresh sand is pumped onto the beaches of Pinellas County, residents can thank the county’s tourist development tax for a portion of it.

Tim Ramsberger, chief operating officer of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, told members of the Barrier Islands Governmental Council Aug. 29 that 5 percent of the revenue collected from the tax each year goes into a fund to help pay for beach nourishment.

Of the nearly $54 million taken in through the bed tax in the past 12 months, that amounts to about $2.7 million per year. The fund continues to grow until the money is necessary for a nourishment project.
 ... Read More 
Sunday, September 10
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LARGO - The biggest message from the 11:30 a.m. Sunday press briefing from Pinellas County officials is to stay in place after Irma passes.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said one of the first actions that will be taken by law enforcement, besides assisting other first responders with immediate search and rescue needs, will be to seal the county’s borders.

No one will be allowed in except people who are coming to help with the aftermath of the storm.

“Don’t try to rush back,” Gualtieri said, adding that anyone that does try to get back into the county would be turned back or be stuck at the checkpoint.
 ... Read More 
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
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