Bill Berger, director of the Office of Management and Budget, explains changes made to the proposed FY 2015 county budget during a July 22 work session.
CLEARWATER – Pinellas County Commissioners discussed the budget proposal presented July 15 by Interim County Administrator Mark Woodard during a July 22 work session and agreed to accept the millage rates as proposed.
Woodard and Bill Berger, director of the Office of Management and Budget, walked commissioners through a list of changes, including those made at a July 16 work session on homeless healthcare.
New funding requests added to the fiscal year 2015 budget include:
• $150,000, if needed, to “de-couple” the Veterans Service Office from Health and Community Services
• $500,000 for a dental health care program for the indigent in addition to the $436,000 already budgeted by HCS for dental care
• $70,000 for a dental sealant program
• $250,000 for the public defender’s jail diversion program
• $60,000 for the public defender’s SOAR program, which assists with applications for federal benefits
• $123,600 requested by the property appraiser
• $110,450 requested by the tax collector
• 433,170 requested by the supervisor of elections
• $98,900 requested by the clerk of the circuit court
• $315,000 to buy a land clearing mulching machine to forgo contracting for those services in the future
• $90,000 for international trade expansion
• $30,200 for the Homeless Leadership Board
• $75,000 for the Community Mobile Health Unit
• $200,670 for the Metropolitan Planning Organization
• $10.7 million for the sheriff’s office to implement a new pay plan for sworn personnel
• $2 million for Business Technology Services
Items requested but not funded include money for the arts, Lealman Community Services and cameras for the Pinellas Trail.
Commissioners affirmed their acceptance of millage rates as presented and canceled the July 31 budget workshop. The tentative millage rates will be forwarded to the property appraiser’s office to include in the Truth in Millage Notices that will be mailed to property owners on Aug. 22.
Tentative millage rates are as follows: Each mill represents $1 of tax assessment per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Countywide millage rates
• General Fund: 5.2755, unchanged from the current year.
• Health: 0.0622, unchanged
• Emergency Medical Services: 0.9158, unchanged
Dependent MSTU special districts
• Municipal Service Taxing Unit (unincorporated county): 2.0857, unchanged
• Public Library Cooperative (MSTU): 0.50, unchanged
• Palm Harbor Rec and Library District: 0.50, unchanged
• Feathersound Community Services District: 0.50, unchanged
• East Lake Library Services District: 0.25, unchanged
• East Lake Recreation Services District: 0.25, new assessment
Fire Protection Districts
• Belleair Bluffs: 1.7320, unchanged
• Clearwater: 3.2092, unchanged
• Dunedin: 2.9222, lowered from 3.5525 mils
• Gandy: 2.2977, unchanged
• Largo: 3.5609, unchanged
• Pinellas Park: 3.0163, unchanged
• Safety Harbor: 2.8118, unchanged
• Tarpon Springs: 2.3745, unchanged
• Seminole: 1.9581, unchanged
• Highpoint: 2.6700, unchanged
• Tierra Verde: 1.9118, unchanged
• South Pasadena: 0.9137
Public hearings on millage rates and budgets are scheduled on Sept. 11 and 23. The next budget year begins Oct. 1.
Al Bartolotta, Planning manager for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, presented a report about ongoing work on a countywide mobility plan during a July 22 work session.
According to Bartolotta’s report, a Mobility Plan Task Force formed in October 2009. It was comprised of planning staff from local governments, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Pinellas Planning Council and the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 7 Office, as well as citizen and business representatives.
The task force worked on several goals, including:
• Improved efficiency of local site plan review processes in the application of growth management requirements
• Consistency in the application of growth management requirements across jurisdictional boundaries
• Furthering of the mobility goals of the local governments
• Addressing the transportation impacts of development projects effectively and equitably
• Furthering the emphasis on multi-modal transportation embraced by local comprehensive plans as well as the MPO Long Range Transportation Plan
The Mobility Plan provides local governments with a new approach for managing growth as it relates to the transportation impacts of development projects, the report said. The plan revolves around the framework of the Transportation Impact Fee Ordinance, which has provided a countywide approach to the use of transportation impact fees since 1986.
The proposed plan replaces traditional concurrency management systems based on maintaining roadway level of service standards with a more flexible approach, and it promotes multi-modal transportation. Utilizing the ordinance would allow local governments to give developers credit for pre-existing uses, which would encourage redevelopment and re-use of existing structures.
The proposed Mobility Plan shifts the focus from roadway level of service to improving mobility with multi-modal transportation. It also enables local governments to provide a pay and go option for some development projects.
Next steps toward approval of the plan include the commission’s authorization to advertise. Then, in September or October, the Local Planning Agency will review and make its recommendation. Comprehensive Plan amendments will be sent to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in October or November. The last step will be adoption of the changes by the county commission.