ST. PETE BEACH - It won’t happen any time soon but the first step toward upgrades to Egan Park has gotten the green light.
St. Pete Beach City commissioners voted unanimously July 22 to pay Land and Water Engineering Science $43,741 for design engineering for the project.
The project, which is estimated to cost just under $500,000 once it is complete, will be done in three phases over three budget years. But the city had to move quickly on the engineering phase or possibly lose future grant money Public Services Director Steve Hallock said he was counting on.
TREASURE ISLAND - A deal by Mark Hubbard to take over two beach cabana rental businesses was approved unanimously July 15 by Treasure Island commissioners.
Hubbard is purchasing Cabana Dreams and TI Cabanas from Anthony Hutto and Jon Quinn. Commissioners gave the thumbs up for the transfer of the two nonexclusive license agreements to Hubbard with stipulations.
Hubbard will be allowed to rent cabanas, chairs, kayaks, paddle boards and nonmotorized bicycles from 99th Avenue behind the Island Inn Resort to 104th Avenue. He will be permitted three sandwich boards and two kiosk pop-up tents for concession operations on the beach.
MADEIRA BEACH - Not often do people cheer a tax increase. But a crowd of Madeira Beach residents showed up at a city hall budget meeting on July 16 to do just that.
Backed by the residents’ comments and applause, the city commission agreed to raise the millage rate from 1.79 mils, where it has been since 2007, to 1.99. The tax rate had been over 2.0 during the 1990s and until 2007, City Manager Shane Crawford pointed out. The increase is the first in 30 years, he said.
The rate hike decision came after the resident comment section of the meeting, where speaker after speaker spoke positively of the city’s recent accomplishments.
REDINGTON BEACH - The town’s financial coffers are benefiting from higher property values, but Redington Beach Commissioners are taking a conservative approach in setting the tax rate for the next fiscal year.
Commissioners by consensus agreed to certify a tentative tax rate of 1.94 mills to the Pinellas County Property Tax Collector’s Office for the next fiscal year. That figure is the same as this year’s millage rate, which is equal to $1.94 for every $1,000 of assessed property values.
Town officials expect to have $122,000 in surplus in their $970,502 budget for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
TREASURE ISLAND - A national tournament featuring a fast-paced cross between rugby and football could be coming to the beach in Treasure Island.
Kevin Smith, director of sports for Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater, asked city commissioners July 17 for approval to apply to host the USA Beach Ultimate National Championship next spring. If approved, it would be held on Treasure Island beach behind the Bilmar Beach Resort and the Thunderbird Beach Resort, May 1-2, 2015.
The event would feature 40 teams of 10 players each in five divisions. There would be a minimum of 12 fields, 75 meters long by 25 meters wide each, which would be either roped or coned off. The fields would be located between 102nd and 112th avenues.
ST. PETE BEACH - City commissioners voted unanimously July 8 to grant a variance to the Plaza Beach Resort, 4506 Gulf Blvd., which begins the process for the 63-year-old facility to be redeveloped as a condo hotel.
After a discussion that lasted more than 90 minutes, St. Pete Beach commissioners agreed to a request by Plaza Beach General Manager Robert Czyszczon to allow the permitted 750 square feet per temporary lodging unit to be expanded to 900 square feet.
ST. PETE BEACH - The operators of two controversial off-street parking lots were given permission to continue operation for another six months under a temporary use permit and the owner of a third parking lot has agreed to apply for conditional use permit.
St. Pete Beach City Commissioners voted unanimously July 8 to temporarily extend parking privileges to Sungold LLC at 3855 Gulf Blvd., and Grand Plaza Resorts at 5030 Gulf Blvd., through Jan. 30, 2015.
TREASURE ISLAND - City Manager Reid Silverboard has proposed a $21.22 million budget for fiscal 2015 that includes a small millage increase to provide additional funding for maintenance of the causeway bridges.
If approved, the proposed .1 mill increase would provide an additional $134,805 that would be set aside for bridge maintenance. It would increase the total for bridge maintenance to .2 mill, producing an estimated total of $259,605 annually.
“These bridges require yearly maintenance and periodically major maintenance in order to protect the investment and ensure proper operation,” said Silverboard in a written report on the proposed budget. “The set-aside money is not proposed to be used for everyday operation and maintenance but rather as a supplemental funding for larger projects, such as replacement of the bridge lighting system, refurbishment of the electronics, hydraulic, mechanical components of the bascule bridge, painting and repairs to the bridge structure and, of course, the eventual replacement of the bridge.”
REDINGTON SHORES - For the fifth straight year, the town’s millage rate will remain unchanged at 2.0. The rate is one of the lowest in Pinellas County, currently ranking seventh among the county’s 24 municipalities.
A vote to leave the millage (ad valorem tax) rate as is by the town commission at their July 9 regular meeting means it cannot be raised, but could be lowered at coming budget hearings.
The millage rate action followed a positive financial report by the town’s auditor. Richard Cristini of Davidson Jamieson and Cristini proclaimed Redington Shores to be in “very, very good” financial shape. Cristini said, “This town is quite strong financially,” which he attributed to fiscal conservatism and “taking advantage of opportunities when they come up.”