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Madeira Beach finances in good shape
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MADEIRA BEACH – After receiving an award for “excellence in financial reporting,” finance director Vincent Tenaglia gave an upbeat report on Madeira Beach’s financial record over the past year.

Speaking at the Jan. 21 City Commission meeting, Tenaglia declared each of the city’s funds to be “healthy.” General fund revenues exceeded expenses by $120,000, he said. The sanitation fund fared even better, with revenues topping costs by $250,000.

The stormwater fund balance is down to $32,000, but that is due to the large project underway to fix Madeira Beach’s flooding problems, Tenaglia said. The marina had its best year since 2007, with revenues exceeding expenses by $130,000.

Archibald Park did not fare as well, reflecting the park’s closure for two months for renovations. But the improvements should pay off over the coming year, Tenaglia said. A new concession agreement will bring in an extra $60,000, he said.

“(Archibald Park) will be in really good shape (financially) by October,” he said.

Parking revenue led the list of achievers, with a 42 percent increase in the first quarter of the fiscal year, Tenaglia said. Based on that performance, income from parking is expected to rise from about $800,000 in 2013 to $1.1 million in 2014. City residents park free in municipal lots, Mayor Travis Palladeno noted.

“We are saving money and getting a lot of things done, while keeping the millage (tax) rate low (at 1.79),” said Palladeno.

Vice Mayor Terry Lister praised City Manager Shane Crawford and Tenaglia for their management of the city’s finances.

“You are doing a fantastic job. The city is in good shape,” he said.

Resident Victor Cucaro, who is running for mayor this year, had concerns about some of the funds. Cucaro wanted to know why the emergency fund had declined while there were no emergencies. Also, he said the cash balance had “disappeared” while “expenditures keep growing.”

Tenaglia explained the funds in question and said Cucaro’s comments were, in most cases, not correct. He offered to meet with Cucaro to discuss his concerns in detail.

Sign law loosened

The commission approved a short-term relaxation of the law governing business signs in the city. A-Frame “sandwich boards” and “flutter signs” previously outlawed will be permitted for a limited time.

The purpose is to help the businesses out during tough economic times, Crawford said. Unemployment data and other statistics relating to the economy will be reviewed every six months to see if the additional sign types will continue to be allowed, he said. Unemployment in Pinellas County must be 7 percent or greater to qualify as an “economic hardship condition.”

Former Commissioner Steve Kochick called the relaxation of the sign code based on government unemployment data “a little odd.” He said that means the rules could be changing every six months. Kochick also was concerned about sign clutter in the city, especially at John’s Pass Village.

“If every owner puts out a sandwich sign, where do the people walk?” he asked, adding, “I have concerns about clutter on the sidewalks.”

Commissioner Pat Shontz defended the sign code change. “There is something about sandwich signs that (the business owners) think will help them,” she said.

Crawford cited Lisa’s Café on Gulf Boulevard as an example of a business that would benefit by the change.

“You can walk right by there and miss it if there is not a (sandwich board) sign out, beckoning you to come in,” he said.

The sign code exemptions allow an A-Frame (sandwich board) sign not to exceed 32 inches wide and 48 inches tall, and a maximum of two flutter signs per business.
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