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St. Pete Beach eyes big police savings
Contract with Sheriff’s Office may expedite Corey Avenue project
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ST. PETE BEACH – City commissioners are talking about making improvements to the Corey Avenue area this year as a result of cost savings through their contract with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

St. Pete Beach Commissioner Marvin Shavian said at the commission’s Feb. 26 meeting he feels “very strongly” that improvements need to be made at Corey Avenue, possibly in September while children are in school and business activity is slower.

His comments stem from City Manager Mike Bonfield’s report at a workshop Feb. 19 that the city’s projected law enforcement savings for the current fiscal year is about $433,000.

Businesses are struggling along Corey Avenue, Shavian said.

“We got that money now, and I like to discuss the possibility of going forward with Corey because it is supposed to be our signature shopping area, and to be honest with you, it looks terrible,” Shavian said.

Commissioner Lorraine Huhn said she is happy that the concept is being discussed.

“There is more than a mild interest being generated from the business community,” she said.

“There are many, many ideas that will come into play. If we are going to do this, we may as well do it right, and that means we are going to have to put some time and energy into it and then come in with the money,” Huhn said.

Commissioners will hold a workshop to discuss each others’ ideas and possibly reach a consensus.

The city is working with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and seeking input from other entities on its plans for a Community Redevelopment Agency, which has powers to acquire, develop and dispose of property, construct streets, parks and other public improvements and rehabilitate buildings. About 150 parcels along three blocks are affected.

Streetscaping and other infrastructure improvements will be considered.

Bonfield outlined his recommendations for the projected savings in law enforcement at the work session last week.

“We are not looking at any kind of a tax increase or fee increase needed to pay for the (2014) budget,” Bonfield said. “With that in mind, we are looking at $1.5 million from the police as being free to do with as you please.”

St. Pete Beach voters in the Nov. 6 election gave city commissioners the go-ahead to contract with the Sheriff’s Office for services.

Bonfield recommended that $400,000 be transferred from the police budget to the capital improvements program for the current fiscal year.

He also recommended that the City Commission reduce the current tax rate of 3.28 mills back to 2.85 for the next fiscal year. That would put the millage rate at the same level in effect for fiscal year 2012.

Among other recommendations Bonfield presented at the work session include:

• Transferring $900,000 in savings from the police budget to the city’s capital improvements plan.

• Maintaining the funding for annual fixed investments, including the Community Center debt payment, $445,000; road resurfacing, $500,000; and seawall repairs, $80,000.

• Complete the Egan Park lighting and netting project.

Bonfield said the lights at the park are in poor condition and could cause some safety issues, such as with insulation on wires cracking. The capital improvements program’s cost is about $150,000.

• Completing the community boat dock project, which includes a 12-slip dock adjacent to the swimming pool. A boardwalk parallel to the seawall would be built to provide access from the Community Center building to Horan Park. žCity officials plan to install a kayak and canoe launch from the dock. The projected cost is $294,000, with a $220,000 grant already secured. The capital improvements program cost is $74,000.

• Funding the Egan boat ramp project design and engineering services at a cost of $75,000 through the capital improvements program. The project includes relocating the Egan Park ramp, adding a stormwater pre-treatment facility and restoring the shoreline. The total capital improvements program cost for the project is $395,000 with a $200,000 grant.

• Playground resurfacing. The safety surfacing in some of the playgrounds needs to be replaced at a cost of $150,000.

• Funding the Pass-A-Grille Way design and engineering services at $250,000. The costs for work related to stormwater, wastewater and reclaimed water will be paid for by the various city funds. The city expects to obtain grant funding for stormwater improvements. The total cost of the project for nonutility work is about $3.2 million.
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