REDINGTON BEACH – Redington Beach Town commissioners have unanimously approved a resolution asking Florida lawmakers to reject any more proposals to cut back home rule powers.
The April 5 action was a pushback against new attempts by the legislature to limit the ability of municipalities to make and enforce their own rules.
After the commission passed the resolution, Mayor Nick Simons said he hoped the action would “send them [the legislature] a message” and called for cities and towns statewide to pass similar resolutions.
Laws passed by the legislature in 2011 limited the ability of cities, including Redington Beach, to regulate short-stay rentals. The commission’s resolution noted that HB 425 and SB 188 being considered in the current session would void any local regulation of short-stay rentals approved by municipalities since 2011.
Other bills being considered by the legislature this year, the resolution added, would preempt local rules on businesses, including licensing and permit fees, and bar local ordinances on the placement of micro-wireless facilities on existing cell towers or utility plies.
A town’s home rule powers are its “most precious powers,” the resolution stated, because they allow local governments “to make necessary changes as a city grows.”
Introducing the resolution, Town Attorney Jay Daigneault said that while the controversy over home rule was ongoing, this year proposals to further restrain local authorities’ rule-making abilities were “coming from both sides of the aisle under the guise of free market economy and the like.”
“The erosion of home rule is damaging,” he added. “I don’t think one size fits all. I would recommend that you all [commissioners] stand up to the legislature and tell them that enough is enough in terms of home rule.”
“I don’t know that passing [resolution] 2017-03 will make any difference to those legislators in Tallahassee but we’ll send them a message and hopefully lots of other municipalities will be doing the same as well,” Simons said after the commission’s vote.
The resolution will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott, the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation, the Mayor’s Council of Pinellas County, and all cities and towns in the county.
Daigneault said he was aware of “at least 50” other municipalities around the state that have passed similar resolutions.
Commissioners voted in a special March 10 meeting to hire the firm of Dean Mead at a cost of $25,000 to lobby for a bill that would allow Redington Beach to hold a referendum on a 2008 ordinance to ban short-term rentals. Simons reported April 5 the bill has been approved by two subcommittees and was headed to the full commerce committee.
Following several weeks of discussion about the town’s needs for a GIS system, the panel voted unanimously to contract with the engineering firm CPWG to provide the appropriate software and data collection.
The system will cost $8,000 for the initial mapping and survey of outfalls, plus another $2,000 for system development. There will not be any additional fees for the firm to maintain the system.
Its primary use will be to collect and maintain data to prepare federal NPDES pollution reports.
The system is expected to be operational in about 90 days.
Commissioners also agreed to sign on to an interlocal agreement with Pinellas County that would allow the town to share in the revenue from a proposed extension of the Penny for Pinellas 1-cent sales tax.
The current Penny, in which Redington Beach participates, expires in 2019. A countywide vote on extending the sales tax another 10 years will take place in November.
Simons encouraged Redington Beach voters to approve the extension. He said the Penny had allowed the town to repave streets, rehabilitate a seawall and purchase two lots to expand Town Park.
Money from the Penny is “very important to us,” he said.
The current interlocal agreement sets a fixed dollar amount that is allocated to each city or town in Pinellas County. The new agreement divides the revenue on a percentage basis based on population. For instance, Pinellas County will receive 51.75 percent of the Penny revenue, Clearwater 8 percent, and St. Petersburg, 18.46 percent. Redington Beach would get 0.103 percent.
Penny for Pinellas has been in effect since 1990. Voters have renewed the tax every 10 years since then.
In other action, commissioners voted to remove Veronika Marcoski from her position as an alternate member of the Board of Adjustment. Town Clerk Missy Clarke said her office had attempted to contact Markoski seven times through email, phone and letters since Feb. 1 about her need to fill in at Board of Adjustment meetings. Clarke said Markoski had not responded to any of those appeals.
Markoski was appointed to the board in July 2016.
The panel also named Commissioner Dave Will as the town’s representative to the Barrier Islands Governmental Council. Will replaces Mark Deighton, who did not seek re-election in March.