REDINGTON BEACH – Nonresidents who park at Beach Park may see more tickets on their windshields after a resident told Redington Beach commissioners July 19 that current efforts to restrict spaces to residents were ineffective.
Speaking during a commission workshop, Stephen Brantley said despite the addition of more signs at the limited access lot, cars without valid permits were still parking there.
“It’s still not working,” Brantley told the panel, listing the reasons why he felt the recent changes did not have the desired result.
The signs had been added following complaints by Brantley at a commission meeting earlier this year.
He noted the parking area had only three signs warning that only valid permit holders could park there and, if the lot was crowded, the signs might not be visible. The second reason, he said, was “I don’t think they really care.”
“The cost of a ticket is really no more than what you pay to park at some of the public parking areas or when there’s an event down at Madeira Beach,” he added.
Brantley suggested there be “at least a threat” of the offending vehicle being towed away.
He said conversations with Pinellas County deputies about the situation had been unfruitful.
“Out of a whole staff that I worked with,” Brantley said, “you may find a couple of officers that are interested in writing a parking ticket. They have a lot of bigger and more pressing issues on their plate, understandably so.”
He added that he had seen deputies tell drivers without permits to park across the street, which resolved the parking problem, but instead had the car parking in front of someone’s house.
There “must be some form of enforcement for people who don’t obey the rules or regulations,” Brantley told commissioners. He added that dog owners were illegally walking their pets on the beach.
Safety was also a concern when entering and leaving the park, he said. The view of oncoming traffic for drivers leaving the park is obscured by a post with two signs near the exit as well as by foliage that has grown into the line of sight. He also noted there was no marked pedestrian crossing across Gulf Boulevard.
Mayor Nick Simon told Brantley he would relay his concerns to officials at the sheriff’s office. Simon also asked Town Clerk Missy Clark to see if one of the signs blocking the view, a Tropicana Field directional, could be moved.
Commenting at the end of the subsequent regular meeting, Simon said he was not in favor of towing vehicles improperly parked at the lot, but that he would ask the sheriff’s office to increase enforcement at the park.
Commissioners were in agreement about taking additional actions against violators, but differed on possible solutions. Commissioner Tom Dorgan suggested raising parking fees. Dave Will thought “Permit Parking” should be painted on the asphalt at the park entrance, while Vice Mayor Fred Steiermann noted the commission had previously considered putting a sign on each side of the entrance and asked Will if an additional sign would be sufficient.
Also during the workshop, Steiermann advocated for placing salary caps on each of the four town employees.
“Every year we talk about salaries, and without knowing where the top is how can you figure out where everyone is supposed to be,” he asked.
He noted that a previous commission had granted a 17 percent pay raise to an employee and “it would be better for us to know where the end of the road was.”
Will told Steiermann he was not sure salary caps were necessary. Commissioner Tim Kornijtschuk backed that sentiment, saying “Are we under-paying people? Is that what we’re wondering about? Are we over-paying people.”
Dorgan said caps would make it easier for the commission. If raises were based on caps, he said, it would help prevent hard feelings by employees if raises were not given for some reason.
“It’s the most difficult thing we go through at budget time,” Steiermann said. “You never know what to do for bonuses. You never know what to do for raises. I just think that would give us more of a guideline.”
The mayor said he was against salary caps. “It’s a small town. We have four employees,” he said. “We are blessed with having four excellent employees in town.”
Simon said salaries for the employees were “not anywhere near what we would want to create that cap for.”
The clerk for North Redington Beach is paid $75,141, he said, reading from memos presented by Clark, while the clerk for Redington Shores has an annual salary of $88,944.
Clark’s salary is $61,800.
Simon said he was willing to consider a cap if Steiermann “came up with some numbers.”
The vice mayor responded, saying he was not looking to “stifle” salaries. He said he had introduced the issue hoping the Finance Advisory Committee, which is headed by Dorgan, would take it up.
After additional discussion, commissioners referred the issue to the finance board.
In other action during the regular meeting, Clark reported she had told the county the town’s millage rate would remain at the current 1.849 for the upcoming fiscal year. The deadline for notifying the tax appraiser is Aug. 1 for TRIM notices to be mailed out.
Commissioners agreed with her action, noting the rate could be lowered before it is finalized in September, but not raised.
The 1.849 millage rate would raise about $779,313, Clark said, while a rollback rate of 1.727 would generate $741,569 in revenue.
Revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year had been budgeted at $730,000 and the town had already collected $779,000 as of the end of June, she added.
Clark informed the commission she was still waiting for information on the local option gas tax and the communication and service tax, insurance rates and costs related to undergrounding utilities on Gulf Boulevard before she could present a final budget.
In other actions, commissioners approved the appointments of Richard Cariello and JoAnna Lynch to fulltime positions on the Parks and Recreation Board.
Clark said the positions came open after three long-time members of the board, Marilyn Barber, Anna Wiggers and Peggy Akery, declined reappointment when their terms expire on Aug 1.
Steiermann said the three women had been on the board for many years and that their departures left “big shoes to fill.”