REDINGTON SHORES – The town of Redington Shores’ cable TV Channel 615 remains out of service since lightning struck and destroyed the station’s broadcasting equipment earlier this month.
New equipment to get the station back in operation and possibly upgrade programming options was discussed at the Nov. 28 Town Commission workshop meeting.
Commissioner Casey Wojcik presented the features of two media streaming systems. One is a modest improvement on the current equipment that would broadcast town meetings and information plus allow the use of scheduled programming provided by Pinellas County on topics of local interest, such as hurricane preparedness.
Another more sophisticated model would stream town information and commission meetings on the Internet and provide the capability for live interactive broadcasts. The meetings could be archived and replayed at the user’s convenience. It also would allow the town to maintain a social media site, such as Facebook or Twitter to provide public access to town resources, people, and documents.
The basic equipment needed to do what the town currently provides would cost about $5,000, while the system with the more advanced programming capabilities could cost in excess of $20,000, Wojcik said.
Commission members appeared ready to replace the equipment needed to maintain the cable TV broadcasts, but balked at spending additional money to expand to the Internet and social media.
Wojcik had warned against buying the more sophisticated equipment if there is no plan to use it now. He said technology is rapidly advancing and a system that is state-of-the-art today could be obsolete in the near future.
The current cable TV presence should be sufficient, Wojcik said, as most Redington Shores residents are “on the trailing edge of technology.”
“We are probably 8 or 9 years behind catching up with the latest innovations,” he said. “We ride the trail of the wave.”
Mayor Bert Adams agreed, saying, “I don’t know if the residents would use the more sophisticated stuff.”
Wojcik said he would check out the equipment available to meet the town’s needs and have pricing quotes at the next commission meeting.
Senior tax exemption upped
The commission tentatively agreed to raise the low-income senior homestead exemption to $50,000. The increase is allowed as part of the recent passage of Amendment 11 by Florida voters, according to a letter from Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov.
In the letter, Dubov said the existing exemption cannot remain as it is. Options were to either increase the low-income senior exemption or eliminate it entirely.
Raising the exemption to $50,000 would cost the town a total of about $2,000 a year, based on 34 eligible residents, Dubov’s letter indicated.
Commissioner Lee Holmes said he favored increasing the amount.
“That’s not a huge outlay of money to give our low income seniors a boost,” he said.
The exemption increase was agreed to by Holmes, Adams, Commissioner Tom Kapper and Vice Mayor John Branch.
Wojcik was opposed, saying he was unsure how the town would be affected in future years. He predicted the economy may nosedive, and then “all hell will break loose.”
The issue will be formally presented for a vote at an upcoming regular commission meeting.
No new exemptions
The passage of Amendment 11 allows a new exemption of 100 percent of the assessed value if a senior’s homesteaded property value is less than $250,000 and the owner has been in residence for at least 25 years.
The commission declined that option, though Holmes said very few seniors in town would qualify. Not enough information has been provided to know how much the exemption would cost the town, Branch said.
Adams said he did not favor granting new exemptions when the cost is not apparent. “I don’t like to do anything without known facts, and we don’t have them,” Adams said.
A commission workshop meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 26, has been canceled.