Belleair Bluffs City Clerk Debra Sullivan, recipient of an Award of Financial Reporting Achievement, announces that the city received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association. Pictured are, from left, Commissioner Jack Nazario, Mayor Chris Arbutine, Sullivan and Commissioners Joe Barkley, Taylour Shimkus and Suzy Sofer.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Proposed changes to the city’s sign code will bring the rate of compliance among the local businesses from 13 percent to 76 percent.
Commissioner Taylour Shimkus, who worked on the recommended changes to the code along with Public Works Director Robert David, said Sept. 21“tweaks” to the code were made that allow most businesses to meet the requirements without making any changes.
BELLEAIR BEACH - A 100-gallon fuel oil spill by a trucker delivering diesel oil to a resident has caused thousands of dollars in damage to a city street and threatened to pollute the Intracoastal Waterway.
Community Services Director Allen Godfrey announced the spill and its consequences at the Sept. 16 city council meeting. Godfrey said a quick cleanup response by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District was able to contain the oil and limit any damage in the waterway. Also, city crews cleaned the oil from the roadway.
“We had a very good response to something that could have been a lot worse,” Godfrey said.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - It was Sept. 11, 14 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. The scene was outside the fire station on First Street in Indian Rocks Beach where a monument to the victims of 9/11 would be unveiled.
Three large canopies had been erected to protect people from the hot sun. They were filled to overflowing. Other people, dozens of them, stood outside; the sun and heat notwithstanding. They watched as the long anticipated monument would be revealed.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - There are no adult businesses in Indian Rocks Beach and there likely never will be given what it costs to obtain a license to operate such a business in the city.
During the course of cleaning up some wording in the city’s occupational license tax ordinance, commissioners learned at their meeting on Sept. 8 that it would be costly for anyone wanting to operate an adult business in the city.
All business taxes were revealed in the document and most appeared to be reasonable. For example a license to operate a lawn care service costs $70. There is a $100 tax imposed on the operation of a nursing home, $20 to sell real estate.
BELLEAIR - Belleair residents will once again be paying a tax rate of 5.92 mills, among the highest rate in Pinellas County. The tax rate passed on second reading at the commission meeting on Sept. 15.
A mill represents one dollar in tax per $1,000 in assessed value. The rate hasn’t changed from a year ago, but the town will receive more money from property taxes because the assessed value of property has increased in the last year.
The rate passed unanimously with little comment from Commissioners. Only Kevin Piccarreto commented, saying he had hoped the town could have reduced the mill rate this time around.
BELLEAIR SHORE - A review of the town of Belleair Shore’s financial position, presented at the Sept. 9 commission meeting, was loaded with rave comments from the auditor.
“This is a very good report,” said Jeanine Bittinger, CPA of Davidson, Jamieson & Cristini, in introducing her analysis of the town’s finances for the budget year ending Sept. 30, 2014. Bittinger was especially impressed with the over $400,000 in reserves, which exceeded many times the annual expenses of $90,000.
The Save the Manatee Club filed a motion Aug. 28 to intervene on behalf of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the petition challenge against slow-speed boating zones affecting Indian Rocks Beach.
Katie Tripp, the club’s director of science and conservation, said the club intervened because of the club’s interest in the areas affected.
The administrative petition, filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of an Indian Rocks Beach resident, says the FWC originally published the notice of the proposed rule on Dec. 22 and excluded from coverage two basins in the Indian Rocks Beach area north of 12th Avenue that have historically been used for water sports activities. The FWC adopted the rules in June.
BELLEAIR - Town commissioners have unanimously approved the budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. At the special budget meeting on Sept. 3, Belleair Commissioners approved the millage rate of 5.92, which is the same as last year.
A mill is equivalent to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
The taxable value for the town in the year ahead is just over $635,000 or an increase of over 4 percent because of the increase in property values.
Among the highlights of the new budget is the institution of a merit system for employee pay raises. For years employees did not receive any raises because of the sagging economy. Under the new plan employees can earn as much as a 3 percent raise based on job performance. Noting that not all employees will receive the 3 percent raise Finance Director J.P. Murphy said the town has set aside $59,000 for the raises.