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Belleair Bee
Council agrees to take another look at code enforcement
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BELLEAIR BEACH – Sheds, parking on the grass and open garage doors reopened discussion on code enforcement at the July 7 City Council meeting.

A group of residents met with police Chief Ernie Armistead, expressing their displeasure with people parking on the grass and leaving their garage doors open. Armistead routed the request to Mayor Mike Kelly, who brought the matter to the council’s attention.

The council agreed by consensus that parking on the grass, where allowed, was a matter for homeowners to decide.

“They own the grass,” council member Bert Cutler said.

The mandatory closing of garage doors, upon advice from City Attorney Paul Marino, was also dismissed as unenforceable and unnecessary.

However, the matter of sheds was given serious consideration, as were other code enforcement violations.

The consensus of the council and residents was to consider removing the responsibility from the police department and giving the code enforcement duty to one person.

“To be honest with you,” council presiding officer Lynn Rives said, “the codes aren’t being enforced. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, it’s selective enforcement. When we gave this to the police department I thought it was a mistake. I voted against it. I still think it’s a mistake because the police department does not have the time to do what they’re supposed to be doing and chase code enforcement.”

Armistead reported that 64 cases of code enforcement violations had been worked in June and 11 thus far in July.

The matter was sent to the personnel committee.

Marina expansion

Dan Baitcher, chairman of the marina committee, presented plans developed over the past six to seven months to build additional boat slips in two proposed areas of the city – the north side of the causeway and on Belle Isle Avenue. The new slips would generate revenue for the city and give more residents a place for their boats.

It was the consensus that public input was needed before moving forward with either proposal.

A workshop with the council, marina committee and building steering committee has been set for Monday, July 26, 7 p.m.

Park grants

Rives announced that the city had won two park grants from the Florida Recreation and Development Assistance Program (FRDAP), totaling $50,000 each. He said the first $50,000 would go to Morgan Park for a new picnic shelter. The second grant was awarded for Bayside Park to build a small restroom, small playground and a new tennis court.

Ordinances

The council unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance to repeal the sewer rates and system. The ordinance is no longer required after the sale of the sewer to the county. Council members Marvin Behm, Donna Durante and Mary Jo Henderson were absent.

The council also passed unanimously on first reading an ordinance opting out of early voting provisions for city elections. The expenses for election personnel and equipment for the additional time were found to be prohibitive.

Resolutions

The council unanimously approved a resolution on purchasing procedures, a resolution amending the 2003-2004 operating budget and a resolution on the disposition of surplus property.

The resolution on the rebate for overcharges relating to the sewer was tabled on suggestion by Cutler.

Transition committee

The transition committee presented the council with its latest work, including an interview rating score sheet, interview questions for the city manager candidates, a contract and recommendation for background checks. The city attorney was asked to study the documents for legal issues.

Millage rate

The council approved the proposed millage rate of 2.25, which will be used by the finance committee as work has started on next year’s budget. Cutler, chairman of the finance committee, agreed that the proposed figure was high and explained that it was customary to start with a high figure and then work down to something closer to the present rate.

Cutler reported that preliminary work had the budget coming in at $80,000 over the present year. He said work would continue to bring it down closer to this years’.

Other business

• Rives was appointed as the voting delegate for the Florida League of Cities conference in August.

• Kelly announced that the county had provided maps of areas where reclaimed water work was going on in the city. The maps are available at city hall.

• Kelly announced that $10,000 had been collected thus far in rental registrations. He urged anyone who knew of someone who rents residential property to get in touch with the city. He said steps would be taken soon to find violators. The fine is $200.
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