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Belleair keeps tax rate at 6.02 mills
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BELLEAIR – Belleair City Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed tax rate for the coming year at 6.02 mills, which is the same as last year. They approved the rate at their July 15 meeting.

By law Florida municipalities must inform the county tax collector of their maximum tax rate in advance of a final budget. This means that the rate in Belleair cannot be any higher than the 6.02, but it could be less once a balanced budget is established.

The rate is based on the property taxes from taxable property valued at more than $608 million. Because that amount is greater than a year ago it means actual revenue to the town will be increased by just more than 4 percent.

The rate is equivalent to $6.02 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Hotel plans forthcoming

Town Manager Micah Maxwell told the commission that he expects the application for a demolition permit, along with the site plan for the property of the Belleview Biltmore hotel sometime in the week of July 21. He said he and Town Attorney David Ottinger met with the owners of the hotel for a pre-application meeting. He said once the plans are submitted, the town’s planning consultant David Healy will have 15 days to review them, and then they will become public record. He said he expects the Commission to be formally presented with the plans at a meeting in either late September or October.

Ottinger cautioned the commissioners not to talk to the principals on either side of the debate over the fate of the hotel before they have to deal with the issue at a formal hearing.

“I ask you to put the blinders on as best you can,” he said. “You are no doubt going to be approached by lobbyists on both sides.”

In answer to a question from Piccarreto, Ottinger said the commissioners could talk to residents about the issue but not those who seek to become party to the formal discussions about the hotels fate.

Roundabout update

It will be at least mid-August before construction will begin on the roundabout planned for the Ponce De Leon and Indian Rocks Road intersection. Maxwell told the commissioners that the water main and some gas lines have to be moved before construction can begin. He said when the contractor started digging it was discovered the pipes were too close to the surface.

“Now we have to bring in specialized equipment and contractors to do the job,” he said.

He did say the project is still on budget.

Once work begins the intersection will be closed for two months.

Street sweeping services renewed

Commissioners approved a new street sweeping agreement with the city of Largo. The deal provides for Largo to sweep the town’s streets once a month at a cost of just over $1,200 a month. The total annual cost of the service is roughly $15,000.

Last year a private company swept Belleair streets. However, the town took issue with some of that company’s charges and dropped the service. Since then Clearwater has been providing some complimentary street sweeping services and Largo provided some paid service. Now Largo will get the job on a year-to-year basis.

New police officer

The town of Belleair has a new police officer. Mayor Gary Katica swore in John Drapiewski. Drapiewski, who has two masters degrees, is a retired Chicago police officer that held the rank of sergeant when he retired. He and his wife Sandy recently moved to the area. They have two daughters, one of whom is a police officer in Chicago and the other who lives in Clearwater.

In other police related news, Officer Roy Olsen has been appointed to the Board of Trustees for the town’s police officers retirement plan. Olsen succeeds Officer Dan Bates, who died recently.

Town proclamations

The town officially proclaimed July as Parks and Recreation Month and August as Florida Water Professionals month.

The Parks and Recreation proclamation reads in part: “Parks and natural recreation areas improve water quality, protect groundwater, prevent flooding, improve the quality of the air we breathe, provide vegetative buffers to development and produce habitat for wildlife.”

The Water Professionals proclamation “recognizes all those who have played a significant part in operating and maintaining drinking water, waste water and stormwater systems in Florida, and applaud their constant efforts to protect our health and environment.”
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