INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – For the sixth year in a row the tax rate in Indian Rocks Beach is 2.0 mills. Commissioners unanimously approved the rate at their regular meeting on Sept. 18. They also approved the budget for the coming year.
There was virtually no discussion about the millage rate or the budget. It was second and final reading of the resolutions approving both measures and debate and comments had long since taken place in budget workshops and commission meetings.
The only remark came from a resident who wondered why money had to be spent.
“I want people to quit spending money,” he said. “There is no reason why you can’t meet a budget.”
After the budget passed unanimously Mayor R.B. Johnson responded to the remarks.
“I think we’ve been pretty responsible in putting our budget together,” he said. We’ve kept the millage rate at 2.0.”
It takes just over $3 million to operate the city for a year.
Once the budget passed it was on to other items.
City Manager Gregg Mims told the commissioners that he was starting some new ways for residents to get involved in their community.
“In October we are going to make available comment cards for residents so they can tell us directly what they think of our service and how we might improve,” he said. “Also we’ll be providing a link to the Sheriff’s Office on our website so residents who have a complaint with the sheriff or want to discuss an issue can do so directly.”
In his report, Community Deputy Noel Dunham said the number of transients coming into the city was increasing and he didn’t know why but intended to look into it.
That prompted Commissioner Cookie Kennedy to praise the Sheriff’s Office for a quick response to an issue she had recently with a transient person.
“A man walked right into my shop and was approaching my clients,” she said. “I told him I would speak to him when I was finished and he went outside and sat down. Then he approached my tenant and was looking for money. I called the Sheriff’s Office and within a very short time the deputies were there and looked after the issue.”
Kennedy said the deputies followed protocol and explained to the transient person where there was safe haven and where he could get something to eat.
“We don’t mind visitors to our city, but we don’t want them bothering our residents for money,” said Kennedy.
Commissioner Terry Hamilton-Wollin said she was concerned with the state of the town’s reserve fund.
“We don’t seem to have a payback plan for our reserves,” she said. “For three years we have had to take money out of the reserves to meet certain obligations. We can’t continue like this, we have to find new sources of income.”
Hamilton-Wollin also commented that there seems to be a continuing problem with rats in certain parts of the city.
Commissioner Jim Labadie agreed. He said the rat problem seems to be outside around restaurants.
“Let’s call them food sources,” he said. “It seems they are not properly disposing of their food at the end of the day. They are leaving the dumpster lids open and the rats know where to hide until it gets dark.”
Commissioner Phil Hanna wondered if the city might write courtesy letters to those establishments asking them to be more careful with how they dispose of unwanted food and perhaps offer them a second dumpster if one isn’t sufficient.
City Manager Mims said the issue was noted and would be dealt with.
Election date set
Commissioners approved Tuesday, March 11, as the date for the next municipal election. The qualifying period for candidates begins on Monday, Dec. 16, and ends on Friday, Dec. 20.
Candidates can pick up information packets at City Hall beginning on Monday, Nov. 4.
Three seats on the IRB Commission will be up for grabs: The mayor’s seat currently occupied by R.B. Johnson and the commissioners’ seats occupied by Cookie Kennedy and Jim Labadie. All three incumbents are expected to run again.
Dates to remember
Commissioners approved Sunday, Dec. 8, as the date for the annual Holiday Parade. The parade route can be found on the city’s website.
Saturday, Oct. 4 is the date for the annual Walk Like MADD Run on the Beach. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the 18th Avenue Beach Access. Earlier that day at 11 a.m. the annual homeowners scavenger hunt will take place along Gulf Boulevard.