BELLEAIR – The Belleair Town Commission Sept. 19 unanimously approved the millage rate of 5.9432, the same as the current year’s figure, and the $18.9 million budget for the town for the upcoming fiscal year.
Because it was the second and final reading of the resolutions approving the items there was little discussion.
Since the millage rate remained the same and property taxes fell 2.8 percent, the town must operate with less money.
Property taxes that are paid to Belleair on a home valued at $250,000 amount to $1,188 a year, or $99 a month.
Belleair commissioners approved the borrowing of $10 million from the BB&T Bank. The loan, to be paid out over 20 years, is to help pay for upgrades and repairs to the town’s infrastructure. The interest rate on the loan is 3.61 percent and is locked in for the 20 years. Annual payments will amount to $710,000.
In addition to the loan to help pay for the infrastructure upgrades, Belleair residents were also levied a utility tax and a stormwater fee. As well, some Penny for Pinellas money will also go into the infrastructure fund.
New sign for golf club approved
Commissioners unanimously approved a variance that will allow the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club to erect a second sign on its property. The club asked for the variance because officials there said often people mistook their club for the Belleair Golf and Country Club.
The new sign will be erected on the North side of the property along Poinsettia Road and it will primarily advertise the club’s eating establishment, the Pelican Restaurant. Commissioner Kevin Piccarreto was concerned with the look of the sign, but Town Attorney David Ottinger said the commission has no say in how the sign will look once permission for the variance was granted.
Crosswalks to be studied
Belleair resident Tiffany Lopatin urged the commission to do something to help pedestrians and young people cross Indian Rocks Road.
“We live on the western end of Ponce De Leon Blvd.,” she said. “I have two kids, 8 and 9, who love to play and hang out at the recrreation center. But I can’t just say get on your bikes and go over there because it is too dangerous to cross Indian Rocks Road. We love our Rec and the kids would be there more often if they could get there safely.”
She urged commissioners to do something, such as installing crosswalks to slow traffic and make it safer.
Mayor Gary Katica was sympathetic.
“It has been an issue for a long time,” he said. “We are looking at ways to cut down on the traffic on Indian Rocks Road and to slow it down.” Commissioner Kevin Piccarreto also was vocal on the issue.
“I’m getting impatient,” he said. “I’ve been pushing for this for two years.”
Town Manager Micah Maxwell said the town was looking into it. “We are considering a number of crosswalks, first at Ponce and at the Mall intersections,” he said. “We hope to begin some preliminary work before the end of the year and bring our plans to the Commission by then.”
He also said there were plans in the works to upgrade Osceola Road to make it safer for children to get to the Recreation Center.
Costly mistake not to pay bills
A Belleair resident will have liens placed against his property because he hasn’t paid some bills which he owes the town.
Officials said Richard Busbee of Lake Wales owns the property at 619 Pineland Ave. in Belleair and he is in arrears in paying for various town services. He owes $55.04 in water service charges, $66.84 for trash collection, and $22.26 for sewage charges. The town will place a lien on his property for the total of the three amounts.
Pension Board member appointed
Wendy Mantell has been reappointed to the town’s Police Pension Board of Trustees.
Mantell’s position on the board will expire on Sept. 30. She had expressed an interest in serving again so she received another two-year term. There are five members on the board and their two year terms are staggered.