DUNEDIN – City commissioners gave tentative approval to a slight increase in the tax rate for the fiscal year Sept. 12.
The Dunedin City Commission approved the first reading of the property tax rate, tentative operating and capital budget and the pay plan for fiscal year 2014.
The tentative millage rate for the next fiscal year is 3.73, which is 12.8 percent more than the calculated rolled back rate of 3.31. The rolled back rate is the rate required to collect the same amount of revenue as the previous fiscal year, according to a city memo. The commission voted 3-2 with Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski and Mayor Dave Eggers dissenting regarding the millage rate.
The two opposing members thought that if they were going to raise the tax rate, that they should spread it out more and not raise it so much so fast. Other commission members pointed out that even with the increase, Dunedin still has the third-lowest millage rate in all of Pinellas County.
The tentative operating and capital expenditure budget for fiscal year 2014 is $64.3 million. The current rate is 3.39 mills. Eggers said that even though he thinks the city has many excellent projects in place, especially including the enterprise fund and Penny for Pinellas projects, he could not vote for the budget because he disapproves of the millage increase. Bujalski agreed, adding that she also supports many of the capital projects and is excited about them, but she can not support the increase either.
The first reading of the budget passed 3-2, with Bujalski and Eggers dissenting.
The proposed pay plan includes a 2 percent merit increase for all city employees. Mayor Eggers pointed out that due to the economy, it had been a number of years since the first 1 percent pay increase last year, and though the staff has understood, this raise is overdue and justified. The total city staff has been downsized throughout the recession, so the remaining employees are also doing a lot more work per person than before the recession. The commission unanimously voted to approve this pay plan.
The final reading of these items was set for Thursday, Sept. 26.
Contracts, applications approved
DUNEDIN – In the consent agenda at the Sept. 12 Dunedin City Commission meeting, the city unanimously approved a merchant services participation agreement and to award a revocable license agreement to American Craft Endeavors/Howard Alan Events Ltd. to conduct the Nov. 16 and 17 Arts and Crafts Festival.
In regards to the merchant agreement, the city awarded a contract to Bank of America for service costs related to credit card processing fees. The city accepts credit cards at various locations throughout the city, and historically, Dunedin has piggybacked on a state contract for these merchant services. That contract has recently expired, and this new contract is going to Bank of America for a five-year period with an option to renew.
Regarding the craft festival agreement, American Crafts Endeavors has brought quality festivals to the city since 1996, and festival manager Helayne Stillings has been with the company for more than 30 years, according to a memo to the commission from City Manager Rob DiSpirito. Past events in the city have been successful, bringing thousands of people to the city and showcasing more than 200 vendors.
The festival manager will operate four festivals per calendar year and shall pay all expenses related to the event, including staff time, cleanup, sheriff and traffic control expenses. Additionally, the festival manager shall compensate the city $3,333 per event, according to the agreement.
Easement to be vacated
DUNEDIN – The Dunedin City Commission, on Sept. 12, unanimously approved an application request to vacate a utility easement at 1142 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. The easement is 25 feet by 400 feet on the southwest portion of the property.
“The existing easement to be vacated is one that was necessary for the original Dunedin Housing Authority rental complex, which has since been demolished,” according to a memo to the commission from City Manager Rob DiSpirito. “The easement is no longer needed and would adversely impact the ability to reconstruct the site as the Eco-Village Complex.”
All of the necessary utility providers have been contacted, and this would not create any problems. Likewise, both city engineering and fire staff have reviewed the application and have no objections, the memo said.
Surplus properties to be sold
DUNEDIN – The Dunedin City Commission unanimously voted on Sept. 12 to approve the sale of certain surplus properties to the highest bidder, resulting in about $127,000 in revenue to the 2013 budget and $125,000 to the 2014 budget.
Previously, city staff had been instructed to go through and find surplus properties that the city was not using and determine which could be eligible for sale.
“Currently, staff estimates that approximately $250,000 in revenues will be received by the city from the sale of approximately 22 surplus properties,” according to a memo from City Manager Rob DiSpirito to the commission. “One half of this amount, or approximately $127,000 will be received by the end of fiscal year 2013, with the remainder targeted for receipt during fiscal year 2014.”
As proposed at the Sept. 12 meeting, the funds would go to fund a shortfall in the 2013 budget. Finance Director Karen Feeney and DiSpirito explained that this was due to variable expenses that the city cannot control.
Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said that she wanted to add a line to the proposal to ensure that city staff will come to the commission after the sale of these properties to specifically discuss how this revenue will be used. She wanted to ensure that the money would not get swallowed up into the general fund.
Bids, contracts approved
DUNEDIN – The Dunedin City Commission unanimously approved numerous bids and contracts at the Sept. 12 meeting.
The first item was the Jolley Trolley service agreement for the north county coastal route.
“In the fall of 2010, the city of Dunedin entered into an agreement with PSTA, the Jolley Trolley, the Clearwater Downtown Development Board, the city of Tarpon Springs, the city of Clearwater, and Pinellas County to support the operation of the Jolley Trolley’s north coastal route,” a memo to the commission from City Manager Rob DiSpirito said. “This new route provided fixed route service from Clearwater Beach and downtown Clearwater to Dunedin, unincorporated Palm Harbor and the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.”
This has been an extremely successful service, and ridership continues to be strong, the memo said. The city agreed to approve this contract of $32,643.
Next, the city awarded a contract to Florida Safety Contractors, Inc. of Tampa for $116,064 to construct improvements along Skinner Boulevard from Douglas Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. This includes removing the westbound right turn lane, which has been a chronic problem, the commission agreed.
The next item was to approve a contract to Moore Stephens Lovelace, P.A. of Clearwater for $58,000 for auditing services for the city. The following item was approving a change order to Asphalt Paving Systems, Inc. for the resurfacing of the Dunedin Cemetery roads. Mayor Dave Eggers said he is glad for this contract and to bring up the standard and the beauty of the cemetery.
Next, the commission approved an addendum of the contract for law enforcement services. Greg Rice, city development director, said the contract is essentially the same as last year, with the same services and just a 0.44 percent increase, making it $3.9 million.
A bid for custodial services was then approved, renewing the contract with USSI of Fort Myers for $324,108 to supply the city with custodial services at various locations. This company has provided these services to the city beginning in November 2008, and renewed in 2012 and 2013.