Lois Eannel, director of the East Lake Community Library, asks Pinellas County Commissioners to consider keeping two representatives from each agency on the Palm Harbor Community Services Ageny board to make sure someone “most intimately involved” would be available for meetings.
CLEARWATER – A group of disgruntled residents in North Pinellas is unhappy with a revamp of the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency board.
County Commissioners approved the changes Sept. 17 with a 5-1 vote. Commissioner Norm Roche voted no. Commission Chair Ken Welch was absent. His father, Dr. David Welch, died Sept. 16.
The change to PHCSA’s Board adds representation for East Lake Library, something everyone said was a good thing. But representation for the Palm Harbor Library, Palm Harbor Recreation was reduced to one member each, and members appointed by the Palm Harbor Chamber lost their seats. The commission gained appointees.
Lois Eannel, the new director of the East Lake Community Library, tried to convince commissioners that it would be better to have two representatives from each agency to make sure someone “most intimately involved” would be available for meetings.
In lieu of two actual appointees, she requested that alternatives be appointed for each position, to make sure everyone had representation at meetings.
Marcus Harrison, PHCSA’s vice-chairman, suggested that the seven-member board be increased to nine. He also lobbied for the return of representation from the Palm Harbor Chamber.
Connie Stewart Schuck, chair of the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, said a chamber member had served on the board since the 1980s and saw no reason for change. Kelli Snow, a member of the Palm Harbor Chamber’s board of directors, requested that the PHCSA’s board be increased to nine members to allow continued representation from the chamber.
Chamber President and CEO Connie Davis advocated a nine-member board, so the chamber could “retain our seats.”
“We’ve served our community well with PHCSA,” she said.
County Commissioners agreed that representation from the chamber was good, but insisted that its members could apply for one of commission’s appointments.
“We want our positions guaranteed,” Davis said. “We’re OK with the rest of the changes. Just extend the board to nine.”
Jordan Myers, the chamber’s chairman-elect, added that the chamber had a vision for the business community and the community as a whole that could be best met with representation on PHCSA.
Palm Harbor resident Norm Atherton sided with other speakers.
“The PHCSA Board’s not broke. Just amend it to include East Lake. It’s been serving the community well,” he said. “Local control is what we want to maintain.”
Roger Johnson, a member of the East Lake Library Advisory Board, requested that the PHCSA Board be changed to give a more 50-50 balance between Palm Harbor and East Lake. He wanted two members to represent each library. He did not support keeping representatives from the Palm Harbor Chamber.
“You don’t see the chamber in East Lake. We don’t have many businesses,” he said.
Roche made a motion to include two representatives each for the Palm Harbor library, Palm Harbor recreation, Palm Harbor chamber, plus two appointees from the county and one representative for East Lake library. His motion died from a lack of a second.
Commissioner Susan Latvala said she understood that everyone wanted to make sure of equal representation for the different interests. But, she said it was time that representatives started voting for the good of the whole, not just their niche.
“Fiscal responsibility is what this board does (PHCSA). Think of it as one community and organization that taxes itself to provide services that do not come from ad valorem (taxes),” she said.
In the end, the consensus was to leave each group with one representative and to nix the addition of alternates.