SEMINOLE – At its July 8 meeting, the Semionle City Council voted 4-2 to reject an endorsement of Greenlight Pinellas.
Councilors Patricia Plantamura and Jim Quinn voted in favor of the transit plan.
The Greenlight Pinellas plan will expand the county’s bus service and includes building a light-rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The referendum will be on the Nov. 4 ballot and if approved would increase the county’s sales tax from 7 to 8 cents.
“Seven is high enough as it is,” said Mayor Leslie Waters. “If sales tax is increased it’ll be the highest in the state. That’s not a good marketing tool for Pinellas … We all must look for the bigger picture.”
Vice Mayor Thom Barnhorn said Seminole lost several bus routes over the past several years – “including the one that goes to the beach” – because of a decline in ridership. The Greenlight Pinellas plan would only increase routes on Seminole Boulevard, he said.
“I cannot with good conscience say that all of my city supports this,” he said. “With all the emails I received and maybe we all got them, got barraged by them, I did not even receive one that said please do it.”
He added, “I cannot, without an increase in service to our residents, justify doing this.”
Quinn said that Pinellas County could lead the state in improving its ineffective public transportation.
“It’s for the benefit of the whole state of Florida,” he said, which will see significant population increases in the coming decades. “And if we don’t change the system of transportation, if you think Malfunction Junction is bad now and with all the money that’s spent on it doesn’t change, it just gets worse, it’s going to get worse. We need to do something to improve the public transportation in the state of Florida and if we have to start in Pinellas County and get the rest of the state on board, that’s my reason for supporting this program of increasing transportation.”
He added, “If Florida doesn’t get on board, we’re going to be in the dark ages on this.”
Councilor John Counts held an opposing view.
“We are on the front row of a typical example of government waste,” he said. “This is exciting because we are now seeing short-sighted liberalism in action, what happens when they think that if we throw a bunch of money at it, it will solve a problem [but really] create[s] a long-term burden on the backs of our tax payers. Why we are even entertaining a resolution for our government … I don’t know. I’m flabbergasted we’re even considering this.”
Still, he said, “This is a vote that’s going to the people. We should not be taking a stand either way.”
Two City Council seats open
SEMINOLE – Two Seminole City Council seats are open this election season. The council members, who will serve three-year terms, will be decided upon on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Candidate filing begins Tuesday, July 29, 9 a.m., and ends Monday, Aug. 11, 4 p.m.
Each candidate must obtain a qualification packet or a qualification CD from the city clerk. They must file all necessary documents, as provided by the city clerk, during the qualifying period.
If filing a petition and fee, documents to be submitted should include: 40 petition cards signed by qualified city electors, a qualifying fee of $15 and a State Election Assessment fee of $55.62. If candidates are paying the fee only, they must pay a $100 qualifying fee in addition to the State Election Assessment fee. Fees must be made payable with a check from a campaign account.
Candidates must be a registered voter and resident of the city of Seminole for one year prior to qualifying.
SEMINOLE – Mayor Leslie Waters announced at the July 8 City Council meeting that City Manager Frank Edmunds received an average score of 70 on his annual evaluation by City Council members.
He received a score of 72 – the highest rating he can achieve – from Mayor Waters and Councilors Jim Quinn and Bob Matthews. Vice Mayor Barnhorn and Councilor John Counts gave him a score of 70, while Councilor Chris Burke gave him a score of 64. Councilor Patricia Plantamura did not submit an evaluation.
“From my corporate experience,” said Mayor Waters, who spent many years working in human resources, “this definitely exceeds expectations.”
Edmunds is set to retire in January 16, 2015.
City teams up with Seminole Historical Society
SEMINOLE – Though it’s long been planned for the Seminole Historical Society to have space for a museum in the former City Hall building at City Park once its reconstructed, the City Council formally adopted the terms of this agreement at its July 8 meeting.
The council unanimously approved resolution 04-2014, which found a public purpose associated with the group’s occupancy within the planned Community Center.
The council also unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding identifying the Seminole Historical Society’s responsibilities associated with their occupancy within the building.
The renovations to the building began earlier this month. The building should be completed by early 2015 and will include a Community Room that will seat close to 300 people and be available for rent, a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office station and city storage in addition to space for the Seminole Historical Society.