REDINGTON BEACH – With the possibility of the future loss of tax revenue looming over the town, commissioners here voted July 18 to leave next year’s millage rate unchanged.
The commission hinted, however, the final tax rate would be lower.
Mayor Nick Simons said that despite the property tax rate being unchanged, the rise of home values meant this residential community of 1,400 would receive more revenue.
Some of that additional income would be lost if statewide voters approve a constitutional amendment in November. The proposition would allow a homeowner a third $25,000 exemption on the assessed value of their home.
The Pinellas County Property Appraiser has estimated Redington Beach would lose about $25,000 in ad valorem taxes were the amendment to pass.
At the present, and proposed, tax rate of 1.81 mills, the town would receive about $831,156 in revenue. If the roll-back rate of 1.71 were adopted, Redington Beach would get about $44,000 less, about $790,658.
The 1.81 millage rate is the tentative rate, which the property appraiser will use when issuing Truth in Millage, or TRIM notices, in August that show property owners’ potential ad valorem tax bill.
One commissioner, Tom Dorgan, said he would like the final rate to be “somewhere in between” the current and the roll-back rates. Other commissioners agreed with him, but all voted to accept 1.81 mills as the tentative rate.
Commissioners will vote next month on the final rate.
The panelists also appeared to have money on their minds earlier in the meeting when they turned back a request from a locally-based nonprofit organization, Santa’s Angels, for addition of another four-plex electrical box at Friendship Park.
Michael Brown, president of Santa’s Angels, noted that the organization held fundraisers at the park twice each year. He expressed safety concerns about the electrical outlets that were used during the functions; the outlets were positioned across a sidewalk from the stage area, while the main circuit box had only one outlet for use. Sometimes the amount of electrical power used during the fundraisers would cause the power to go out.
In a memo to the commission, Executive Director Lynne Hawthorne, estimated cost for the work would be “minimal.”
Simons said the commission, at the request of the Redington Beach Property Owners Association, had approved $3,950 in electrical upgrades at the park in 2014 that included the addition of a 200-amp main breaker box.
While he did not object to the work being done, Simons said “we spent all the money (in 2014) we should have to spend.”
Commissioner Fred Steiermann said the 2014 work was done without input from town officials and Commissioner Tom Dorgan added that the town should control any work done at a town park.
Responding to a question from Commissioner Dave Will, Brown said splitting the cost for the proposed electrical upgrade with RBPOA was “worth exploring.”
Simons told Brown the town would solicit bids for the work, which would be paid for with contributions.
In other action:
• Commissioners approved, on first reading, an ordinance to place several referendum items on the November ballot. One of the issues is whether to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within the town limits. A moratorium on accepting applications for dispensary has been in place since last year. Other referendum issues involve zoning changes.
The ordinance will get a second reading at a future meeting. If approved, ballot language will be drafted and sent to the Supervisor of Elections.
• Vince Gadrix, director of the Gulf Beaches Public Library, spoke about plans to expand the library with a 3,000-square-foot addition that he estimated would cost about $500,000.
He told commissioners he was seeking a $250,000 grant from the state of Florida, with the remaining funds to come from the library’s $500,000 reserve.
Gadrix said the library was getting greater use. Some 34 children’s programs were held this summer that were attended by 347 kids, while 192 adult programs in the past nine months had drawn 2,145 people.
Redington Beach residents represented a “strong proportion” of the library’s users, he said. Nearly two-thirds of Redington residents were cardholders and represented 20 of all users in the beach communities.
The Gulf Beaches library is a nonprofit organization funded in large part by Redington Beach and four other beach communities. Based on the town’s population, Redington Beach provided $31,234 in operational support this year.
• Commissioners reappointed three residents to positions on the Board of Adjustment: Wally Hawthorne, Richard Tangredi, and Darcy Bellemore. Their terms on the board had expired earlier in the month.