BELLEAIR — Any Belleair mayor or town commissioner can be booted from office if they have four unexcused absences from commission meetings within 12 months. The rule, which also requires a public hearing to determine the official’s fate, is among new Town Commission rules and procedures approved by the board at its regular April 6 meeting.
Excused absences include official town business, family emergencies, private job requirements, illness, and vacations.
The commission agreed to streamline its attendance policy after former Mayor Gary Katica’s lengthy absence in the final months of 2020. Katica, the highly respected mayor of Belleair, announced in October that he had Parkinson’s disease. Without Katica present, the commission was limited to four members until the March 2021 elections brought in a new mayor and commissioners.
Town Manager J.P. Murphy — and commissioners who consider Katica a mentor — say that Katica, who died in March, did not have unexcused absences. The commission simply needed a “dispassionate” procedure for replacing absentee members, Murphy said.
Another order of business at the commission’s April 6 regular meeting: determining a line of succession in the event a mayor is absent, or unable to act for the town. Such lines of succession are pro forma in Florida municipalities. Former Deputy Mayor Karla Rettstatt, for instance, sat as acting mayor during Katica’s absence.
If the new mayor, Mike Wilkinson, is absent or becomes unable to perform his mayoral duties, Deputy Mayor Tom Kurey will act as mayor; third in line is Commissioner Tom Shelly, followed by the two new commissioners, Coleen Chaney and Thomas Nessler.
Another directive — instilled after anonymous Zoom users used foul language to shock meeting participants a few meetings ago — allows for instant removal of anyone “making personal, impertinent, or inappropriate remarks.”
The new commission policies require all commission meetings be held simultaneously via Zoom or other teleconference platform and outlines how the public signs in and asks questions during those video-conferenced meetings. The new rules state that three physically present members create a quorum, and allow other commissioners to vote via teleconference when a quorum is present at the physical meeting. Remotely attending members, however, cannot vote on any quasi-judicial matters.
Wilkinson also assigns each commissioner to a board that oversees a function of the town. The commissioners serve as advisers and report on committee activity during regular commission meetings:
• Finance Board — Wilkinson
• Historic Preservation Board — Nessler
• Infrastructure Board — Kurey
• Park & Tree Board — Shelly
• Planning and Zoning Board — Shelly
• Recreation Board — Chaney
• Fire Representative — Shelly
In other news
The commission agreed to pay $3.1 million to Kamminga & Roodvoets Inc. to finish road improvements on Osceola Road from Palm View East to Indian Rocks Road, and Palm View Road from Ponce de Leon Boulevard to Osceola Road.
The Tampa company will perform full-depth roadway reconstruction of both Osceola and Palm View roads, including new subsurface base, road base, asphalt and curbs. The company, which has performed street, sewer, and road infrastructure work for St. Petersburg, Clearwater and cities in Michigan, will also install new water mains and enlarge the pipes and flow ways of the storm collection system. This should end flooding at the intersection of Osceola and Indian Rocks roads, the company says.