INDIAN SHORES — Recently, state lawmakers in Tallahassee passed a bill that allows beach communities to enact ordinances forbidding electric bikes on the sand. With that in place, the town of Indian Shores wasted no time in passing such an ordinance at a June 8 meeting of the Town Council.
The council first addressed a previous ordinance on the subject of bicycles that was tabled at a March 23 meeting. The earlier version of the no-bikes ordinance eliminated all bikes from the beach, because at the time, state law did not distinguish between motorized and manual bicycles. Once council members knew that Florida lawmakers were considering an amendment allowing for the restriction of electric bicycles, they tabled the no-bikes ordinance ordinance until they saw which way the legal wind was blowing.
As a point of order, Town Attorney Regina Kardash explained that the council needed to address the previously tabled ordinance before they could proceed with a public hearing of the newer ordinance that complied with the newly amended state law. The council voted unanimously 5-0 to reject the tabled ordinance.
The first reading of the ordinance prohibiting electric bicycles and motorized devices on the beach passed unanimously 5-0. Just before the vote, council member Mike Petruccelli asked that, in advance of the second reading of the ordinance next month, language should be integrated into the ordinance that allowed exceptions for motorized wheelchairs or electric devices for the handicapped in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As an example, Petruccelli pointed out the electric beach wheelchair donation that the town had accepted at a recent meeting.
Kardash said that ADA requirements were already factored in, but agreed to include ADA exceptions in the actual wording for the second reading. Both Mayor Patrick Soranno and Police Chief Rick Swann expressed no objections to the added wording.
Fines and citations
The council also heard the first reading of an amended ordinance providing for a penalty for animal owners who neglect to remove dog excrement deposited on public or private property (other than the property owned by the dog owner or person escorting the dog on a leash). The ordinance passed unanimously 5-0.
The fine for a first offense is $100, rising to $250 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.
Monument project update
Town engineer Larry Fluty gave an update on the monument project redesign and bid documents. After receiving two initial bids last month for the project that came in at more than twice the amount projected, it became necessary to restructure the design to make the project affordable for the town. Even with a grant infusion, the project would have been well over budget. Minor adjustments to the design were hammered out during a workshop earlier in the day and approved to resend out for bids by a vote of 5-0 by the council.
Cost of living, merit increases approved
The council approved a cost-of-living adjustment as recommended by the Consumer Price Index national average of 1.4 percent ending Dec. 31, 2020 in preparation for the fiscal year 2021-22 budget. Merit increases for non-union personnel of 4 percent will go into effect Oct. 1, 2020. Both the COLA and merit increases were unanimously approved by a vote of 5-0. Susan Scrogham, director of finance and personnel, requested the town’s approval for these increases in her memorandum “so we may begin building our FY21-22 budget.”