BELLEAIR BEACH -- The regular City Council meeting scheduled Tuesday -- a day late because of the Labor Day holiday -- was canceled Monday about three hours before it was slated to begin.
The reason given was that power had been off because of the weekend storm and just restored late in the day and this hampered preparation for the meeting. So, reportedly, Mayor Mike Kelly canceled the meeting.
A routine of a second reading of an ordinance on compensation for the mayor and council members (the first reading produced a decision not to pay them), and a resolution on fixing an error in an ordinance relating to residential rental registration.
More significant, perhaps, according to one source, is that a large turnout was expected Tuesday night at the meeting to protest -- and hopefully reverse -- the council's action last week in bestowing a gift of $20,000 on the YMCA.
The YMCA is Kelly's "baby," and if it is denied funds Kelly will lose face with his fellow mayors (from Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Shore and Indian Shores) who support giving taxpayers' funds to the YMCA.
The council took the action because of pressure from non-residents, mostly from Indian Rocks Beach, who persisted in imploring the council to give the gift to the YMCA. The council caved in.
Few, if any Belleair Beach residents were present when the council decided to abide by the wishes of its neighbors to the south.
A few weeks ago when the YMCA money issue came up, when the audience was made up mostly of Belleair Beach residents, public sentiment was overwhelmingly -- almost unanimously -- in favor of not giving the money.
Last week, even Councilmember Bruce Cutler tellingly pointed out during the endless stream of non-residents who approached the podium and repeated, over and over, the same theme, that "mostly everyone in this crowd doesn't live here, and when this came up before, with mostly Belleair Beach residents here, they were against it."
Cutler is chairman of the Finance Committee that unanimously voted to eliminate the $20,000 gift to the YMCA from the 2005 budget. The council reversed that judgment of the committee.
The money given to the YMCA has nothing to do with resident participation, although the argument is erroneously framed on that predicate. The funds are an outright gift to a private organization. Many people question the appropriateness, let alone the legality of this.
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