INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- Commissioner Bob Stewart, newly elected to the County Commission, showed up at the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission meeting Tuesday night to give a rundown of current issues.
He got a polite and affable earful in return.
Some of the news the veteran commissioner brought concerned beach accesses, beach renourishment, and undergrounding status (at a standstill).
One element, the persistent attempt by the County Commission to include municipalities in the Pinellas Suncoast Transportation Authority that do not want to be included, will not descend felicitously on the ears of folks like Mayor John Robertson of Belleair Shore who is a vocal opponent of the move.
Belleair Shore and Belleair Beach, along with Treasure Island, St. Pete Beach, South Pasadena, Kenneth City and Tierra Verde do not want to be included, and reportedly have received assurances from Sen. Dennis Jones that it will not come up in the Legislature.
The Legislature controls the PSTA.
Stewart said that in a meeting with the state's legislative delegation the County Commission, along with the Metropolitan Planning Organization, had gotten a commitment from Sen. Jim Sebesta that he would back the county's desire and bring it up in the Legislature.
Messrs. Jones and Sebesta no doubt will be conferring.
The debacle at Pineallas Suncoast Fire and Rescue is still much on the minds of Indian Rocks Beach commissioners, as Commissioner Bill Ockunzzi urged Stewart to back a county oversight board for PSF&R.
The district's proposal for a new tax went down to an overwhelming defeat, 75-25, last week in a referendum. An earlier request for an oversight board was turned down by Gay Lancaster, chief assistant county administrator. The reasons given are largely jurisdictional because the Legislature controls the fate of the fire district.
Citing tourism as the county's top industry, Ockunzzi and Commissioner Jim Palamara pointed out that Indian Rocks Beach maintains that industry by cleaning its beaches, providing an attractive city for visitors and tourists, but does not get enough of its tax money back from the county.
Mayor Bob DiNicola, back in harness after major surgery from which he is recovering nicely, took a more appreciative view and thanked Stewart, saying the county had always been fair with Indian Rocks Beach.
City Attorney Andy Salzman wanted direction on the lawsuit filed against the fire district which was rendered moot for the most part by the election day referendum.
But there are other issues in the complaint for injunction including the claim that the fire district is operating outside the bounds of its charter by providing services to the Redingtons at the expense of taxpayers in Indian Shores, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore and the Oakhurst section of the mainland.
DiNicola stuck to the position he has held all along -- that the city has nothing to do directly with the fire district, that the fire district stands alone and separate from the cities and the people served by the PSF&R should determine through their votes what happens.
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