CLEARWATER - The Bond Validation lawsuit filed by the City of Clearwater against "the Taxpayers, Property Owners, and Citizens of the City of Clearwater" has been scheduled for trial on November 8th and 9th. It will be held at the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court Street in Clearwater, and presided over by Judge Nellie Khouzam. Proceedings are scheduled to begin each day at 9AM.
The purpose of the suit, Civil Action number 05004315-CI-021 entitled "Complaint For Validation", was to get the court to "validate" the issuance of $15 million Improvement Revenue Bonds, whose proceeds are to fund the City's portion of the Beach Walk construction project. The validation is needed to protect the future bondholders from the risk of default should the City of Clearwater later be found to be without the authority to issue the bonds.
But that $15-million figure is now suspect; the lowest-cost proposal for construction came in at $26-million, $9-million more than City staff and consultants had estimated. City spokesperson Doug Mathews said, "We have not yet determined how much we will be bonding... a final decision on how much to bond will be made by the Council at a later date."
A class action lawsuit filed by Anne Garris and Suzanne Boschen was consolidated into the City's suit and will be heard at the same time. Garris and Boschen allege that certain terms of the City's agreement with the Hyatt developers involving Beach Walk were in violation of the City Charter.
Regarding the City's suit, Assistant City Attorney Paul Hull said earlier this year, "There is no redress being sought against any taxpayer or citizen...there's no need for anyone to respond in writing, but if they want to, they can."
But during arguments at a hearing regarding the Garris/Boschen suit, Michael Davis, an outside attorney representing the City, seemed to invite public involvement, saying, "The Notice to Show Cause that's published gives all people who have an interest in this matter the right to appear at the hearing."
Who might have an interest? All of the City's citizens, for starters. They are both the defendant in the City's suit and the taxpayers who will be responsible for paying the principal and interest on the City's proposed bond issue of between $15-million and $24-million. According to Florida statute 75.07, any property owner, taxpayer, citizen or person interested may become a party to the action by moving against or pleading to the complaint at the hearing.
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