BELLEAIR BEACH – Councilmember Lynn Rives spearheaded a drive to thwart the loading of extra fees on Belleair Beach residents at the City Council meeting Monday night.
Rives stalled a move by the Board of Adjustment to raise applications fees by 250 percent, from the present $200 to $500.
The veteran council member pointed out that a $300 increase would far outdistance consumer price index increases over the time since fees were last raised.
That was in 1995 when they went from $60 to $200.
A survey of other nearby jurisdictions showed none at the $500 level.
After much discussion, with Rives strongly holding the line, a compromise, on Councilmember Jeff Coulsen’s motion, set the new application fee at a flat $300.
On increasing fees for parking decals in the three beach access lots, Rives again held out against an increase. The proposal was to charge those who were rental residents $5 per decal from the present $2.
Rives wanted no fees at all charged for full-time residents who were property owners.
“We are nickel and diming people to death,” Rives said.
The proposed ordinance went back to the drawing board for reworking and eventual reconsideration.
On another money ordinance, the council considered a measure that would grant an additional $15,000 homestead exemption to those who qualified.
The qualification criteria was that the property already have filed the present $25,000 exemption allowed under law and that the household income be less than $22,693.
It is unlikely, considering the real estate values and condominium values in Belleair Beach that there are few, if any, households in the city with less than the qualifying income given the cost of taxes and insurance alone.
In its largesse, which undoubtedly has no real effect, the council agreed to up the extra homestead exemption to $25,000 (giving any property owner so qualified a total of $50,000 in exemptions).
The council approved a sewer rebate scheme which is supposedly adjusted to accommodate concerns from neighboring Belleair Shore.
That will have to receive approval and acceptance from the Belleair Shore Town Commission. It is an issue that has been wrestled with for the past several years with Belleair Shore dissatisfied, so far, with all offers made by Belleair Beach.
A special meeting will be held November 28 to review a proposed citizen survey which is part of the visioning program for the city that City Manager Reid Silverboard is conducting.
Silverboard, by the way, expressed some umbrage when the process of managing expenditures was questioned.
Obviously irked when the discussion on nit picking was raised, Silverboard said, “What am I here for? I am accountable.”
Paul Marino, the city lawyer, had to explain that the council’s function was legislative, not micro management of the government.
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