CLEARWATER - With the August 1 deadline looming for providing its Penny for Pinellas projects to the County, the Clearwater City Council discussed the list during their work session on Monday.
While most of the Council were satisfied with the list and what they perceived as support from the citizens who participated in the June 28th town hall meeting, Councilmember Bill Jonson saw opportunities for improvement.
He argued for including funds for stormwater improvements to defray the ever-escalating Stormwater Utility fee present on residents monthly utility bill. "That's basic infrastructure, and that's what the Penny is for," he said after the meeting.
He also proposed including funds to expand the City's sewer system to unserved areas that border Stevenson's Creek, complementing a pending dredging and cleanup of the creek with funds from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Jonson was averse to spending $6.25-million on an expansion/renovation of the Clearwater East Library. Noting that the Clearwater Main library is less than 4 miles away, he suggested that the East Branch be kept open, but that Penny 3 funds be spent instead at the Main Library where space exists to house any additional materials and equipment.
Citing the City's recently published Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan, Jonson proposed allocating $5.4-million of Penny 3 to improving Clearwater's sidewalk infrastructure. An appendix of the Master Plan contains five pages documenting incomplete sidewalk segments in the City, a condition that forces walkers and wheelchair users into the roadway. Jonson also suggested an additional $1-million for recreation trails.
Jonson suggested that two projects already on the list could be scaled back to provide Penny 3 funding for his new recommendations. The Downtown Streetscape project had already been cut by the Council from $25-million to $12.5-million; Jonson suggested cutting it back an additional $7.5-million. He also proposed reducing Penny 3 funding for a new City Hall from $25-million to $10-million.
The final hearing of Clearwater's proposed Penny 3 projects will be held during tonight's City Council Meeting, 6 p.m. at City Hall. An opportunity for public comment will be provided. You can view Clearwater's current list of projects on the City's web site at www.myclearwater.com/gov/depts/omb/docs_pub/penny2_book.pdf.
Citizens will have their opportunity to vote on the 10-year extension of Penny for Pinellas in a referendum during the March 2007 election.
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