CLEARWATER - Pinellas County voters rejected two key charter amendments that would have reduced the power of municipalities vis a vis a the county government.
Both of the amendments were defeated by a 57 to 43 margin.
Also turned down by voters in the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District was a 37 percent raise in fees from $190 to $260 a year.
PSFRD officials have said that without the $70 increase the district faced red ink by 2008.
Cities in the county mounted battles in the court and with a public education effort to block measures that would have removed city representation from future charter review committees and would have eliminated the "dual" referendum provision.
The "dual" referendum provision allows individual cities to opt out of a question that might have otherwise received approval in the county.
An amendment that transfers authority over water and navigation and mosquito control districts from the state to the county was approved.
Also okayed were two of three amendments relating to annexations. One said that the approval of a property owner agreeing to annexation must be in writing and the other barred cities from offering an material or money inducements to persuade a property owner to accept annexation.
A third annexation provision, that dealt with annexations by cities of commercial and industrial property would have required that 50 percent of the property to be annexed must be surrounded by consenting property owners and that the percent of property owners in the area for annexation must exceed 67 percent rather than the current 50 percent under state law.
Question 2, which was rejected, would have allowed the county administrator to fire senior members of his staff at will and without County Commission approval. This idea was also rejected in 2004.
The amendments that were rejected clearly show that voters do not want power in the county heavy weighted to the county government.
Question 2, which would have given the administrator great power, and questions 3 and 4, relating to the cities were all soundly rejected.
There has been a feeling that some in the county want county government to be dominant similar to Miami-Dade County. They point out that the county administrator, Steve Spratt, who formerly worked in Miami-Dade was brought here to implement that idea.
City officials strongly battled the amendments that would have reduced power of the cities. A lawsuit, funded by the cities, seeking to remove the questions relating to their power, was turned back by the circuit court which ruled that the voters should make the decision.
All but three of the 24 municipalities in the county joined in the court battle. Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Beach and Dunedin did not join the legal fight.
Tom Hafner of Belleair Beach won a second term on the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District, defeating Caroline Sofer by 350 to 311 votes. Hafner, who represents Belleair Beach and Belleair Shore, has been serving as chairman of the district commission.
Voters in Belleair Bluffs turned down a bid to extend elected officials terms of office from two years to three years and Indian Rocks Beach voters backed a city charter change that eliminates the city's power to exercise eminent domain takings for community development.
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