IRB Commission Discusses Budget Today With Library Under Fire
by Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - With budget discussions by the City Commission now getting down to the nitty-gritty, looming among some of the pie in the sky spending is what could become the biggest white elephant in Pinellas County.
IRB commissioners meet today to discuss budget matters.
Keep in mind, as one eagle-eyed citizen pointed out, this is a budget that is being submitted by a city manager who already has one foot in the taxicab (so to speak) that will be taking him out of town.
Had Steve Cottrell decided he wanted to be IRB's city manager after many successful years in Belleair, a budget for which he would be totally responsible would have been examined with more care.
That is speculation and no reflection on Cottrell's professional ability or integrity (both are of the highest order) but Mr. Citizen does have a point - going through the motions and living and dying on one's judgment are very far apart.
The white elephant, of course, is the plan to have Indian Rocks Beach join nearby sister cities in making available to its residents a library.
Commissioner Jose Coppen will be proposing that the library expenditure issue go to the people in a referendum. "If the people vote that they want an expanded library, so be it," Coppen says.
Coppen says he has backing from citizens for the referndum idea.
With the people's endorsement of the idea, then any grumbling in the future would sit right in the voters' laps.
Of course, what proponents of a library want, unarguably, is a waste. There are two state of the art libraries well less than eight miles from IRB. They are in Clearwater and Largo. Both are only a couple years old.
The plan to have Indian Rocks Beach go into the library business - that is, to expand beyond the modest offering now available - is a tribute to practicality and prudence blinded by human ego of the first magnitude.
Libraries, once established grow; that is a fundamental fact. And the growth takes place in the expansion of materials, personnel and, eventually, erecting a building to house all that wonderful stuff.
In the early going, "wish list" items that some folks wanted to spend hard to come by IRB taxpayers' money seemed a little outrageous given the hard times in the tax area that jurisdictions now face following the Legislature's re-adjustment of the tax picture.
But there they were. There were proponents - elected officials - who favored more than $1.4 million in capital spending projects.
Included in this boondoggling - all nice to have maybe - but not appropriate to those who take a realistic view toward life was the idea to cover the basektball court at Kolb Park.
Other items, certainly of the type that are easy to do without for the nonce, included a $50,000 for a a TV and sound system in the city hall, pedestrian shelters and crossovers on Gulf Boulevard and expansion of the skate park.
Also on tap today for the budget discussions are a look at code enforcement, Planning and Zoning and central services.
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