Replenishment Problem for Sand in Belleair Beach Solved by Parking Plan
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BEACH - The sand replenishment problem, centered on providing adequate parking to meet state and county requirements, which has been gnawing worriedly at the City Council, has been solved.
As a result, Belleair Beach will be in the replenishment plans for next year.
The state Department of Environmental Protection and the county accepted a city plan to make all parking, with the exception of two spots, at Morgan Park open to the public.
The city was faced with the problem of finding the required parking south of Morgan Park to meet legal requirements, but the spaces were just not there.
Following up on last week's budget workshop, the council, at its meeting Monday night set a tentative millage rate of 2.3692. This is the assigned rollback rate and if it were utilized would produce a $97,000 surplus based on the current working budget for fiscal year 2010.
But the key word in that is tentative. The council will almost certainly keep the current millage of 1.98. Using the higher figure right now is for safety valve purposes. The rate can be lowered before the final action, but cannot be raised.
With property values 6 percent lower than had been originally anticipated, the rollback rate - which is the amount that would produce the same amount of ad valorem revenue as the previous year's budget based on property valuations - correspondingly went up.
In striving to keep the current 1.98 millage, the council, in a budget workshop July 1, heard from Nancy McCollum, the city manager, and Pete Cavalli, who is in effect an assistant city manager, on ways to reduce expenditures.
Like every other jurisdiction, Belleair Beach is hard pressed in its budget.
A meeting June 17 began the battle to restrain the budget and the city staff, headed by McCollum, was charged with reporting back with ideas.
Putting all the figures together resulted in a shortfall of $343,295.
One savings was discovered in not outsourcing mowing. Cutbacks in other projects will allow time for public works to do the mowing and the city will be $36,440 ahead.
Another $50,000 was saved in premiums in adjusting the amount the new city hall will be insured for. Instead of full coverage of the $3 million building, the coverage will be for $1 million. The larger insured amount was in the event of direct hit from a Level 5 hurricane, which is most unlikely. Such a storm would level everything in Belleair Beach.
All the efforts managed to get the shortfall to about $50,000 which will be made up out of the city's more than adequate reserves.
In Monday's meeting the council approved expenditures for audio/visual equipment that came in considerably lower on bids than had been anticipated. Approved was a total of $35,328.54, which was almost $10,000 lower than first thought.
Other equipment that is planned for has been deferred until more funds are available.
Significantly, the video taping of the meetings, which is done with all volunteer work, has not exceeded $5,000. Bright House Network which assisted in the set up, originally gave $10,000 for the project.
Promoters for a "run" over the new causeway and bridge were temporarily rebuffed in their efforts to get the city to participate as a "turnaround" spot in the race that will go from Belleair Bluffs, across the bridge, and back.
The race would close the bridge from 7:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on November 14 and promoters were told they had to get permission from Belleair Beach and Bluffs to carry out their plans.
As it turns out, the bridge is still owned and will be owned by the contractors until it is completed. The contractor okayed it.
Four members of the Belleair Beach council - Mayor Lynn Rives and members Stan Sofer, Kathy Mortensen and Richard Crowl - objected because they wanted an alternative plan that would not close the bridge and would provide insurance for anything taking place on city property. The issue will be revisited.
David Dumville was appointed as a voting delegate to the Florida League of Cities 83rd annual conference. Stan Sofer was named as a board member to the Suncoast League of Cities and Dumville was selected as alternate.
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