Belleair Beach Keeps 1.98 Millage, Grants Employees 2% Increase
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BEACH - The City Council Monday night in a special meeting decided to stick with the current millage rate, 1.98, for fiscal year 2010 and approved a 2 percent merit raise for city employees.
The latter was predicated on a reduction in what the city pays for dependent health insurance, which is being cut from 50 percent to 25 percent.
That reduction in health insurance premium payments for the families of employees realizes a $14,000-plus savings for the city against an additional outlay of $8,170. The net is almost $6,000 to the plus side for the city.
While Councilmember Dick Crowl said he thought keeping the current millage was cutting things too closely, the vote was 6-0 in favor. David Dumville was absent.
Among the council's choices was the option to go to a 2.178 rate or to the rolled back rate, 2.3692.
By keeping the current rate, Belleair Beach taxpayers will actually pay lower taxes - bottom line - because property values are down.
The rolled back rate is the millage rate that produces the same amount of revenue as the previous year's rate. So had the council opted for that, taxpayers would generally have paid the same in taxes in 2010 as in the current year.
A regular meeting of the council followed the special meeting and one, perhaps inharmonious, note was struck on the domestic front possibly in one household.
Jan Rives, wife of Mayor Lynn Rives, appeared during citizen comments and protested the cutback of availability of parking spaces for residents at Morgan Street Park.
The city reserved only three such spots for residents and gave up the rest in very careful negotiations to meet county, state and federal requirements for adequate parking in conjunction with beach renourishment.
Because Belleair Beach was hamstrung on parking availability, particularly in the southern part of the city, the county finally accepted and signed off on the agreement.
Jan Rives's threat to compile residents' signatures on a petition to the council to re-visit the question could provide complications for the renourishment picture. Beach work is scheduled for next year.
The irony is that Mayor Rives was the leading figure in finally coming up with the solution and getting the county to go along with what might otherwise have been deemed inadequacies on Belleair Beach's part.
"I wonder if they (Lynn and Jan Rives) are having breakfast together these days?" one observer commented humorously.
In other action, the council will consider a beefed up ordinance on what measures will be taken with properties that are not being maintained due to foreclosure or abandonment.
The plan is to mow the grass at such properties after due notice is given and then lien the property. Discussed was an administrative fee of $250 plus the cost of mowing.
Sara Kolodisa and Michael Strella were appointed to the Park and Recreation Board.
A proposal by a vendor for an electronic sign at the new city hall was interrupted and cut short by Crowl when it developed that the sign would carry an 8 to 1 ratio of ads to announcements.
Crowl said, "This is not a commercial city and not an advertising community." His colleagues agreed and the presentation ended.
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