BELLEAIR BEACH -- Belleair Beach's City Council held a public hearing on the millage rate and budget for 2006 and then swung into a long work session meeting that required members to plow through 16 items late into the night.
Among the discussion items -- to be acted on officially at a regular meeting -- was a measure to enable law enforcement to close beaches and parks during an emergency.
This got a lot of discussion with Councilmembers Stan Sofer, Jeff Coulsen and Lynn Rives on the short end of a 4-3 vote. They felt adequate law and procedure was already in place to handle any such situation.
The suggestion of adopting a tough ordinance against sexual offenders was rejected because of possible future legal pitfalls. Belleair Beach has no evident problem of this type and state law was deemed adequate.
A change in the city's waste pickup contractor was presented by Peter Cavalli, the city's administrative services coordinator (i.e. assistant to City Manager Reed Silverboard), who outlined a new deal with Republic Waste Services that appeared to have several advantages over the current contractor, Waste Management.
The council was not favorable to a entering into a recreation agreement with Belleair that would cost the city $10,000 a year for five years in order to have its residents in the town's recreation program.
Instead, Mayor Rudy Davis and councilmembers favored a deal where individual city residents would be reimbursed for joining the Belleair program, similar to what is done with the Largo Public Library.
While the council approved a millage rate of 2.41 mills this still represented a 17.83 percent over the rollback rate, and a functional tax increase.
Increased valuations of property in Pinellas County has made tax rolls zoom upward. Every taxpayer doesn't get hurt, but the built-in equities become obvious with new homeowners paying taxes far in excess of their neighbors while both are in comparable properties.
The 2.41 rate will produce $972,902 in ad valorem income for the city, $153,161 over last year.
The total budget for fiscal year 2006 is $5,285,854 which includes a capital projects fund of $3,010,850. The general fund totals $2,223,073.
Police expenses will be $562,374 in 2006 in a town of 1,500 people with no businesses and one main street, Gulf Boulevard. Belleair Bluffs, less than a mile away, has about 1,000 more residents, lots of businesses and pays $209,454 less than Belleair Beach for police services.
On a per capita basis, Belleair Beach is paying about $375 (the highest in the area) for police while Belleair Bluffs residents, on the same basis, are paying $141, a whopping $234 difference.
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