CLEARWATER -- The Clearwater City Council will take final action tonight at 6 p.m. at its regular meeting after a Monday morning workshop session that reviewed the legislation and was highlighted -- camp meeting style -- by recognizing employees with long-term service.
Those employees who had up to 35 years of service with the city were greeted with cheers and cries of joy as though they had surpassed the feats of the legendary Babe Ruth and Lance Armstrong.
Even so, the meeting was lengthened as Bill Horne, the city manager, read the citations, putting one in mind of the dispatches sent to Her Majesty the Queen from the front at Sebastopol.
In all, 60 or more city employees were on hand -- most of them to receive plaudits, the remainder there to participate in the whooping and hollering.
Frank Hibbard, the young but prematurely grey-haired mayor, had made his way into the room earlier with the aid of a crutch, favoring a leg that had been perhaps injured while he was practicing to perfect his skills at heaving a baseball 60 or so feet.
Thus, as the meeting moved into high speed all those present were collecting money from the city for their labor and endeavoring to participate in helping to spend the money the city collects from the taxpayers.
Once the pep rally for employees was over, the council settled down to routine business for a work session.
One startling expense, it seems, is the agreement between the city and the Sheriff's Office in which during fiscal year 2006 the city will pay $531,209.36 for fingerprint and crime scene services. That figures out to an extraordinary $10,215 a week.
On the millage rate, there was an insistence Monday by some city officials that because the rate is the same as it was last year there is no tax increase.
However, while that political ploy is normal and par for the course, taxes in the aggregate go up by 13.74 percent. That is derived by comparing the difference between the 5.753 millage rate and the rolled back rate.
The rolled back rate is that rate which would raise the same amount of money in 2006 as was raised in the 2005 tax year.
Perhaps every single taxpayer in Clearwater will not experience an increase, but all taxpayers should keep in mind that it is not rates that define tax increases.
If you pay more, bottom line, in 2006 than you did in 2005, that's a tax increase according to state law.
Also on tap for tonight is final approval to allow the establishment of the Clearwater Cay Development District which will give the developer special powers to borrow money by issuing bonds.
The city is not involved directly in the financing and is not liable for any of the elements, but its approval is necessary for the developer to proceed in this way, by okaying a "development district."
The developer is Dave Clark, who is listed in Florida's corporate records as a functionary in 56 separate corporations.
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