The lines are being drawn for a head-on collision between the county and municipalities with the proposed revised county charter the fulcrum of the issue.
Some provisions in the proposed charter cooked up by a 13-member commission that included nine citizens and four elected officials - County Commissioner Susan Latvala, St. Petersburg City Councilmember John Bryan, Sheriff Jim Coats and state Sen. Jim Sebesta.
One idea in the new charter would remove the "dual referendum," which says that any major changes in the county must pass a countywide referendum plus be approved by the maajority of voters in each municipality.
City officials see the charter changes as a power grab by the county.
To fight this, the cities are banding together to mount a media campaign and go to court seeking an injunction to rule the proposals they feel undermine municipalties off the November ballot.
Largo has already authorized up to $30,000 to have its city lawyer play a role in the campaign and Paul Marino, city lawyer for Belleair Beach and Kenneth City, will be on the team as well.
City officials fear that if the new charter were adopted their cities would lose many self-rule powers.
There is a strong feeling in the county that elements on the County Commission would like to see Pinellas County take on the governmental format of Miami-Dade and that is why Steve Spratt, who worked in Miami-Dade, was brought here as county administrator.
Alan Bomstein, chairman of the charter review commission, reportedly has called the cities "paranoid" about a power grab.
There has been talk of putting all fire fighting services under county control, and arguments are constantly made about the efficiency and economy of having the Sheriff's Office replace some municipal police departments.
In the less than three months to election day, a struggle will unfold in the county with the cities trying to persuade residents to reject proposals on the charter that would strip their cities of power.
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