Whether Pinellas County voters want amendments to the county charter as laid out by the review commission's two years of work most of them are paying for both sides of the legal contest that has been waged.
Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Beach and Dunedin were the only cities that did not join the other municipalities in the county to fight the amendments being included on the November 7 ballot, taxpayers are financially supporting the amendments, even though, if they ever became law, they would work against the best interests of their cities.
What the other 21 cities are in an uproar about - as well as many citizens in the county - is that the amendments rob the cities of powers they now enjoy and give them to the county.
The fear among many opponents of the amendments is that Pinellas County would become like Miami-Dade County, where the county reigns supreme in all matters.
Battling the amendments has been a team of lawyers - most of them city lawyers from the various cities - under the aegis of Pinellas Cities for Home Rule Committee which has a post office box in Clearwater.
Individual cities have kicked in funds to support the battle, indicating that the cities are very emphatic in not wanting their powers diminished.
One key element that has worried the cities and was in the front line of concern was the elimination of "dual referendum," adopted in 1999 but never utilized.
In the dual referendum, an individual city could opt out of a law that otherwise would be imposed countywide.
Other questions would make it more difficult for cities to annex land.
One big issue in a county where fire departments often take place of pride for sentimental reasons, fire chiefs have pointed out that with changes through the amendments communities could lose autonomy and power to control their own fire departments.
John Hubbard, well known municipal lawyer, has pointed out that the changes would determine all kinds of business regulations imposed by the county and municipal voters would be eliminated in the decision process.
With the amendments fundamentally changing the balance of power in the county, cities would become of less importance, and thus their residents would become more "county controlled" residents than controlling their own destinies within their cities.
Although the Charter Review Committee was independent and supposedly not a creature of the county, in August the County Commission, with only Karen Seel and Bob Stewart opposed, voted funds to support the amendments.
At the time, Stewart said, "it would only inflame tensions between the county and cities."
Some observers think that Steve Spratt, the county administrator, was brought here form Miami-Dade to accomplish the goal of making the county supreme and the final word in governance in Pinellas.
A strong battle has been waged by a coalition of citizens, home owners associations, chambers of commerce and civic organizations as well as the city government against the amendments.
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