City offices offering early retirement
The city of Largo is offering early retirement incentives to a wide pool of workers this year, hoping to ease budget woes from Amendment 1 and the lagging economy.
Last year, the city focused on departments targeted for reductions. About 15 employees were eligible and just six decided to retire early. This year, 102 of the city's 815 full-time employees are eligible. They include police and fire employees 55 and older with at least 10 years of service and other city employees 591/2 or older with at least five years of service.
Incentives include up to a year of health insurance and options for three to six months of pay for certain employees. Workers who choose to retire early must do so by April 1.
The city, which expects to cut about $2-million from its general fund budget next year, doesn't plan to hire workers to fill vacated jobs this budget year or next unless there's a public safety requirement to do so, human resources director Susan Sinz said.
Community budget meeting set for Monday
Mayor Pat Gerard and the Largo City Commission are holding a community budget meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.
Residents are invited to provide input. The meeting will be held at the Largo Public Library, Jenkins Room, 120 Central Park Drive.
Vigil offers support to violence victims
The Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force will hold a Memorial Candlelight Vigil.
The event, in memory of those affected by domestic violence and in support of family members and friends of victims, will be at 7 p.m. today, at the reflecting park at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive.
For information, call Wendy Loomas, (727) 432-2529.
Holiday lights return to Botanical Gardens
In honor of Tampa Bay hosting the Super Bowl, Pinellas County's Florida Botanical Gardens is turning on its holiday display once again.
The display, dubbed "Garden Light-Up Extravaganza,'' is made up of more than 425,000 lights. Approximately 55,000 visitors saw the display during its first run, which ended Jan. 4.
"We're inviting people who are here for the Super Bowl to come and see our gardens and enjoy the lights,'' said Mary Burrell, a spokesperson for Pinellas County. "I also remember hearing from residents that they wanted to come through again as well, and this is their opportunity too.''
Garden Light-Up Extravaganza is ongoing from 6 to 10 p.m. through Feb. 1. The Florida Botanical Gardens is at 12520 Ulmerton Road, inside Pinewood Cultural Park, Largo.
For information, call (727) 582-2100 or visit www.flbg.org.
Nature preserve to get more for arsenic tests
Largo plans to spend about $140,000 more for arsenic testing near the Largo Central Park Nature Preserve.
City commissioners last week gave initial approval for the expenditure. Last summer, the commission authorized about $98,000 to conduct a site assessment to comply with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The area was closed after tests found low levels of contaminated soil across the site.
Several years ago, a city study found elevated arsenic levels in several locations. In 2004, the city informed the DEP about various steps taken by Largo to protect park users and the environment.
It took about four years for the state division of Waste Management to inform the city it had to do more testing.
City officials and a consultant think there may be a couple of culprits: pressure-treated wood used to build the tower or the fact that the area, near Highland Avenue and East Bay Drive, was a landfill from the late 1960s until 1981.