Saturday, November 25, 2017
News Roundup

County Commission votes for makeover of Palm Harbor Community Services Agency

RECOMMENDED READING


PALM HARBOR — Phil Phillips is a member of the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, an appointed board that oversees the Palm Harbor and East Lake libraries and Palm Harbor recreation.

Phillips hoped to serve again next year, but now he's not sure he'll be invited back.

Last week the Pinellas County Commission passed an ordinance that changes the makeup of PHCSA. In the future, county commissioners will choose the appointees for four of the board's seven seats.

The change was spurred by the recent creation of a new taxing district in East Lake, an unincorporated area east of Lake Tarpon, to support the East Lake Community Library.

"If I apply to serve on the new board, there's a strong chance that the commissioners might not pick me,'' Phillips said.

The board now has two seats filled by appointees of the Friends of the Palm Harbor Library, two seats filled by the Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, two seats filled by the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce and one seat filled by a County Commission appointee.

The County Commission voted Tuesday to change that so the commission will have the majority of appointees.

Beginning Nov. 1, the PHCSA board will have one appointee from the Palm Harbor Library, one from Palm Harbor recreation, one from the East Lake Library Advisory Board and four County Commission appointees — two of those from East Lake and two from Palm Harbor, the unincorporated area west of Lake Tarpon.

The Greater Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce will lose its seats.

So, potentially, could Phillips, who is one of two current appointees from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

"It's like they told us, you guys are not doing a good job, and we're sending up four people who will do a better job,'' said Phillips.

Another PHCSA member, Marcus Harrison, a representative from the Palm Harbor Chamber, also expressed frustration. He's disappointed that the chamber's seats were eliminated.

"The chamber has a long history with PHCSA and has always communicated information to the business community about PHCSA issues,'' he said. "It takes people who understand the unique environment of PHCSA to serve on the board.''

The reason for the changes: PHCSA, originally set up in 1985 to oversee just Palm Harbor's library and recreation taxing districts, now must pull members from East Lake too because of the new library taxing district there, said Chief Assistant County Administrator Mark Woodard.

"It used to be everyone came from Palm Harbor, but that just isn't the case now,'' he said.

Though some residents may have been surprised by the County Commission decision Tuesday, Woodard said it wasn't done in a vacuum.

"I have vetted all of this to Rex Haslam, the chair of PHCSA, and we received comments also from Ron Schultz of the East Lake Library Advisory Board, and I believe that each of those gentlemen floated early drafts to the stakeholders,'' he said.

Haslam said he believes the community will ultimately work well under the new system.

"Right now, though, it's just a matter of understanding how this will all move forward,'' he said. "The only thing that concerned me was that I did want each of the three entities (Palm Harbor Library, Palm Harbor Recreation and East Lake Library) to have two representatives, but they thought a nine-member board was too big, I guess.''

County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who represents Palm Harbor, said Tuesday that she hopes the new ordinance will bring about another change. "I hope that everyone can start thinking about it as one community,'' she said.

She also spoke in favor of eliminating the chamber's seats, pointing out that there is now more than one chamber serving East Lake and Palm Harbor. "And if you were talking to (the other chambers), they'd say that they represent the citizens as well."

The ordinance passed 5-1, with Commissioner Norm Roche dissenting. Ken Welch was absent due to the death of his father.

So, how can citizens become PHCSA members?

In the coming weeks, Pinellas County will begin advertising, primarily through its website, pinellascounty.org, as well as through social media, that residents of the East Lake and Palm Harbor taxing districts may apply for a PHCSA seat.

Although an official application deadline has not been announced, by the end of October county commissioners plan to review the applications and discuss appointments, Woodard said.

In January, the new PHCSA board members will attend their first meeting.

For now, even chairman Haslam, a recreation appointee who planned to serve the agency in some capacity next year, is not sure what the future holds.

"It's all in the works," he said, "and we just have to see how it plays out.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at (727) 445-4163 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.

Comments

No. 7 Florida finishes No. 17 Gonzaga in 2OT; No. 1 Duke up next for Gators

PORTLAND, Ore. — Jalen Hudson scored a career-high 35, including eight 3-pointers, and No. 7 Florida downed No. 17 Gonzaga 111-105 in double overtime Friday night at the PK80 Invitational. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza added a career-high 26 poin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

LAKELAND — The game — and the season — were supposed to be over.Lakeland was set to exact revenge. The Dreadnaughts had the lead and the ball in the final three minutes and were heading for a field goal. Then it happened. The magic continued.Plant’s ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Region football: Venice 48, Tampa Bay Tech 17

VENICE — Tampa Bay Tech not only had to stop a hot receiver in Friday night’s Class 7A region final against Venice, but a hot running back as well. That proved to be too much.Indians receiver Jaivon Heiligh caught 14 passes for 193 yards and three to...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Region football: Armwood 31, Ocala Vanguard 17

SEFFNER — Armwood appeared to be on its way to yet another rout through the first 24 minutes of football Friday night.James Miller delivered a crunching hit on the opening kickoff. The defense looked suffocating, holding Ocala Vanguard to a mere 23 y...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Region football: Immokalee 42, Lakewood 14

IMMOKALEE — The final score wasn’t truly indicative of what transpired on Friday night.Lakewood fell to a dynamic Immokalee squad 42-14 in a tough environment in a Class 5A region final.The Spartans (9-2) forced three turnovers and held Immokalee (12...
Updated: 6 hours ago
State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

CLEARWATER — Stocked with a wealth of Division I-A commits and prepared by a heavy-duty schedule, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna spent three months building for Friday night’s Class 3A state semifinal game.The Lions played at another level against top-s...
Updated: 6 hours ago

State semifinal football: Hialeah Champagnat Catholic 38, Cambridge Christian 0

TAMPA — Hialeah Champagnat Catholic was well on its way to a third unanswered touchdown, but the Lions just couldn’t stop blocking their own path. In one second-quarter drive during Friday’s 2A state semifinal against Cambridge Christian, Champagnat ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON — You don’t often sense frustration in captain Steven Stamkos’ voice, at least not this season. With the Lightning off to its best start in franchise history, there haven’t been many reasons to chide. Every criticism seems nitpicky. But af...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s predictions for Tampa Bay’s 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:MATTY ICE-FOLLIESRick Stroud, @NFLStroud: T...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

PITTSBURGH — Miami spent the better part of 13 months cultivating the nation’s longest winning streak behind a series of comebacks that returned the swagger to "The U" in all of its "Turnover Chain" glory. Sluggish through the first half against Pitt...
Updated: 7 hours ago