Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Indian Rocks Beach garbage, sewer fees poised to rise by 60%

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Huge increases in sewer and garbage rates appear assured here as the city struggles to return its utility operations to profitability.

Tuesday, the City Commission tentatively approved 60 percent increases in residential solid waste and sewer fees. Similar increases also were approved for commercial customers. A final vote is set for Aug. 28.

"Anybody who is a commissioner does not like to talk about, vote on, or have any part of increases," Mayor R. B. Johnson said. "But we are the ones who have to make this decision. It's us five. This is one of the toughest times I can recall being a commissioner."

The proposed garbage rate increase means that single-family homeowners will pay $21.30 a month instead of the current $13.31 a month.

Similarly, monthly residential sewer fees will jump from $23.72 to $37.95.

A higher, 80 percent increase (to $42.70 monthly) for sewer fees was rejected, largely because the city is considering selling its sewer system to the county.

The unanimous decision came after months of discussion and accusations from some residents that the city's finances were badly mismanaged.

"I am upset by these numbers, as well. There are a lot bigger errors than I even expected," said Commissioner Daniel Torres.

"As a city we are in a very bad position, and I don't want to see us get in a worse position. I want to get on the right course."

A consultant hired earlier this year found both funds were losing money, had no reserves left and would continue to depend on infusions of taxpayer dollars without significant fee increases.

"We quickly determined that since 2001 to 2008 the sewer fund has been operating at an annual loss," said Andrew Burnham, vice president of Burton & Associates.

By the end of this year, transfers from the general fund to support the solid waste fund since 2001 will total about $440,000, according to the Burton study. Likewise, transfers to the sewer fund will total about $770,000.

Without the rate increases, continuing losses in the two funds would require more than $4-million in general fund loans over the next five years, according to Burnham.

Within five years, the proposed fee increases will result in the funds becoming self-sufficient.

In addition, the money "borrowed" from the general fund since 2001 will be repaid and reserves will be created equivalent to three months of working capital.

Burnham urged the city to review its sewer and garbage rates on a regular basis to ensure that the funds remain self-sustaining.

Some residents accused past city administrations of making illegal or improper money transfers to keep the two utility funds solvent.

"The loans from the general fund were advances and were legal," countered City Attorney Maura Kiefer, while adding that the action "was not the greatest accounting procedure."

Ed Pinero, a former city commissioner, urged the city to ask the state attorney general for a legal opinion on whether the city was required to pay back the general fund loans.

"We're not stupid," he said. "Listen to what we have to say. We put you up there to listen to us. Nobody denies that you need an increase, but how much it is is at issue."

Indian Rocks Beach garbage, sewer fees poised to rise by 60% 08/16/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 17, 2008 7:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921
  2. Long day of diplomacy: Tillerson visits Afghanistan, Iraq

    Military

    BAGHDAD — Far from the Washington murmurs about his future, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to two of America's enduring war zones Monday, prodding leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq to reach out to longtime rivals.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, speaks Monday at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, accompanied by Gen. John Nicholson, left, and Special Charge d’Affaires Amb. Hugo Llorens.
  3. Head-on crash kills Wesley Chapel teacher and Zephyrhills man

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Two men, including a high school math teacher, were killed Monday in a head-on crash on Morris Bridge Road, deputies said.

    Shackelford
  4. Pinellas sees slight increase in black and first-year teachers

    Blogs

    A year after the Pinellas County school district was chastised in a state report for clustering inexperienced teachers in the state's most struggling schools, the district has reported a first look at its teacher corps.

    The Pinellas County school district has taken a first look at first-year teachers in struggling schools and minority hiring, both of which ticked slightly upward.
  5. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family

    Editorials

    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …