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North Pinellas news briefs for Wednesday, Sept. 18

Dunedin

Flood insurance is topic of town hall meeting

Upcoming National Flood Insurance Program changes, which could lead to dramatic flood insurance premium increases in Florida, will be discussed during a 6:30 p.m. town hall meeting today at the Dunedin Community Center, 1920 Pinehurst Road.

Dunedin planning director Greg Rice, members of his staff and an insurance expert will share general information and answer questions from Dunedin property owners who have filed multiple flood claims in the past, as well as from the public.

Call (727) 298-3198 for more information.

Have a say on proposed nuisance ordinance

Dunedin residents will get to weigh in on a proposed ordinance that would force banks and homeowners to clean up properties in long-term foreclosure as well as neglected rental or homesteaded properties, or risk losing the homes.

City staff has recommended that Dunedin create a chronic-nuisance ordinance similar to one adopted last year by Madeira Beach.

Right now, the staff said, banks and owners tend to ignore local code enforcement liens, which are subordinate to the mortgage on a property and are unenforceable on homesteaded properties.

Under the proposed city ordinance, a property with repeated code violations would be deemed a chronic nuisance and would be required to create a corrective action plan. If the city had to take action, city cleanup costs would be considered a special assessment and would be added to the home's tax bill.

The ordinance could also be used to crack down on residential and commercial properties that are the subject of multiple instances of criminal activity.

The measure appeared to win the preliminary support of city commissioners and code enforcement board members during a city workshop Tuesday. But Mayor Dave Eggers asked the staff to plan a town hall meeting to educate property owners and also hear any potential "unintended consequences" the ordinance might present.

The measure would then require two public hearings before it could be approved by commissioners.

Safety Harbor

City okays tax rate hike, keeps $51 streetlight fee

City commissioners stamped their final approval on a 10.4 percent tax hike Monday after months of debate.

Under the new tax rate, a person with a home assessed at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay $373 in property taxes. The same homeowner paid $338 last year.

The city also decided to keep its $51 streetlight fee for another year.

Both the budget and the streetlight fee passed 4-1, with Commissioner Nancy Besore casting no votes.

She voted against the budget for the second year in a row because of her opposition to the streetlight fee, which she believes disproportionately impacts poor people because it applies evenly to residents regardless of income or home size.

East Lake

Register now to take part in monthly farmers market

Vendors are needed for the East Lake Community Library's farmers market. The new market will be held on the front lawn of the library, 4125 East Lake Road, on the first Saturday of every month, starting Nov. 2. Hours will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors will be charged $25 for each event. For registration, visit eastlakelibrary.org.

Clearwater

Just the facts about squid, octopuses

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium's free education speaker series, "Making Waves: An Evening with Experts," continues Thursday with presenter Dr. Heather Judkins, a biology professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Judkins will talk about deep sea cephalopods such as squid, octopuses and cuttlefish.

Judkins, recipient of the 2012 Florida Marine Science Educators Association's John Beakley Award, will speak about her work on various cephalopod projects.

The event begins at 6 p.m. with a welcome and refreshments provided by Costco Wholesale, Judkins' presentation from 6:30 to 7:30, and a question and answer session until 8. It will be in the Bright House Theater at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 249 Windward Passage on Island Estates in Clearwater.

Visit SeeWinter.com to view the list of other lectures planned for this year.

Last public hearing on tax rate is set

The City Council will hold its final public hearing on the 2014 city budget and tax rate at 6 p.m. Thursday in City Hall.

The proposed tax millage rate is 5.1550 mills, which is the same rate as the last four years. The city will fill a gap between revenues and expenses by using $1.4 million from reserves, leaving $17.9 million in the rainy-day fund.

The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Tickets available for Taste of Clearwater

The annual A Taste of Clearwater will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Westfield Countryside, 27001 U.S. 19 N in Clearwater.

Tickets will cost $40 and may be purchased from the organizer of the event, the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, at 600 Cleveland St., Suite 100. For additional information, call (727) 461-0011 x229.

North Pinellas news briefs for Wednesday, Sept. 18 09/17/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 6:19pm]

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