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Safety Harbor keeps same tax rate

SAFETY HARBOR — Wheedling for input, the mayor seemed disappointed Wednesday that he couldn't get more residents' comments before the City Commission passed the city's budget.

Both public hearings for the city's 2012-2013 budget fell during meetings that also hosted controversial topics. Yet while big turnouts filled the small chambers, few wanted to opine on the $56 million budget.

The commission voted 4-1 to approve it. Commissioner Nancy Besore cast her vote against it, as an opponent of the city's new street light fee.

The commission also decided unanimously to keep the millage rate at 3.3808 for the third year in a row. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt property value. So the owner of a home valued at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption pays $338.08 under the 2013 rate.

With declining property values, the city expects to collect less in ad valorem taxes than it did the previous year.

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Also at Wednesday's meeting, the commission received a report and city attorney's opinion on the city's obligations and rights in maintaining stormwater systems. The best management practices emerged after a particularly rainy summer caused drainage and erosion issues around Safety Harbor.

The report clarified the city's role with creeks that fall within private property boundaries, a much-debated subject after Bishop Creek flooded during Tropical Storm Debby.

Most notably, the report noted that the city is not responsible for erosion on private property. While the city can make improvements to the drainage easements it owns over the creek, it doesn't have to. And the city must make necessary repairs to stormwater pipes, but not repairs solely to protect private property.

"This would go beyond reasonable care," the attorney's memo said, "and may actually be an inappropriate expenditure of public money for private benefit."

The commission expects to discuss possible Bishop Creek repairs at its next meeting.

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The Safety Harbor Community Center gymnasium will soon carry the name of a longtime local resident.

Patrick H. Daily sponsored the city's youth basketball league for the last 25 years. He aimed his efforts at making recreational activities available to underprivileged children, City Manager Matt Spoor said.

When Daily died Sept. 10 at age 63, his obituary asked for donations to the city's recreation department, in lieu of flowers.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or swang@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Safety Harbor keeps same tax rate 09/21/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 21, 2012 8:38pm]

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