ST. PETE BEACH — Although there are no municipal candidates on Tuesday's ballot, residents of two beach cities will be asked to vote on referendum questions ranging from gambling to certifying future elections.
St. Pete Beach voters will be asked to consider two ballot questions:
• A prohibition against casino gambling unless specifically approved by voters.
• An update of the city's five-year capital improvements program.
The first was first proposed by Commissioner Linda Chaney.
"The reason I brought this forth is that I have been told this is coming. I think it is only fair that the people get to make this decision," Chaney said at a commission meeting several months ago.
Chaney said she thinks the state may decide to allow individual municipalities to decide whether to allow casino-style gambling within their city limits.
If voters approve the proposed ballot question this week, the city's charter would be changed to require a vote by 65 percent of city residents before gambling is allowed.
"Hopefully, gambling will not be an issue, but if it is, it will be up to the residents," Chaney said.
The proposed charter amendment affects only casino-style gambling that is currently illegal.
It would not affect bingo games or other "penny-ante" games sponsored by charitable or other groups.
St. Pete Beach voters will also be asked to approve an amendment to the city's comprehensive plan.
The vote would not be necessary except for a new state law requiring all municipalities to update their five-year capital improvements program and spending plan by Dec. 1 each year.
St. Pete Beach's capital improvements plan is part of its comprehensive plan. And because city voters previously approved a charter change requiring ballot approval of any change to the city's comprehensive plan, this update must be submitted to the voters.
Since regular elections are not held in November every year, City Manager Mike Bonfield said the city will be required to spend about $17,000 every other year for a special election to meet both the charter mandate and state law.
Ironically, there are no projects listed in the city's capital improvements program update this year.
City commissioners are considering asking voters to change the charter next year to eliminate the need for annual voter approval of the capital improvements program.
Meanwhile, Indian Rocks Beach voters will be asked to approve a charter change that would designate the Pinellas County Canvassing Board as the city's official election canvassing board.
Three registered voters who are residents of the city serve as the city's canvassing board to certify the results of each municipal election.