Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Beach to consider special assessment ordinance

ST. PETE BEACH — Residents may be charged a new tax beginning next year to help pay for stormwater maintenance and improvements throughout the city.

Monday, the City Commission is expected to take the first step by approving a special assessment ordinance allowing the city to tax residents for any project or service tied directly to improving or protecting property in the city.

Building a revenue stream for the proposed stormwater utility system is the primary goal of the special assessment program, but city officials indicated earlier this month that the new ordinance could be used to tax property owners for legal fees related to the ongoing lawsuits over the city's comprehensive plan and land development regulations.

The action expected Monday does not actually levy a stormwater tax. That would come after completion of a fee study and a series of public hearings.

However, if and when a specific assessment is approved, the new stormwater utility fee would most likely be billed to property owners on their 2010-2011 property tax bills.

Just how much would be charged for each property is undecided.

The commission has already approved spending more than $69,000 for legal and other costs for a study to determine what and how stormwater utility revenues would be assessed.

City Manager Mike Bonfield said at least 10 municipalities in Pinellas County currently charge property owners a stormwater utility fee. He plans to present a report on typical charges in those cities.

In St. Petersburg, for example, all single-family properties are billed the same flat fee — $6.85 a month. Other properties from multifamily complexes to commercial buildings are charged a multiple of that rate.

Stormwater fees generally are based on the amount of impervious surface (paved or otherwise solid surface that will not absorb rainwater).

"I like the concept of having a vehicle for special assessments," said Commissioner Christopher Leonard at the commission's Nov. 10 meeting. "I am very cautious about taxation, but we have to have a plan and be prepared."

Commissioner Jim Parent described the special assessment proposal as "controlled, targeted and specific."

Mayor Michael Finnerty is opposed to instituting special assessments, explaining that "it just doesn't feel right for me right now."

Commissioner Bev Garnett cited rumors circulating among residents that the special assessment is really targeted at meeting the needs of future development projects.

"It's like your car, if you don't take it in for an oil change, the problems just get worse. I am not one to spend recklessly, but I think this is a needed expenditure," she said.

"Can you assure the residents that we would not be billing just to help development coming down the road?" she asked.

Commissioner Al Halpern stressed "the quicker we get this in place, the quicker we will have money."

"Where are you going with this thing?" asked resident Rick Falkenstein. "You owe it to the people of St. Pete Beach to not put us in this predicament. It will haunt you," he said.

"It scares me just as bad as the new health bill up in Congress," said his brother and former City Commissioner Bruno Falkenstein.

Resident Chet Chmielewski called the proposed special assessment ordinance a "financial ambush" for residents.

St. Pete Beach to consider special assessment ordinance 11/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 5:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The winner of 'Survivor: Game Changers?' It has to be Jeff Probst

    Blogs

     

  2. The Daystarter: Gov. Scott vetoes 'Whiskey and Wheaties Bill'; Culpepper's fate in 'Survivor' finale; to catch a gator poacher; your 2017 Theme Park Guide

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  3. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  4. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux

    Transportation

    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  5. Hailed as 'pioneers,' students from St. Petersburg High's first IB class return 30 years later

    Education

    ST. PETERSBURG — The students came from all over Pinellas County, some enduring hot bus rides to a school far from home. At first, they barely knew what to call themselves. All they knew was that they were in for a challenge.

    Class of 1987 alumni Devin Brown, from left, and D.J. Wagner, world history teacher Samuel Davis and 1987 graduate Milford Chavous chat at their table.