CLEARWATER — At the end of a recent City Council meeting, Mayor George Cretekos noted that voters had started getting ballots in their mailboxes.
"You probably noticed that the ballot is four pages long," the mayor told voters. "The city of Clearwater's referendums are the last two items on your ballot. Please make sure you vote for those two items."
With so many other races, from the presidential election on down, Clearwater's two referendums won't get much attention. They have to do with giving companies tax breaks for economic development; and making adjustments to the city's employee pension plan.
Tax breaks: Clearwater's government wants to be able to offer city property tax exemptions to new or expanding businesses that create new jobs.
This referendum would give the City Council the power to do that for companies that are creating at least 10 high-wage jobs. The company could get a tax break for up to 10 years for business improvements such as a new or expanded building, or new equipment purchased in connection with relocating or expanding.
How would the city make sure the companies fulfill their promises? The city says businesses would have to file an annual report.
City pensions: Voters will be asked whether the city of Clearwater's employee pension plan should be changed to reduce its short-term and also its long-term costs.
In order to keep the city's pension plan viable, these changes were collectively bargained and agreed to by the city and each of its three employees' unions: the Communications Workers of America, Fraternal Order of Police, and International Association of Fire Fighters.