Beach property owners organize
As reported in the St. Petersburg Times (Home values ignite revolt, March 26), we are forming an organization, the Clearwater Beach Property Tax Relief Fund (CB-PTRF), to protest unfair property tax assessments and explore our legal options.
If you're a resident of north or south Clearwater Beach, Sand Key or Island Estates and are unhappy with your property tax assessment, you can either choose to hope the market will "take its course and work itself out" (in the words of real estate broker Jim Warner), or band together today and take immediate action to protest the unfair taxes through the CB-PTRF.
As your advocate in an organized protest, the CB-PTRF urges you to examine last year's tax bill and compare your assessment to today's current market value as determined by the most recent sales in your immediate area. You will find, in many cases, that the assessment now dramatically exceeds current market values.
The CB-PTRF is in the process of engaging legal counsel to lead a proactive effort for fair and realistic appraisals. Once we have finalized our choice for representation, a town meeting will be organized to plan our path forward.
Realizing many owners will be leaving town by the end of April, it is imperative that you act quickly so our effort is not stalled.
Our intent will be to do as much as possible to influence the new appraisals. We will not be in a financial position to appeal every individual case, but we will be able to recommend legal advice through our attorney.
Obviously, this grassroots effort is going to cost money for legal counsel, and to a lesser degree, administrative costs including mailings. We are asking residents to donate $50 to the CB-PTRF to fund our efforts. If you want to learn more about how you can support CB-PTRF, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send contributions to CB-PTRF, 868 Bayway Blvd., Unit #112, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767.
This is your opportunity to make a difference in your unfair property tax situation, hopefully saving you a considerable amount of money.
Bill Smith, founder, CB-PTRF, Clearwater
Cemetery project deserves funding
The Tarpon Springs city commissioners aren't the only ones irked by more and more requests for every penny City Manager Ellen Posivach can squeeze out of taxpayers.
On a recent Tuesday night, members of the Cycadia Cemetery Committee and I were busy at a fundraiser. We were successful in raising $600 toward the $2,000 needed to purchase surveillance equipment as a deterrent to cemetery vandalism. We have been trying for years, even begging the commission to consider budgeting $2,000 for this project.
Meanwhile, the committee had implemented ways and means to secure and place teardrop markers on unmarked graves. We agreed the markers should not be a financial burden on taxpayers. The surveillance cameras, however, are needed for policing the premises and should be the responsibility of the city.
We are irked that the commission can continuously honor requests from the city manager to convert comp time to vacation time at a cost of several thousand unbudgeted dollars.
Is the city manager trying to get fired so she can collect about a $50,000 severance payoff?
Maybe it's time for Ellen to move on — but not at taxpayers' expense.
F. Kettrell Powell, chairman, Cycadia Cemetery Committee, Tarpon Springs
Downtown needs better parking
To make downtown Clearwater work, you need people and parking. They won't come unless it's easy to park.
Build two multistory parking garages. One could go behind the old bank building on the northeast corner of Cleveland Street and North Fort Harrison Avenue. There is a parking lot there now. There is an alley behind the bank building that could be landscaped and made into an attractive entrance to the parking garage.
Put another multistory parking garage between the SteinMart and the Main Library on Osceola Avenue. West of it, put a first-class hotel with a well-known restaurant on the top floor overlooking the water. The hotel could use the Harborview Center to accommodate its clientele.
Keep SteinMart. It is the only thing you have to bring people downtown now. Besides, there is not another department store for 10 miles. If anything, I would let SteinMart expand into the Harborview Center space.
Take the pilings from the old bridge and make an attractive fishing pier, put in a beautiful fountain or two, walkways, benches and grass where asphalt is now. Fix the stage in Coachman Park, get rid of the wire fencing and clean it up.
Ed Sabala, Belleair