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Feather Sound nears vote on special taxing district

Published Oct. 16, 2005

Feather Sound residents may have an opportunity to vote as soon as May 22 on forming a special taxing district. The taxing district, supporters say, would accomplish two things: pay for street lights and parks, and fend off annexation by adjoining cities St. Petersburg and Largo.

Pinellas County's state legislative delegation Tuesday agreed to support the special taxing district, but the matter could be settled sooner. Theresa Lintz, a lobbyist for Pinellas County, said county commissioners will vote next week on setting a referendum. The taxing district can be formed either through the county commission or a state law that applies to Pinellas County.

The property tax rate for the taxing district authorized through the County Commission would be $1 per $1,000 assessed taxable value, or $75 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home with $25,000 homestead exemption. The ceiling for a state authorized district would be $2 per $1,000 taxable value. Either form requires approval of the voters.

The delegation also agreed to seek partial repayment for Pinellas County and the city of Clearwater for the 1987 purchase of Cooper's Point on Tampa Bay north of the Courtney Campbell Parkway.

After the purchase, the state Ethics Commission ruled that a former Clearwater environmental director, Michael W. Kenton, had improperly used his city position to help private investors buy the land. Kenton also joined the partnership, which sold the property to the public for $1.95-million. The Ethics Commission ordered Kenton to pay a $15,000 fine and to repay $199,985 he made on the transaction.

The bill endorsed by the delegation would allow two-thirds of the money to go to Pinellas County and one-third to Clearwater, based on their portions of the land purchase. An amendment added Tuesday would subtract the amount the state Ethics Commission paid to investigate Kenton.