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Issues take stage in Safety Harbor

In a city where personalities often outweigh the issues, Friday night's candidates forum turned into an old-fashioned town meeting, staying on track and addressing residents' concerns.

Rather than writing their questions down anonymously on index cards, residents addressed the seven City Commission candidates directly in the standing-room-only forum, sponsored by the North Bay Hills Homeowners Association.

The candidates are running for three available commission seats. Jill Cincotta and Don Fletcher are running for Seat 1. Vice Mayor Pamela Corbino, the only incumbent, and newcomer Paul Marron are vying for Seat 2. Fran Barnhisel, Sandy Huff and Bill Rupp are running for Seat 3.

The candidates answered several questions from residents, ranging from downtown redevelopment to rumors of firing City Manager Pamela Brangaccio. Two of the questions dealt with city services. Residents wanted to know if water and sanitation services should be privatized and what each candidate would do to save money in the sanitation department.

Most of the candidates said they are against privatizing water and sanitation services.

Fletcher, however, said the issue needs more research. Corbino said she would look at other ways to save money before considering privatizing.

While Marron said he is against privatizing, he said the city should consider reducing twice-weekly garbage pickups to weekly in the winter to save money. It was an idea the other candidates did not agree with.

Cincotta said the city could save upwards of $100,000 by renting its own yard waste grinder.

Apparently unaware that the city's contractor for the library, Pilot Construction, filed a lawsuit against the city Thursday, most of the candidates said they felt optimistic about the job being completed correctly.

The City Commission "is taking the right steps to get this matter resolved," Barnhisel said. "I'm not in a hurry to get it completed. We've been waiting a long time. We can wait a few more months."

Rupp said the library would be a constant maintenance problem because of its flawed design.

Addressing concerns about whether it will be a "sick building," Huff said the city should get a good dehumidifier to reduce the chance of contaminants getting into the building.