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Commission stays status quo // SOUTH PASADENA

In a close race Tuesday night, voters returned two incumbents to the city commission and gave them raises. But voters said no to joining Pinellas County's library system.

Commissioners Al Edmiston, 67, and Ascanio Ippolito, 58, squeaked by the challenger to retain two at-large seats on the commission. Both will start their second three-year terms. Dick Holmes, 64, a first-time candidate, lost by 10 votes to Edmiston.

Voters also approved proposed changes to the City Charter, which will allow commissioners to give themselves raises for the first time in 11 years. Commissioners are paid $275 per month; the proposed salary is $350. The mayor's monthly salary is $375; the proposed increase would bring it to $500.

Four members of the commission would have to vote in favor of a pay increase. Typically, a 3-2 vote prevails. It also would require that a vote on an increase be taken only in November, when most residents are in town.

Other changes to the charter will prevent a mayor or commissioner from serving more than three consecutive, full or partial elected terms in either office or in a combination of offices. A loophole in the current rule allows a commissioner to quit before the end of a term and run again to avoid a term limit.

Nearly half of the voters said no to a referendum asking South Pasadena residents if they would like to join the Pinellas County library system, a move that would cost the city $100,000 a year and trigger an increase in property taxes of about $18 annually.