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Tarpon voters to answer 5 questions today

Residents can cast their vote on five questions today during a special referendum.

The first question would amend the city charter to allow exemptions to the residency requirement for department heads and charter officials. Currently, the charter mandates that officials move into the city within one year of being hired.

If this change to the charter is approved, one-year exemptions would be granted by the City Commission for hardship cases, such as a city official having trouble selling a home, having a sick relative or having children in school outside the city.

The second question seeks permission to spend up to $100,000 to buy a piece of property and build a minipark in the Trentwood Manor subdivision. Trentwood residents have been lobbying for a park in the built-out subdivision for a year.

Now, the city has to close off a street in the neighborhood to make room for children to play.

Developing affordable housing in the Union Academy neighborhood is one goal of a long-term improvement plan for that area. With the third referendum question, the city is asking whether it should donate or sell below fair-market value several city-owned lots in the Union Academy area so low- to moderate-income housing can be built on them. The lots would go to a non-profit housing agency such as Habitat for Humanity.

The last two questions on the referendum seek exemptions from the charter's five-year contract limit. The city wants to sign a 10-year contract with Variable Life Insurance Co. to administer the city employees' pension plan. Also, GTE Media Ventures is seeking a 10-year franchise agreement with the city to provide cable service.