Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive



The property tax rate will remain flat although city taxpayers may pay more under a budget that went into effect Wednesday.

Pinellas Park council members unanimously agreed to a tax rate of about $5.59 per thousand dollars of assessed, taxable real property during their Sept. 25 council meeting. Although the rate held steady from the 2013-14 fiscal year, some taxpayers will pay more because of increased property values. The owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay about $559 in city taxes for the 2014-15 fiscal year that began Wednesday. Those taxes will go to help fund a general fund budget of about $51.4 million, which is about $864,340, or 1.7 percent, more than the $50.5 million spent last year.


... as sewer, water costs rise

Consumers will be paying more for water and sewer this year.

Pinellas Park council members unanimously approved a 2.2 percent hike in water rates and a 4 percent hike in sewer rates last month. The rate hikes, they said, are a "pass through" of price increases from Pinellas County, which supplies water and sewer service to Pinellas Park. For the coming year, the minimum water bill will be $20.91 per month and the minimum sewer bill will be $26.13 a month.

* * *


No rise in property tax rate here

The property tax rate for the fiscal year that began Wednesday remains the same as it was last year under a budget passed last month by Seminole council members. The property tax rate is about $2.48 per thousand dollars of assessed, taxable real property. For a home-owner with a house valued at $150,000 and a $50,000 homestead exemption, Seminole city taxes will be about $248. That could be a bit higher than last year because of increased property values. The property taxes collected will go to fund an operating budget of $14.7 million, which is about $789,889, or 5.1 percent less, than the $15.5 million budget for 2013-14.

* * *


Celebrate eating local Oct. 12-19

Localicius, a weeklong promotion of eating and drinking locally, will take place Oct. 12-19. Events include a mac-n-cheese/grilled cheese competition, a trolley tour of Grand Central District lined with pop-up dessert stops, a farmer's market at Green Bench Brewing Co., live music, garden tours and more. Localicoius is sponsored by Keep Saint Petersburg Local and Rollin' Oats. Visit

* * *


Chef opens bakery for lessons

A pastry chef who's taught at top culinary schools, baked for the likes of Ronald Reagan and Lucille Ball and spent a year working for Donald Trump at Mar-a-Largo in Palm Beach has just opened a shop at 1961 Fourth St. N.

St. Pete Bakery is in the former Cold Stone Creamery location that was most recently the Sweet Spot. Owner and chef Michael Ostrander, 62, has been selling his creations for eight years at the Saturday Morning Market at Michael's Extraordinary Desserts. He has also owned Sweet Caroline's bakery in Palm Harbor.

St. Pete Bakery will carry fresh-baked breads, cakes, tarts, pastries, a gluten free line, vegan products, chocolate from William Dean in Belleair Bluffs and ice cream made on Florida's west coast with 15 percent butter fat.

"Everything is made from scratch. All the chocolate I use is from Switzerland or Belgium. I use only butter," Ostrander said. "Come in and order anything. If I don't know how to make it I'll find out how."

He will also teach one-session Saturday baking classes as well as six-month courses.

* * *


New Publix has many specialists

Only in St. Petersburg will Publix customers soon be able to get help pairing the right cheese with the perfect Bordeaux and face cleanser.

The Publix opening Thursday at 3700 Fourth St. N will be the first in the company to have a "body care specialist." An expert will be on hand to offer advice on health and beauty products. The store will also include a wine specialist and cheese specialist. Publix already has wine and cheese specialists in other stores in the chain, spokeswoman Nicole Krauss said. The 49,000-square-foot store with drive-through pharmacy will have 250 employees. Most will be transferred from other stores but there are some new hires. The grand opening will take place at 8 a.m.

* * *


More delays for historic YMCA

The saga of the historic YMCA at 116 Fifth St. S drags on.

Local music promoter Tom Nestor has filed an appeal to a circuit judge's recent ruling that cleared the way for developer Nicholas Ekonomou to buy the 1926 building. Judge Jack Day ruled last month that Nestor didn't meet the terms of the settlement agreement because he wired a miscalculated payment from unrelated buyers at the eleventh hour.

"This appeal means it will be another 60 days before this is settled," said Ekonomou, a former Florida State University football player who wants to convert the Mediterranean facility into luxury vacation rentals with a spa, event venue and brewery. "Hundreds of gallons of water are pouring in through a gap in the roof every time it rains. If he really cared about saving this building like he's been saying all this time, he'd let me close on it and secure it."

Nestor could not be reached for comment.

Times staff writers Katherine Snow Smith and Anne Lindberg contributed to this report.