A look at governmental action from around the Gulf Coast
Ford and Foster in runoff
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayoral candidates Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford will face each other in a runoff for mayor Nov. 3. Foster was the leading vote-getter with 27% of the votes in the 10-candidate race. Ford received 25.7%. Deveron Gibbons was third with 19.5% and Scott Wagman came in fourth with 15%. No other candidate received 6% or more of the votes. Voter turnout was 23%.
LEE COUNTY — The community development department is laying off 11 workers and eliminating 11 other vacant positions as part of county budget cutting measures. Since January 2008, the department has laid off 80 employees. At its peak in 2007, the department had 296 employees. It has now lost 151 positions. The county expects to save $1.4 million annually from the cuts.
In August 2008, new commercial buildings were valued at $6.2 million for the unincorporated area, but this past August only four commercial buildings were permitted with a value of $1.9 million down from the previous month's $2.1 million.
Assessment challenges online
PINELLAS COUNTY — For the first time, county property owners who disagree with their property assessments can file petitions to go before the value adjustment board online at www.mypinellasclerk.org. Property owners have until Friday, Sept. 18, to file a petition challenging their property tax notice.
The clerk's office has added the online petitioning feature as well as enabling petitioners to submit their supporting documents online. Other methods of petitioning to go before the Value Adjustment Board are still available.
The forms can be accessed online, then mailed or filed in person at the county clerk's board records department on the fifth floor of the Clearwater Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater, or may be dropped off at one of these clerk's branch offices.
Property owners who disagree with their assessments can meet with the property appraiser's office to discuss their notices. If still dissatisfied, they may file a formal challenge with the Value Adjustment Board through the clerk's office.
The board serves as the decision-making authority between the property owners and the property appraiser when there is a disagreement over exemptions, valuations and classifications. Once a petition is filed, a quasi-judicial hearing is scheduled with a special magistrate.
$266 million gone
TALLAHASSEE — The $105 billion state pension fund lost the full value of a $266 million investment in 80 acres of prime Manhattan real estate, the St. Petersburg Times reports. The loss over two years includes a $250 million investment in the Peter Cooper Village apartments project plus more than $16 million in fees. The lack of sufficient market-rate units and the loss of a court case over the issue are cited as contributing factors to the investment loss.
The State Board of Administration consisting of Gov. Charlie Crist, state Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversee the fund managed by the pension agency's executive director, Ash Williams.
State budget gaps forecast
TALLAHASSEE — The state faces a projected $923 million budget gap next year that could grow to as much as $2.3 billion by 2011-2012 when federal stimulus dollars go away. The Legislative Budget Commission got the news at their Sept. 3 meeting from chief state economist Amy Baker. Baker also informed the commission that the median home price in the state has dropped from $250,000 to $147,000 and that unemployment can be expected to increase further.
The Murdock Village Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee's regular meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, in Room #106B at the Administration Center.
The Industrial Development Authority meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the SunTrust Bank Building, 18501 Murdock Circle, Suite 502. For more information contact Kathy Knee at (941) 627-3023.
The Charter Review Commission holds its organizational meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Administration Center, Room B-106, 18500 Murdock Circle, Port Charlotte. For more information contact Janette Knowlton at (941) 743-1330.
The Tourist Development Council holds a budget meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 18, in the Visitor's Bureau Conference Room, 18501 Murdock Circle, Suite 502, Port Charlotte. For more information contact Liz Parker at (941) 743-1900.
The Transportation Task Force meets at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14 and Sept. 21 at County Center, 26th floor, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. For more information contact Lucia Garsys at (813) 272-6214.
The Pinellas Planning Council meets at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Pinellas County Courthouse, 5th Floor Assembly Room, 315 Court St., Clearwater. For more information call (727) 464-8250.
The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council meets at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at 1926 Victoria Ave., Fort Myers.
The Lee County commission budget hearing is at 5:05 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at 2120 Main St., Fort Myers.
The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization meets at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at 1926 Victoria Ave., Fort Myers.
The Tourist Development Council meets to discuss grant presentations Wednesday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon at West Pasco Government Center, first floor board room, 7530 Little Road, New Port Richey.
The Land Development Code Stakeholder Committee meets from 4-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Land O'Lakes Community Center Room, 5401 Land O'Lakes Blvd. (US 41), Land O'Lakes.
The North Naples Task Force meets Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 11:30 a.m. at the North Collier Regional Park Conference Room A, 15000 Livingston Road, Naples.
The Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency/EZDA Boards and Master Plan Advisory Committee meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Career and Service Center, 750 South 5th St., Immokalee.
The Ybor City Development Corporation's retail development strategy committee meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the YCDC Office, 2015 E. 7th Ave., Tampa. For more information contact Kimberly Bogush at (813) 274-7936.