Governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
Tough typo in Dem's invitation
TAMPA — A fundraiser for Hillsborough County's Democratic Party this month celebrates state party Chairman Rod Smith, Alex Sink's running mate last year in the pair's failed effort to win the governor's race. Sink's on the host committee, along with her husband, who was listed on the event invitation as “Bill McBribe.” Ouch.
New city manager takes helm
NORTH PORT — The south Sarasota County city's new city manager comes from Palm Bay, a city of 100,000 residents on Florida's east coast, but also claims a Gulf Coast pedigree. Jonathan Lewis, 37, worked as assistant town manager for Belleair from 1999 to 2004 and interned in the Clearwater city manager's office from 1998 to 1999. Lewis also holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of South Florida. Lewis served as deputy city manager for Palm Bay since 2004 before accepting the North Port position. Lewis replaces Steve Crowell, who departed last October after city commissioners discovered Crowell had been seeking a position elsewhere.
Shaw elected to city commission
SARASOTA — Willie Shaw replaces long-time District 1 Commissioner Fredd “Glossie” Atkins with the fellow Newtown resident's win over Gillespie Park neighborhood activist Linda Holland in the May 11 runoff election. Shaw defeated Holland 733-499. The city now has three new commissioners. Shannon Snyder and Paul Caragiulo won their seats in the primary with more than 50% of the votes. At the May 13 organizational session commissioners elected Suzanne Atwell mayor and Terry Turner vice mayor.
Scott signs property insurance reform bill
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill that overhauls the state's property insurance laws, a measure that pitted its sponsor, Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, against Gulf Coast colleague Sen. Mike Fasasno, R-New Port Richey. Richter's Senate Bill 408 seeks to attract more private insurance capital to the state by lowering so-called cost drivers tied to sinkhole claims and other loopholes that have led to fraud, and ultimately, higher premiums. Fasano fought the measure arguing it could lead to higher rates for some property owners, but supporters, including Scott, believe it will result in more competition in the private market and reduce the 1.3 million policies currently held by the state's property insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
City ponders excess reserves
DUNEDIN — The northern Pinellas County municipality has a problem most Gulf Coast cities would like to have: too much money. The city of Dunedin built up $7.5 million in reserves, $3.9 million more than required by its policy to hold 15% of the city's operating budget in the reserve account. Options being considered so far include reducing the property tax rate next year and giving employees, who have not had a raise in three years, a bonus. However, the city would have to change its reserve policy that only allows reserves to be spent on paying off debt or capital purchases.
Republican fundraiser at Vinoy June 7
ST. PETERSBURG — Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, will host the “Inaugural St. Petersburg Cigar Dinner” June 7 at the Vinoy Resort & Golf Club on the St. Pete bayfront. The Republican Party of Florida fundraiser includes a 5:30 p.m. reception on the mezzanine terrace and a cigar dinner at 7:30 p.m. at Fred's Steakhouse.
In addition to Brandes, other legislators expected to attend include Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, and Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey — in line to become the next House speakers. Other Gulf Coast Republicans on the invitation list include Reps. Larry Ahern, Jim Boyd, Rachel Burgin, James Grant, Shawn Harrison, Ed Hooper, Seth McKeel, Peter Nehr, Rob Schenck, Jimmie Smith, Greg Steube and Dana Young.
Septic tank moratorium continued
TALLAHASSEE — Although an effort to repeal a law mandating periodic septic tank inspections failed in the Legislature, a moratorium prohibiting the Department of Health from implementing the 2010 law remains in effect.
The House passed House Bill 13 to remove the mandate, the Senate failed in its effort. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, managed to place a provision in the budget bill continuing the moratorium that prevents mandatory inspections from taking effect July 1.
Now, before the department may enforce the inspection requirement, it must get approval from the Legislative Budget Commission. Gaetz, who serves on the commission, says that effectively keeps the mandate from being enforced until the Senate passes its bill.
Lee County's local planning agency will hold a public hearing 8:30 a.m. May 23 to consider reducing development road impact fees as recommended by a consultant. The hearing will be held in the commission chambers at the Lee County Courthouse, 2120 Main St., Fort Myers. The consultant's study is available at www.leegov.com/dcd.