Voters reject ballot box planning
ST. PETE BEACH — City voters reversed course and approved three changes to the city charter that eliminate Hometown Democracy-type requirements for voters to approve certain comprehensive plan amendments, redevelopment plans and building-height changes. Those requirements had been in place since 2006 when approved by voters after a citizens' initiative placed the measures on the ballot. The former charter provisions were blamed for stifling redevelopment of the Pinellas County coastal community, and they led to numerous lawsuits costly to taxpayers. Voters approved terminating the charter provisions by 52% to 54%. A fourth change to the charter, making it more difficult to place citizen initiatives on the ballot, narrowly passed with 50.3% support.
Caragiulo and Snyder elected
SARASOTA — Paul Caragiulo, a local restaurant owner, narrowly defeated incumbent City Commissioner Dick Clapp in his second try to win a seat on the Sarasota City Commission. Unofficial results show that Caragiulo won the District 2 seat by 11 votes in the March 8 election. The narrow margin necessitated a recount scheduled for March 10. In the District 3 race, former policeman and planning board member Shannon Snyder beat Diana Hamilton and Pete Theisen. A runoff for the District 1 seat between Willie Charles Shaw and Linda Holland is set for May 10.
Specified education sales tax bill
TALLAHASSEE — Revenue-neutral House and Senate bills to increase the state sales tax rate from 6% to 8.5% and lower the property tax for schools have been introduced. The identical bills call for replacing the $8 billion in property taxes for schools with the higher sales tax. According to the bill, tourists provide 25% of the state's sales tax revenue. Also referred to as the “Revenue-Neutral Tax Reform” measure, House Bill 995 is co-sponsored by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey, and Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach. Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, sponsored the companion bill, Senate Bill 1406. Bogdanoff is chairman of the budget subcommittee on finance and tax.
Redevelopment input extended
SARASOTA COUNTY — County government is keeping the wiki on redevelopment regulations open for public revisions and comments until 5 p.m. Friday, March 18. The interactive website is an online opportunity for participants to collaborate in drafting policies that will be submitted to the county commission for review. The extension gives visitors to the wiki more time to contribute ideas on policies and requirements that cover the redevelopment of older commercial projects. These include narrow strip commercial properties that were affected by road-widening projects or were developed before current regulations for off-street parking, landscape buffering and stormwater management. On the wiki, participants can add information and edit the redevelopment regulations. Users can also make comments and add links to related information. The wiki is available online at the Sarasota County website, www.scgov.net.