St. Pete Beach City Commission Update

The October 10 meeting of the St. Pete Beach City Commission resulted in the approval of two ordinances that have been in discussion recently, and the delay of a third.

Firefighters Retirement Passes

The Final Reading and Public Hearing amending the Firefighters Retirement System passed, but not without discussion. Commissioner Melinda Pletcher and Vice Mayor Ward Friszolowski requested more time to review a new document regarding the financial impacts of the measure, hoping to delay the vote until the next meeting.

“It’s worth it to take the time to read [the report] and make a good decision,” said Pletcher.

“I’m in favor of moving things forward but at the same time it has a big impact on what taxpayers pay now and into the future,” said Friszolowski.

City Manager Wayne Saunders noted that there was nothing that the board suggested that can be changed at this time. Mayor Alan Johnson recommended moving forward. Commissioner Terri Finnerty read the motion.

“I thought I had a reasonable request to wait two weeks,” said Friszolowski, who dissented. The motion was carried 4-1.

The ordinance changes the normal retirement eligibility to age 55 with 10 years of credited service; age 52 with 25 years of service; or 30 years of credited service regardless of age. The retirement benefit will increase from 1.25 percent to 3.4 percent of credited service retroactive to January 1, 2013. The city of St. Pete Beach funds 2.25 percent at 4.0 percent employee contribution; employees fund additional multiplier up to 3.4 percent. Currently, there is no COLA but the amendment provides a 3-percent increase of the previous year’s benefit commencing the first October 1, following seven years of receiving retirement income. The ordinance’s annual cost impact to the city will be $110,523. The net effect on the city’s budget is $27,000.

Stormwater Funds Approved

The Final Reading and Public Hearing of Ordinance 2017-25 providing supplemental appropriations to the Capital Improvement and Stormwater Funds was up next. According to Saunders, the measure “moves some dollars around to fund Phase II of the Pass-A-Grille Way project.”

“The dollars from the county for Phase I are coming in so this ordinance change will move funds around but with no additional funding dollars,” said Saunders.

Pinellas County is funding 100 percent of the potable water. The motion carried 5-0 to approve.

Food Trucks Coming Up for Vote

The last ordinance of the night concerned amending supplemental regulations of the St. Pete Beach development code allowing for regulation of mobile food establishments (food trucks).  Currently, food trucks that are on private or public properties have different permits. In a desire to make the regulations uniform, approval of Ordinance 2017-12 would change permitting laws so that food truck licenses for food truck owners on private and public property would be the same.

There has been much discussion, Planning Board workshops and changes to an initial ordinance since the subject was introduced for discussion in June 2017.

Commissioner Pletcher noted, “It seems we have complicated the process which created a lot of drama that was unnecessary.”

Matthew Dahm, owner of Mastry’s Brewing Company, which utilizes food trucks for patrons, thanked the commission for taking its time to ensure the ordinance is fair to all. The commission agreed to vote on the measure at the November 14 regular commission meeting.

Elections

The resolution providing for the 2018 municipal election, run-off election (if required) and qualification period was approved unanimously during the October 24, 2017 regular commission meeting. The seats open for the March 13, 2018 election are District 1, currently held by Commissioner Terri Finnerty, and District 3, which is currently filled by Vice Mayor Ward Friszolowski. Both incumbents said they plan to run.

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