Headline News From The Islander
• June 3, 500 block of Seagull Way, burglary. Someone gained entry into a house through an unlocked door and stole two TVs valued at $2,500.
Anna Maria is policed by the MCSO.
• June 10, 1300 block of Gulf Drive North, battery. A 25-year-old Bradenton woman was arrested for misdemeanor battery. Police responded to a domestic violence call and made contact with a woman who said her daughter hit her twice in the face, causing her glasses to break. The victim was uncooperative with the investigation, according to the report.
• June 8, 500 block of Gulf Drive North, vehicle burglary. A complainant reported someone entered her unlocked vehicle and stole several items valued at $135.
• June 13, 2000 Gulf Drive S., Coquina Park, grand theft. A woman reported she walked away from her belongings lying on a blanket on the beach to view the sunset. Among her belongings was an iPhone valued at $800. When she returned, the phone was gone.
• June 10, 2601 Gulf Drive N., Sandpiper Resort, criminal mischief. Witnesses reported a man on a bicycle caused $300 in damages to the PVC fence that borders Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach. Witnesses said the man was upset the gate was locked and forced it open, but also pulled the gate in the wrong direction.
• June 9, 2400 block Avenue B, theft. A woman reported someone stole her $120 bicycle. According to the report, the bike was locked to another bike, but the suspect was able to free the stolen bike without cutting the lock.
Bradenton Beach is policed by the BBPD.
• No new reports.
Cortez is policed by the MCSO
• June 2, 100 White Ave., beach access, beverage law. Police responded to a report of a man drinking at the beach access. The responding officer observed what appeared to be an underage male drinking a beer. He watched the man throw the empty bottle into nearby sea oats. The officer made contact with the 18-year-old man and made him retrieve the empty beer bottle. He then asked the suspect if he had any more alcohol, at which time the man led the officer to a nearby cooler. After emptying the contents of the cooler, the man was issued a notice to appear for possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21.
• June 4, 500 block of 67th Street, vehicle burglary. A complainant reported someone gained entry into both of her vehicles sometime during the night. She reported an undetermined amount of loose change missing.
• June 5, 600 block of Ivanhoe Lane, criminal mischief. A woman reported someone knocked over a concrete planter causing damage to her mailbox. Upon investigating the area, the officer learned that a neighbor had also been vandalized. The officer contacted the second victim, who reported a landscape light valued at $436 had been damaged.
• June 7, 3600 block of Gulf Drive, aggravated battery. Police responded to a call of a man lying in the roadway. The officer made contact with the man, who was bleeding from his forehead and complaining of pain in his right ankle. A witness approached police and reported that he observed the man and he appeared to be intoxicated. A man driving by stopped and had words with the victim, according to the witness, who said the driver exited his vehicle, punched the victim in the face and fled the area.
Holmes Beach is policed by the HBPD.
Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
ITEMS FOR SALE
TWO SINGLE MATTRESSES with matching box springs, Like new, plastic covers, $100/set. 941-920-1789 or 941-447-7863.
PROFORM TREADMILL: $95. Executive desk chair on rollers, $65. HP printer, $45. All excellent. 779-9781.
FOR SALE: PATIO set includes 39-inch round table, six chairs, $50. 941-685-2847.
LA-Z-BOY RECLINER: Excellent condition, all-leather, hunter green, $100. 941-761-1415.
ROOM AIR CONDITIONER: Feel/see it run! $44. 941-778-3920.
ANTIQUES, ART, and collectibles. View at The Islander store, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
AERIAL PHOTOS of Anna Maria Island. View and purchase online: www.jackelka.com
FREEBIE ITEMS FOR SALE
Individuals may place one free ad with up to three items, each priced $100 or less, 15 words or less. FREE, one week, must be submitted online. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, fax toll-free 1-866-362-9821. (limited time offer)
THE HIVE: GIFTS and arts. Locally handmade and imported silver jewelry, Buddha art, artifacts, artistic T-shirts, cards, hot sauces, South African handmade arts, specialty candies, more. 119 B Bridge St., Bradenton Beach. http://thehivegiftsandarts.com/
WANTED: WORKOUT DVDs and retired but working XBox, Wii units with games for Ministry of Presence summer camp in Haiti. Deliver to The Islander, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
TERRY HAYES, REALTOR. Premier Sothebys. 941-302-3100. Terry.email@example.com. Discoverannamaria.com.
WANTED: YOUR OLD cell phone for recycling. Deliver to The Islander, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
FISHING GEAR WANTED: The Privateers and The Islander are collecting new or used, repairable fishing poles and reels, nets, tackle, buckets, etc. to give to children. Donate your gear at The Islander newspaper office, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
FREE GUN LOCK courtesy of Project Childsafe, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Holmes Beach Police Department. Pick up at The Islander office, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Don’t be sorry, be safe.
ROSER THRIFT SHOP: Open 9:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Donations, 9-11 a.m. Wednesdays. 511 Pine Ave., Anna Maria. 941-779-2733.
STEFF’S STUFF ANTIQUES: The Centre Shops on Longboat Key. 5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive. 941-383-1901.
ESTATE/GARAGE SALE: 10 a.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 21, 22, 23. Vintage furniture, 4-drawer filing cabinet, doors, cabinet, chairs, dog beds, kitchen table, books, more. 909 37th St. W., Bradenton. 931-227-7180.
MOVING SALE: 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, 637 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach.
LOST & FOUND
MAROON CAMERA in case. Sentimental pictures. Lost on Anna Maria Island. Please, call 570-406-5891.
LOST: WEDDING RING. Platinum setting with three emerald-cut diamonds. Reward offered. Please return, means so much. 703-608-6871.
PARENTS NEEDED for loving homes to foster puppies and kittens until they are old enough for adoption. All food and medical provided. Julie, 941-720-1411.
WELL-MANNERED RESCUED dogs (and kittens!) are looking for great new homes or fosters. Please, call for information, 941-896-6701.
BOATS & BOATING
BIMINI BAY SAILING: Small sailboat rentals and instruction. Day. Week. Month. Sunfish, Laser, Windrider 17 and Precision 15. Call Brian at 941-685-1400.
POWER NOLES CUSTOM 11.5-foot fiberglass tunnel hull with bass seats. Very stable! Great for fishing-stand on the side without tipping, go in really shallow waters. Very fun boat for anyone who wants to get on the water!? 2001 25-hp Mercury 2-stroke, plus a trolling motor with battery. Must see! $2,150 obo. Call Toni, 941-928-8735.
PONTOON BOAT RENTAL Create life-long memories, call 941-518-3868 or see boatflorida.weebly.com.
AMI BEACH RESORT needs part-time property manager for daytime shift, weekends included. Computer and people skills required. Please email resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOUSEKEEPER PART-TIME for Longboat Key resort. Schedule to include Saturdays. Must be reliable with a positive attitude and good people skills. Experienced preferred. Call 941-383-5511.
KIDS FOR HIRE
LOCAL ISLAND STUDENT babysitter available. CPR and first aid-certified, early childhood development major. Emily, 941-567-9276.
RED CROSS-CERTIFIED babysitter and dog sitter. Reasonable rates for both. Call 941-527-5051.
NICOLE AND HALLIE’S babysitting, pet sitting and pet walking. Red Cross certified, good with animals. Hallie, 941-773-6317, Nicole, 941-370-7981.
KIDS FOR HIRE ads are FREE for up to three weeks for Island youths under 16 looking for work. Ads must be placed in person at The Islander office, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
CAREGIVER FOR ELDERLY: Light duties around home, appointments, hygiene care, experience in all phases. References, 30 years experience. Call between 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. 941-545-7114.
CARE AT HOME: Confidential and professional. Home aid, companionship, basic nursing. Call Alexandra Keller, 941-524-9900.
TOASTED COMPUTER SERVICES. Your home and business specialist. On-site service, virus/spyware, cleanup, system setup, upgrades, diagnosis and repair, internet/wireless networking, custom system design. 941-224-1069.
I DON’T CUT corners, I clean corners. Professional, friendly cleaning service since 1999. 941-779-6638. Leave message.
ISLANDER HANDYMAN SERVICE: 23-year Island resident, references. The Flying Dutchman LLC. We do all repair, interior and exterior, carpentry and more. Peter, 941-447-6747.
CLEANING BY LAURA offers everything on your list from kitchen and bath cleaning to dusting and emptying wastebaskets. 941-539-6891.
U FLY I drive your car anywhere in the USA. Airport runs, anywhere. 941-746-5651, 941-545-6688.
ALL AROUND PAINTING: Quality work. Free estimates. Licensed, insured. Call native islander Jim Weaver, 813-727-1959.
ISLAND COMPUTER GUY, 37 years experience. On-site PC repairs, upgrades, buying assistance and training. Call Bill, 941-778-2535.
TRANSPORT SERVICE: LET me drive you to the airport or anywhere in Florida. Flat rates. Reasonable. Call Mike, 941-567-6634.
PRESSURE WASHING: RESIDENTIAL, commercial, resorts, roof, lanai, etc. Also windows, lawn services, also. 941-565-3935.
CLEANING RESIDENTAL, COMMERCIAL and resort. Love what we do, love to work. 941-756-4570.
PROFESSIONAL CLEANER FOR hire: Reliable, trustworthy and honest with reasonable non-hourly rate. 813-295-5000 please, leave message.
COMPUTER SERVICES: I can fix it. Virus cleanup, system upgrade. Hardware, software and network repair. FBI virus cleaned and removed. Cell phone repair, support. Replace broken camera, screen, etc. Give islander Socko a call: 941-799-1169.
BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS JD’s Window Cleaning looking for storefront jobs in Holmes Beach. I make dirty windows sparkling clean. 941-920-3840.
ISLAND MERMAIDS CLEANING and Co.: 38-year Islanders. Rentals our specialty. 941-778-3046.
BEACH SERVICE air conditioning, heat, refrigeration. Commercial and residential service, repair and/or replacement. Serving Manatee County and the Island since 1987. For dependable, honest and personalized service, call William Eller, 941-795-7411. CAC184228.
ANYONE CAN TAKE a picture. A professional creates a portrait. I want to be at your wedding! www.jackelka.com. 941-778-2711.
RELAXING MASSAGE IN the convenience of your home or hotel. Massage by Nadia, more than 19 years on Anna Maria Island. Call today for an appointment, 941-518-8301. MA#0017550.MA#0017550.
AMI COMPUTERS Virus removal, repairs, tutorials, data salvage. On site, at home or office. www.amicomputer.com or 941-962-6560.
LAWN & GARDEN
CONNIE’S LANDSCAPING INC. Residential and commercial. Full-service lawn maintenance, landscaping, cleanups, hauling and more! Insured. 941-778-5294.
ISLAND LAWN SPRINKLERS repairs and installations, watering the island for 15 years. Jeff, 941-778-2581.
JR’S LANDSCAPING AND MAINTENANCE Lawns, native plants, mulching, trimming, hauling, cleanups. Island resident 25 years. Call 941-807-1015.
LAWNCARE FOR HOLMES Beach. Recently retired caretaker, experienced with references. Contact email@example.com or call 570-650-1160.
STRAIGHT SHOT LANDSCAPE. Specializing in old Florida seashell driveways and scapes. Free estimates. Call Shark Mark, 941-301-6067.
SHELL DELIVERED AND spread. $50/yard. Hauling all kinds of gravel, mulch, top soil with free estimates. Call Larry at 941-795-7775, “shell phone” 941-720-0770.
TOP NOTCH LAWN Care: Residential and commercial. For all your landscaping needs. 941-932-6600.
NATURE’S DESIGN LANDSCAPING. Design and installation. Tropical landscape specialist. Residential and commercial. 30 years experience. 941-729-9381, 941-448-6336.
VAN-GO PAINTING residential/commercial, interior/exterior, pressure cleaning, wallpaper. Island references. Bill, 941-795-5100. www.vangopainting.net.
TILE -TILE -TILE. All variations of ceramic tile supplied and installed. Quality workmanship, prompt, reliable, many Island references. Call Neil, 941-726-3077.
CUSTOM REMODELING EXPERT. All phases of carpentry, repairs and painting. Insured. Meticulous, clean, sober and prompt. Paul Beauregard, 941-730-7479.
GRIFFIN’S HOME IMPROVEMENTS Inc. Handyman, fine woodwork, countertops, cabinets and wood flooring. Insured and licensed, 941-748-4711.
JERRY’S HOME REPAIR: Carpentry, handyman, light hauling, pressure washing. Jack of all trades. Call 941-778-6170 or 941-447-2198.
SOUTHBAY HOME REPAIRS: If it’s broken, stuck, loose, leaks, needs paint, etc. I’ll fix it. Affordable quality work. 941-720-2906.
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN LLC: Professional tile roof restoration. Call Peter for free estimate. 23-year Island resident, references, insured. 941-447-6747.
METRO DOOR & SUPPLY, INC.: Home, condo, office. Primary doors and glass inserts, custom prep/cut downs, sliding doors, windows, doors for commercial properties, fiberglass, aluminum, steel, vinyl. Installation available. Free estimates. 941-726-2280 or 941-722-7507.
SOUTHWEST HOME IMPROVEMENT: Michigan builder, quality work guaranteed. Affordable, timely, within budget. Call Mike, 1-616-204-8822.
WEEKLY/MONTHLY/ANNUAL rentals: wide variety, changes daily. SunCoast Real Estate, 941-779-0202, or 1-800-732-6434. www.suncoastinc.com.
ADORABLE GULFFRONT COTTAGE: 100 feet from Gulf. 2BR/1 large bath. Seasonal rental, three-day minimum. Call for further information, 863-660-3509 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2BR WATERFRONT TOWNHOUSE with boat slip. Palma Sola Bay. Pool, patio, cable, washer and dryer. $900 mo. Call 941-538-8622.
2BR/2BA HOLMES BEACH waterfront condo: Fully furnished with views, pools, Jacuzzi, tennis, boat dock. Seasonal, November. Call 818-620-0901.
SEASONAL OR ANNUAL Sarasota bayfront. 2BR/2BA, pool. $2,000 month. Gulf view, 3BR/2BA, $2,000 month. For information, 703-587-4675, email@example.com.
WATERFRONT 3BR/2BA HOME with garage on canal, boat dock and boatlift. Just two miles from AMI in Coral Shores. Available annually or seasonally. Mike, 443-309-4068. firstname.lastname@example.org.
VACATION RENTAL 2BR/2BA furnished townhouse, $550 weekly. Boat dock and pool. Realtor, 941-356-1456.
NORTHWEST BRADENTON 3BR/2BA furnished, $1,200 mo., one to six months. Vacant now. Realtor, 941-356-1456.
TOWNHOUSE ANNUAL RENTAL $950mo. Boat dock, pool, no pets. Realtor, 941-356-1456.
ANNUAL RENTAL: 900 sf, elevated half duplex, turnkey furnished with utilities. 1BR/1BA. Great location for beach life. (1.3 miles to Anna Maria Island) Will consider shorter term. $1,095/month. 941-761-2725.
SEASONAL OR WEEKLY cottage-style rentals. 1BR/1BA or 1BR/1BA with loft with pool. Walk to beach, shops or dining! 941-778-3426. Web site: www.spinnakerscottages.com.
PLEASE CALL ME if you are interested in selling. I am looking to purchase a home close to the beach or on the beach. 941-779-6158. No Realtors.
WE’RE LOW, LISTINGS needed. Are you curious as to how much your home could be worth? Call us for a free professional consultation. Call Lynn at Edgewater Real Estate, 941-778-8104.
DIRECT GULFFRONT CONDO: Bradenton Beach 2BR/1BA Beautifully updated, fabulous views. $395,000, by owner. 941-779-0101.
BEACH HOUSE: HOLMES Beach. Block home, 2BR/2BA, one-car garage with wood-burning fireplace. Zoned for weekly rentals. $465,000. Smith & Associates Real Estate, contact Realtor Bonnie Martinez, 727-512-6355, to schedule your appointment.
VILLAGE GREEN HOME 4BR/2BA, double garage, caged pool. Upgrades: windows, roof, kitchen and more. Ten minutes to beach. Move-in ready. No flood zone. Realtor/Owner, 941-356-1456.
BEST PRICE PER foot: Key Royale 3BR/3BA canal, seawall, pool. Call Sharon Hightower, Edgewater Real Estate, 941-330-5054.
PERICO BAY CLUB: Great water views, great price, 2BR/2BA, $169,900. Call Sharon Hightower, Edgewater Real Estate, 941-330-5054.
Efforts to have a cell tower built in Anna Maria took a step forward June 12, when the city cell tower review committee met with representatives of three companies bidding on the project.
The committee was formed several months ago after Commissioner Gene Aubry called for revising the cell tower ordinance, saying it was too restrictive and no company had applied in the 11 years since the ordinance was established.
Aubry also suggested good cellphone service is a safety issue, as many cellphone users no longer have land lines and find it difficult to get a signal, particularly in the northern part of the city.
Consultant Rusty Monroe was retained to assist the city in revising the ordinance and the result was an amended ordinance, a request for proposals and the three bids.
The committee, chaired by building official Bob Welch with members Tom Aposporos, Jon Crane and former Mayor Mike Selby, reviewed the presentations from Vertex Development, Florida Towers Partners LLC and F&L Towers LLC.
The committee members asked questions pertaining to the length of the lease, revenue for the city as new carriers are added and what could be negotiated in the proposals.
Committee members will grade applicants in a number of areas, then submit their grades to Welch at a 3:30 p.m. meeting June 19. The committee will make a priority list and submit that to the city commission and city attorney Jim Dye.
The commission will make the final decision on any cell tower contract.
Each company presented an initial offering at the June 10 meeting, but also said they are open to negotiation.
Vertex offered a lump-sum payment to the city of $300,000 on an initial five-year lease with an option to extend the lease to 25 years. Vertex said it planned for a maximum of six carriers on its tower, and the lease could be renegotiated if four or more carriers added equipment to the tower. The renegotiated lease could give the city additional revenue as more carriers are added.
F&L Towers LLC, headed by Anna Maria property owner and attorney Stacey Frank, offered the city a lump sum of $400,000 on an initial 10-year lease, then subject to a 50-year extension. Frank said she was open to negotiating the lease and revenue stream as more carriers were added to the tower.
She said a fourth or fifth carrier would trigger renegotiations to give the city additional revenue. She also said any portion of her proposal could be negotiated with the city.
Florida Towers Partners offered a lump sum of $400,000, or a lump sum of $350,000 plus revenue sharing.
Each company proposed the design of the tower as a functioning flagpole to accommodate flying the U.S. flag on top.
The first carrier’s equipment would start at 90 feet on the flagpole and another carrier’s equipment placed every 10 feet to a maximum of six carriers on a 150-foot flagpole.
Carrier technology no longer requires hanging antenna such as the equipment at the Holmes Beach tower, but rather is wrapped around the flagpole and blends with the structure.
Each proposal requires an structure at the bottom of the pole for mechanical equipment to operate the tower. F&L Towers and Florida Towers proposed a 30-by-90-foot area 6 feet tall and a protective wall or fence enclosure.
The mechanical area would have a generator that would operate the tower in the event normal electrical service to the city is disrupted.
Kevin Burile of Florida Towers Partners said the revenue stream from the carriers could be sold by the cell tower owner to a third party under certain conditions.
Before a carrier will apply to have its equipment on a tower, the tower must be operating effectively, Burile said.
He said his company has worked with Bradenton Beach for construction of a cell tower.
Frank said her company has worked with Pasco and Hillsborough county school systems to build cell towers.
But the industry is changing with some carriers merging with others, she said.
Frank said a merger between two large cellphone carriers might reduce the number of carriers on the tower. She also said the DAS system, which uses small transmitter boxes to send signals, might become more popular.
Presently, DAS is a line-of-sight system that might not work well in Anna Maria because of its many trees and tree-lined streets, a study of DAS several years ago suggested.
Burile agreed the industry is changing rapidly. “It’s hard to predict the future, or where we might be in 10-20 years,” he said.
Committee members will meet again at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, and present their grades and ratings. Welch said he hopes to present the committee’s findings to the city commission for consideration June 27.
Anna Maria has a new city commissioner.
With the withdrawal of Carol Carter’s application for the Anna Maria City Commission to complete the remaining five months of John Quam’s term, only one applicant remained — Doug Copeland.
Commissioners at their June 13 meeting swiftly and unanimously elected Copeland, a former planning and zoning board chair, to fill the vacancy. Copeland also was elected vice chair of the commission, while vice chair Chuck Webb was elected to serve as chair for the next five months.
Carter distributed a letter before the meeting stating she was withdrawing because she believes Copeland — with more than 20 years of experience on P&Z — has the knowledge and expertise to be commissioner.
Carter also said she would run for a commission seat in November, when three commission seats will come up for election.
Copeland is a wood worker by trade, and also has worked in various restaurants and bars.
He was immediately drawn into the business of the commission as Webb introduced several amendments to the city’s construction ordinance. Webb said a change is needed to preempt a property owner from claiming the new ordinance reduced the value of a home if built under the old rule. The amendments would avoid any conflict with the 1994 Bert Harris Jr. Property Act, Webb said.
One suggestion by Webb was to place a variance procedure in the new ordinance for someone who wants to build according to the old guidelines that allow for the second floor of living space to have the same living area as the first floor.
The new city building ordinance allows the second livable floor to have only 33 percent of the first livable floor’s area.
But Webb quickly noted that the Bert Harris Jr. Act has not been interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court. He said he’s studied all the available cases and spoken with a number of attorneys familiar with the act and none have the same opinion on what the act does or doesn’t allow.
“It’s very confusing,” Webb said.
City attorney Jim Dye agreed the law is confusing. He suggested a meeting with Webb to draw up amendments that would keep the city out of court in the event someone claims a loss under the Harris act.
Commissioner Dale Woodland said if someone came to the commission and claimed this was a “taking of value,” the commission should just let them build under the old rules.
But Webb said that’s exactly what he’s trying to prevent.
Commissioner Gene Aubry said he and the other non-attorney commissioners need something plainly written so they can understand.
“I don’t want to play lawyer in this. I don’t want to go down that road,” he said. Other commissioners agreed they need something that’s easy to understand before making a decision.
Webb and Dye will return to the commission with suggestions that are easy to understand, but Webb cautioned that the law is not simple, even for experienced attorneys.
In other commission business, the final reading of the historic preservation ordinance was continued to 6 p.m. Thursday, July 17, as Dye and city planner Alan Garrett said a few more refinements are needed.
Commissioners also welcomed Anna Maria Island Community Center executive director Dawn Stiles, who assumed her duties April 1.
Stiles said she is making an effort to meet the elected officials of the three island cities. She invited commissioners to visit the center, and also to provide suggestions for the planning analysis report she will soon prepare in conjunction with a center committee.
“I’d like to invite all of you to come and see what we do. And, please, give us your input. I hope to see all of you at the center,” Stiles said.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Paul Davis, head of the MCSO-Anna Maria substation, presented a video on what deputies in the city do and how citizens can help reduce crime. Davis acknowledge less crime in Anna Maria than the mainland, but said sometimes people hear or see something unusual, but don’t call in a report.
As a results, some burglaries and thefts go unsolved.
He asked the public to call 941-708-8899 or 911 to report any suspicious activity or a burglar alarm going off for no apparent reason.
Aubry and Mayor SueLynn will work together on a Pine Avenue streetscape beautification plan that was proposed in May by Aubry. The proposed beautification will be staged, and a first phase should be ready in a few weeks, he said.
Building official Bob Welch also asked the public for input on changing the sign ordinance. He recently sent a letter to owners of illegal signs requiring they come into compliance by July 31 or face a citation.
What he’d prefer in the next few weeks are suggestions to amend the sign ordinance. He said if real estate agents would use the old-fashioned signs that stick in the ground, and stop infringing on the rights of way, that would solve many sign issues.
SueLynn scheduled the first work session for the 2013-14 budget for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 10.
Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler walks down the proverbial aisle June 16 with groom Billy Crider. The couple were married in a small ceremony near Palma Sola Bay. Islander Photos: Mark Young
Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler and her husband Billy Crider couldn’t stop smiling at their June 16 wedding near Palma Sola Bay. The couple were married during a small ceremony with family and friends in attendance.
For the 24th time in the past 25 months, resort tax collections by the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office have set a new monthly record compared with the same month the previous year.
Collections this year are on pace to eclipse last year’s record collection amount of $8.1 million.
The resort tax, also called the bed tax, is the 5 percent Manatee County charges on accommodation rentals of six months or less.
As resort tax collections continue setting records, the collections have corresponded to increasing tourism. The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau reported tourism to the area up 6.5 percent for the first four months of 2013 compared with the same months in 2012. By comparison, resort tax collections for the first five months of 2013 are up 9.7 percent compared with that same period in 2012.
Collections for April 2013 totaled $771,368, according to information available online at the Manatee County Tax Collectors website.
That was a modest 1.4 percent increase from collections in April 2012, but still pushed the total collected for the first seven months of the 2012-13 fiscal year to $5.812 million, well ahead of the $5,296 million collected during the first seven months of fiscal year 2011-12.
Total resort tax collections for 2011-12 were $8.1 million, a record-setting year and more than $1 million ahead of the previous record of $7.01 million set in fiscal year 2010-11.
If the next five months maintain the same amounts collected as last year, the resort tax will hit $8.63 million by the end of the fiscal year, yet another record, and 6.5 percent ahead of 2011-12 collections, the previous record-setting year.
Sue Sinquefield, who heads the resort tax unit, said the rapid increase in collections the past two years has begun to slow as more vacation rental owners have come into compliance with state and county law.
Several years ago, her office began organizing agent sweeps to known areas of vacation rental properties, looking for vacation rental owners who were not paying the resort tax and not even registered with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
She also noted that her unit has begun looking more at leases to ensure they comply with state and local laws. Anyone unsure about a lease can bring it to the resort tax office for review.
Although Sinquefield did not identify specific neighborhoods in the county that the agents target, she said agents go where the most vacation rentals are. There is also a “tax cheat hotline” that people can use in anonymity to report resort tax evaders.
The resort tax is used to fund a variety of county programs, most notably the county’s share of beach renourishment.
Resort tax revenues also are used for the BACVB budget, to support the Bradenton Convention Center, the Crosley Mansion and other public venues in the county.
Barrier islands lead dollars
Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key continue to contribute the majority of resort taxes collected in Manatee County, according to the April 2013 collection figures.
The barrier islands collected $442,616 in resort taxes during April 2013, 57.2 percent of the total taken in by the department.
The barrier islands average contributing about 62 percent of the total resort tax collected each year, according to online figures from the resort tax office.
When a group of residents on Eighth Street South in Bradenton Beach volunteered to pay for a new city dock at the end of their street more than a year ago, it appeared a viable solution to a shortfall in the city budget.
The city condemned the dock more than two years ago with a promise to rebuild it, but an economic downturn and a tightening budget left the dock as a low priority.
Residents stepped forward to pool their money to have the dock rebuilt, leaving city staff with the task of beginning the permitting process, which appeared on the surface to be a relatively simple process for a relatively simple project.
But “relatively simple” are words that don’t exist when doing a project on a barrier island, according to building official Steve Gilbert.
Once the funding was in place, Gilbert began the permitting process with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
DEP approved the rebuild, but a change in the state agency’s policies to no longer review federal permits for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers added an additional layer of permitting for the city.
Once DEP informed the city that it would be required to submit additional paperwork to the corps, Gilbert did so the same day, but the delay was only the beginning.
The Tampa regulatory office first informed Gilbert in January that it was suffering a staff shortage and that a permit review for the Eighth Street dock was a low priority.
By mid-February, the Tampa office informed Gilbert it had resolved its staffing issues, but said the “relatively simple” project of removing old pilings and replacing them with new ones would have to undergo a full regulatory review.
Gilbert told the corps he didn’t understand the reasoning for the project to undergo a full regulatory review, but submitted the necessary paperwork given the project’s “simplicity.”
Given the city’s concerns, Gilbert was informed that the dock’s permitting process would be “accelerated” and the project was advanced to a high-priority category.
To ensure its “accelerated” status, Gilbert invited the corps to meet with city staff to conduct a site inspection in early March and that meeting took place as scheduled.
In late March, Gilbert contacted the corps for an update of the dock’s status and was told, “Good question.”
It was explained that the corps was in the process of prioritizing private projects and that government projects would begin soon.
In mid-April, the city again contacted the corps for an update. In a series of email correspondence between Gilbert and the Tampa office, the corps explained the permitting process for government projects had not yet begun.
The corps said, however, the Eighth Street dock was still a high priority.
It took about another 45 days for the corps to notify the city that a permit review was underway and, a few days later, the much-anticipated permit had been issued.
Duncan Seawall’s work to the dock was expected to be completed by Islander press time. The dock stretches 60 feet into Sarasota Bay with a walkway 5 feet wide leading to a 400-square-foot fishing platform.
Gilbert said it had been a long time coming and he was pleased the dock is completed.
“It was one of several projects that have been on backlog, but not by the city’s doing,” said Gilbert.
The floating dock adjacent to the Historic Bridge Street Pier took more than a year of red tape from the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012. It was completed in early June.
However, between the residents of Eighth Street South and FEMA, two major projects are now completed at no cost to city taxpayers.
The dingy dock next to the Bridge Tender Dockside Bar and Inn, also destroyed by TS Debby, was another FEMA-funded project that was completed earlier this year.
One of the last major projects on the city’s backlog list is the renovation of the pier. That project is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, although only beginning the permitting process.
Gilbert said he expects no delays given the simplicity of the project that will replace 151 pilings and the wood deck. However, “simple” didn’t work out to the benefit of the Eighth Street dock and Gilbert is making no promises when it comes to a timetable for permits.
ZNS Engineering, the firm of record for the pier project, is handling the permitting process.
A scope of work on the pier is expected at a city commission meeting in the near future. The cost of the pier project has not yet been discussed pending a final submission of the scope of work.
At that time, commissioners are expected to authorize a request for proposal and begin taking bids for the pier reconstruction work.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reviewed the status of snook populations in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic waters at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland before deciding to allow the recreational harvest of Gulf of Mexico snook to reopen this September.
The harvest of snook in state and federal Gulf waters has been closed since early 2010, when a prolonged cold snap negatively impacted the population, particularly juvenile snook.
The Atlantic recreational harvest of snook will also open Sept. 1.
In 2012, the FWC extended the temporary closure through August 2013, in an effort to further protect the species and give it time to more fully recover.
The FWC Research Institute confirms that once reopened, the stock should continue to rebuild, thanks to management efforts, including regular closed seasons and the slot limit, which protects both juveniles and the more productive larger fish.
When the Gulf recreational harvest reopens Sept. 1, all bag limits, size limits, gear restrictions and closed seasons will be in effect. This includes the one-fish-per-person, per-day bag limit, the 28- to 33-inch total length slot limit and the two annual closures in Gulf waters, Dec. 1-end of February, and May 1-Aug. 31.
The next stock assessment for snook is scheduled for 2015.
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com.
The first step in determining if litigation can be avoided between Holmes Beach and the Mainsail Lodge developers will be taken at 9 a.m. Friday, June 21, at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.
City attorney Patricia Petruff said the initial proceeding is basically “the start of a negotiation or, at least, for the special magistrate to get a better understanding of what the issues are, if there is common ground and whether it can be mediated.”
Petruff reminded commissioners at a June 13 work session that commissioners could attend the public meeting, “but it’s not your public meeting, so do not sit near one another or have any discussions with one another.”
To do so, would violate Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.
Mayor Carmel Monti and Commissioner Judy Titsworth were appointed by the commission in May to be the city’s representatives in the negotiations along with Petruff.
Commissioner David Zaccagnino recommended Monti and Titsworth because the two represent opposite sides of the vote that revoked the Mainsail site plan in March.
Petruff said the special magistrate will determine during the opening round of negotiations if mediation is possible, but if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement, July 24-25 have been scheduled to begin the possible quasi-judicial hearing, where both sides will present their case.
Sarasota attorney Robert Lincoln, representing Mainsail, filed a petition for relief with the city April 18 to initiate a process under the Bert J. Harris Jr. Act, which allows a property owner to seek relief from a government entity that is placing a burden on the property’s existing use.
“The second phase is more of a hearing where evidence is taken and the special magistrate listens to public testimony,” said Petruff. “At the end of that step, he will provide a written recommendation. If both sides agree to the recommendation, it ends. If not, then the next step is likely litigation.”
Mainsail is seeking to revoke the commission’s 3-2 vote that rescinded the site plan and accuses the city of violating procedures. Lincoln alleges the commission had no authority to revoke the site plan, saying the decision belonged to the mayor and building official.
Special Magistrate Steven Seibert will preside over the meetings.
Monti supported the continued efforts of the Mainsail development team to proceed with their revised site plan along with Zaccagnino and Commission Chair Jean Peelen, but under the Holmes Beach city charter, Monti does not have a vote.
Titsworth and Commissioners Pat Morton and Marvin Grossman opposed the site plan, saying it violated the land development code in setback requirements and Grossman, in particular, addressed several concerns outlined in the new site plan.
Commissioners have unanimously stated they want the property developed, and those in opposition invited Mainsail to start from scratch with a new plan that would comply with current city codes. But, Mainsail sited a substantial financial investment in the work that had been completed at the city’s behest.
The site plan includes lodging, a restaurant and other amenities in what is considered the city’s business district at Gulf and Marina drives.
The June 21 hearing is a public meeting. However, invitations were sent only to those who spoke at previous public hearings to provide testimony and only at the request of Seibert will that testimony be taken.
No other public comment will be allowed.
Rather than fight Holmes Beach City Hall, Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran, owners of the now viral tree house at 103 29th St. N., have decided that rather than fight city hall, they will legislate to keep the structure.
They began circulating a petition authorized by Holmes Beach commissioners June 11 among registered voters calling for a vote on a special ordinance to allow them to keep their tree house.
The tree house was built in 2011 and approved verbally at that time by building official Bob Shaffer, who is on record as having given that permission. However, it has not been clarified as to whether or not Shaffer understood the extent of construction that occurred and the resulting tree house.
If the couple gets 10 percent of the city’s registered voters — 332 — to sign the petition, it goes before the city commission, which then must set up a special election on the ordinance.
The commission, at its June 11 meeting, approved the petition with Commissioner Marvin Grossman moving for the approval. Commissioner David Zaccagnino seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.
However, Zaccagnino wanted clarification on the process. Anna Maria attorney Jim Dye, sitting in for Holmes Beach attorney Patty Petruff — both principals in Dye, Dietrich, Petruff & St. Paul, P.L. — said it’s a multi-step process.
“The petition committee has to get the required signatures, then the commission has first opportunity to pass the ordinance allowing the tree house,” Dye said. “If it doesn’t pass, then it goes to a referendum and voters decide.”
Zaccagnino expressed concern over the cost of a special election and asked if the matter could be placed on the regular election ballot in November.
Dye said the city’s charter requires a referendum within 90 days if the commission votes down the ordinance.
“If that time frame falls within the regular election, then yes, it can be put on the general ballot,” he said. “But that’s only if the supervisor of elections has the time to get it done and if there is room on the ballot. If not, then it comes back to a referendum.”
Tran thanked the commissioners for approving the petition, but also wanted a response to their attorney’s request to suspend “or at least postpone a June 20 code enforcement hearing” on the tree house violations outlined in an April letter by building official Tom O’Brien.
Commission Chair Jean Peelen said she would try to get Tran an answer as soon as possible.
Petruff said June 13, that the code enforcement hearing “would likely be postponed,” but was unable to provide confirmation.
Petitions were made available to the public at city hall at the beginning of the June 11 meeting and many of those attending signed the petition supporting the tree house.
Tran is confident she will garner the support needed to bring the matter before the commission for a vote.
Tran said the special ordinance is about correcting a wrong done to her and her husband after they had acted in good faith based upon the advice of a city official in 2011.
“At this point, it is not all about right or wrong. This is not about blaming and debating over a long list of allegations in court or before a code board hearing,” she said.
“It is about finding a win-win solution and a happy ending for all. After all, the tree house is a fun and fond childhood dream for all who love fairy tale stories and something unusual and extraordinary,” Tran said.
If voters approve the ordinance, it will “stop needless legal debates and further loss of time and resources that could be used for better purposes,” she said.
Also at issue is whether Shaffer had the authority in 2011 to approve the tree house construction without a plan, or whether current city officials are correct in claiming the tree house was built illegally.
Tran said Shaffer approved the tree house and she and her husband heard no more of the issue until someone apparently called the Holmes Beach code enforcement office to complain. In 2011, the building department determined the tree house violates setbacks and other regulations as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s requirements for construction seaward of the coastal construction line.
Letters between the city, Angelinos Sea Lodge and its attorney, David Levin, and the DEP indicate there are issues to be dealt with at the state level regardless of the city outcome.
Jim Martinello, environmental manager of the DEP Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, in a letter dated Dec. 14, 2011, requested the owner voluntarily remove the wood-frame deck structure and restore the affected areas within 30 days.
The DEP letter described the tree house construction as an “elevated post-supported, enclosed wood frame deck, with roof viewing deck.” The tree house and “alteration of an existing dune system” without a permit are deemed “possible violations” of state statute, according to the letter.
Tran and her husband have garnered media attention in their fight to keep the tree house. They’ve been featured on NBC’s “Today” show, an Australian TV station and most all Tampa Bay-area media outlets.
“Becoming a celebrity is not what we want. We want to go back to our quiet, peaceful life on the beach and operate the resort for all our friendly guests” Tran said.
The 2013 graduating class of preschoolers at School For Constructive Play, 302 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, sing together during an outdoor ceremony in the school playground. Graduation was delayed a week by Tropical Storm Andrea, but the kids were excited, no matter the day. Before heading off to kindergarten, each student takes one last slide on the jungle gym to receive a certificate from their teachers. Islander Photo: Jo Ann Meilner
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring confirmed 50 sea turtle nests as of June 7, but lost 15 nests to the storm surge created by Tropical Storm Andrea.
AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said the losses were not as bad she expected.
“It’s never good to lose any nests,” she said. “But it could have been worse. The good news is that a storm like this one generates a lot of activity and there has been quite an upsurge in nesting.”
Fox said there were eight nests the day before the storm and AMITW volunteers confirmed eight more the day after Andrea.
While Andrea took a toll, AMITW volunteers had added good news June 7 with the discovery of a rare green sea turtle nest in Bradenton Beach, on the beach near the Cortez Road and Gulf Drive intersection.
It is the fifth green sea turtle nest in 30 years of recording sea turtle activity on the island. Four of them have occurred in the last three years with two during the 2012 nesting season.
Besides losing 15 sea turtle nests, the entire nesting colony of the black skimmer population in Anna Maria was wiped out. Fox said the good news is that more than 200 skimmers have returned to try again.
It was a familiar sight at the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier June 6 as Tropical Storm Andrea’s outer storm bands made their way across Anna Maria Island.
The storm’s impact was less than last year’s Tropical Storm Debby, although beach erosion was evident. It was, however, déjà vu at the city pier, where workers scrambled to protect the structure from wayward boats.
Two boats broke loose from their anchorage in Sarasota Bay and crashed into the pier during Andrea, while TS Debby sent more than a half-dozen boats crashing into the pier deck and pilings.
City officials were relieved to learn most boaters had secured their crafts, although there was enough damage to temporarily close the outer half of the pier.
A 30-foot sailboat hit the pier, but caused little damage, according to Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale. The owner was quickly located and the boat was removed.
A 20-foot sailboat caused significant damage to a lengthy section of railing, cracked a concrete piling and loosened the pier’s center copula.
Speciale said the boat first hit the protective pilings near the floating dock, but continued to slide and hit the pier as the storm pushed it toward the Intracoastal Waterway, scraping and bumping the pier as it went.
About 30 feet of railing was loosened, there was some light damage to the wood deck of the pier and the copula will likely be removed before the pier reopens.
The copula was scheduled to be removed during the upcoming pier renovation project, according to public works director Tom Woodard, and there’s no sense in spending money to repair it.
Woodard said he didn’t expect the eastern half of the pier to remain closed for long.
“It shouldn’t be more than a couple of days,” he said. “The railing needs to be fixed and my guys will take down the copula. The one area of concern is the cracked piling and just how badly damaged it is.”
The pilings will be replaced during the renovation project, but if the integrity of the pier is jeopardized and there’s a safety issue, the closure could be longer.
“I don’t think that will be the case,” said Woodard. “We’ll get out there after the storm and do a better inspection and we’ll have a better idea at that time.”
The good news is that the floating dock adjacent to the pier endured its first test in the choppy waters of the bay as Andrea passed. The new hinges acted as they should, according to BBPD Lt. John Cosby.
“It did real well and everything did what it was supposed to do,” said Cosby. “And fortunately, none of the boats hit the floating dock.”
The floating dock was closed for more than a year when faulty hinges first created a safety issue because sections began to separate. Debby’s arrival ensured its long-term closure by causing further damage.
The floating dock reopened a week prior to Andrea, but held up well and remains open.
City workers secured the 20-foot sailboat that caused most of the damage to the pier until the owner could be contacted.
After securing the pier, Speciale updated commissioners at the June 6 city pier meeting.
“The public works guys got it handled,” said Speciale. The guys did a great job and got out there as soon as we called them. I really believe there would have been a lot more damage if they had not got there as quickly as they did.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy asked for an update on the pier renovation project.
Building official Steve Gilbert said the project remains on schedule.
“I spoke to the lead engineer of ZNS Engineering,” said Gilbert. “We should have drawings in the next couple of weeks. As soon as we have the drawings, we’ll be ready for the scope of work and request for proposal.”
Gilbert said the permitting process through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to go smoothly, but said that could be the only issue in pushing the project beyond a targeted August completion.
“The only unknown is the DEP and corps and what they will do,” said Gilbert. “The project consists of pilings going back into the same holes, so common sense says it shouldn’t be a problem.”
The first tropical storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season didn’t take long to form in the Caribbean and head for Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Hurricane season officially began June 1 and Tropical Storm Andrea formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico June 5.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami originally predicted Andrea would make landfall at the mouth of Tampa Bay, but by early June 6 revised the estimate to a landfall in the Big Bend area. Andrea made landfall that night between Taylor and Dixie counties.
Anna Maria Island was on the eastern side of the storm, which is generally the strongest for wind and rain. The island was struck by high winds and plenty of rain and experienced the usual street flooding and a number of downed tree limbs.
But no island city reported major damage.
“We had a few limbs blown down and some street flooding, but nothing major,” said Anna Maria public works superintendent George McKay.
In Holmes Beach, public works department foreman Gary Blunden said he and staff scouted for major damage, but found none.
“I think we’re OK,” he said. The high tide June 6 occurred around 10:30 p.m. Had the rain continued into the night, the tide could have breached seawalls.
One concern from Andrea could be beach erosion, said Manatee County Director of Natural Resources Charlie Hunsicker. But he also noted that a renourishment project is scheduled for later this year.
U.S. Coast Guard members from Station Cortez responded June 6 as high winds and heavy rains from Tropical Storm Andrea sent a boater toward the Cortez Bridge.
Station Cortez dispatched a 45-foot response boat to the out-of-control vessel and rescued the boater just before the boat struck the bridge.
The Coast Guard reminds boaters to take precautions to ensure safety during severe weather events.
Maria Planning and Zoning Board former chair Doug Copeland and current P&Z member Carol Carter have applied for the city commission vacancy left by the June 1 resignation of Commission Chair John Quam.
At the June 13 city meeting, the remaining four commissioners will select one applicant to fill the remainder of Quam’s term, which expires in November.
If no candidate receives a majority vote on the first ballot, discussion continues, according to the city charter, until one person receives a majority.
The charter makes no provision for what happens if the commission is deadlocked.
Following election of a commissioner, the commission must elect a new chair. Vice Chair Chuck Webb has said he is too busy with his legal practice to be chair, although he has previously served in that capacity.
The charter makes no provision for the mayor to serve as interim commission chair except at the organizational meeting following the November election of new commissioners.
Copeland served on the P&Z board 1990-2004, including several years as board chair. He resigned in 2004 to become a member of the city’s ad hoc charter review committee.
Carter has spent a number of years in leadership positions in education and for nonprofit organizations. She became a P&Z member in early 2013.
Environmental education and enhancement committee chair Bill Malfese, who is employed by the city in the public works department, said he would seek the vacancy, but had yet to file with the city clerk as of press deadline. He said last week he is still considering his decision.
The deadline for candidates to file a short biography accompanied by his or her reasons for seeking the post and 10 voter signatures was June 10.
Bradenton Beach commissioners heard a proposal to open a restaurant on the Historic Bridge Street Pier at a June 6 city commission meeting.
Chef Christopher Ulmer and potential concessionaire Roland Pena, co-owner of the Starfish Cafe at the Vitamin Sea store in Holmes Beach, offered their plan, although the city had not yet discussed its request for proposal to consider a new tenant.
Ulmer said his group wants to lease the restaurant, bait stand and for the restaurant to be a center of activities, such as fishing tournaments and other events.
“Our priority would be not be to market us as Anna Maria Island, but as Bradenton Beach and Bridge Street,” he said. “That is where we are.”
Commissioners also heard from Tami Murphy, owner of Gulf Boat Fun Tours. Murphy recently began offering boat tours at the pier.
She expressed interest in leasing the bait kiosk for her own purposes, but commissioners told her and the Star Fish team that any interest in the restaurant or kiosk is premature.
City attorney Ricinda Perry said she expected to present an RFP to commissioners at the meeting, but wasn’t sure what direction the commissioners want to take.
“Piecing out the pier may not be in the best interest of the city and I don’t want to move forward tonight with any use of the pier,” she said. “I really don’t know what the city wants to do, whether to piecemeal it out or keep it all together.”
Perry suggested scheduling a workshop or special meeting with a single focus on discussing the restaurant and bait kiosk.
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said he didn’t agree that separating the restaurant and kiosk with two tenants would be a bad idea.
“We don’t know that for sure until we get some offers on the table,” he said. “But I don’t want to close any doors at this point and I think this needs more discussion.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy said an RFP is city policy and the fairest way to find a new tenant or tenants, noting that discussing potential new tenants before the RFP would not be prudent.
“There has been some discussion about going separate, but I’m in agreement to do a workshop to see what the best solution is for everyone and to be fair to everybody,” he said.
Commissioners gave a consensus to schedule a workshop. Perry said one would be scheduled within 7-10 days in order to bring an RFP to the next commission meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.
In other matters, commissioners voted 3-1 to have an Australian pine tree removed from Lou Barola Park. Public works director Tom Woodard said a home is being built on the adjacent property and that the tree extends over onto private property.
“The new homeowners would like permission to remove the Australian pine tree and replace with it a native gumbo-limbo tree in the same location,” said Woodard.
Woodard said the property owners are willing to pay for the project and agreed and public works would stipulate the owner to initially maintain the new tree, watering to get it established.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Commissioner Jan Vosburgh. “It’s getting rid of a problem tree, getting a native tree and he’s picking up the cost.”
Gatehouse moved to approve authorizing the property owner to remove and replace the tree. Vosburgh seconded the motion and Shaughnessy joined in voting for approval.
Vice Mayor Ed Straight was absent and Commissioner Gay Breuler voted “nay.”
Commissioners also voted 4-0 to deny a request from BeachHouse Restaurant general manager Rebecca Shannon for a donation toward the Independence Day fireworks July 3 at the restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N.
Shannon said the event has grown into a community event, which in turn benefits the community and its businesses.
“We are looking for help to offset the cost for this event,” said Shannon. “I’m not going to get into the details of the costs, but it’s in the thousands and thousands of dollars and expenses are going up.”
Shannon said restaurant owner Ed Chiles has been honored to hold the event and would like to continue to do so.
Shaughnessy said it was only a few short years ago that the city donated up to $10,000 to various causes, but that the city doesn’t have the money to spend outside of its own needs.
Breuler said budget talks are just about to begin for 2014 and is too late to ask for money this year.
Shannon said her intent was to put the subject out for discussion and wanted to pursue a more official request for next year’s celebration.
She said Bridge Street Merchants has claimed the event to be one of its biggest sales day and recently pledged to help with the cost.
Commissioners voted no for this year, “but at least we get this on the table so people are thinking about it,” said Shannon.
The city commission schedule calls for a city meeting July 4. Commissioners voted 4-0 to cancel the that meeting and rescheduled it for July 11. The July 18 commission meeting also was canceled.
While all the bills and pledges from the Anna Maria Island Community Center’s May 18 gala, An Island Affaire, have not yet come in, executive director Dawn Stiles estimated the total revenue at about $160,000.
That would leave a $40,000 shortfall from what assistant executive director Scott Dell projected in March to the board, before Stiles assumed the directorship April 1.
At the March board meeting, Dell said center revenues were down by $196,000, not counting Island Affaire revenue. He said the gala would raise $200,000-$220,000 and cover the shortfall.
Stiles said she did not know if $160,000 was a good revenue figure or not as this was her first Island Affaire.
“I hope it’s brought up at the June 21 board meeting for discussion,” she said.
Stiles said she would discuss the revenue issue with board director Scott Rudacille before the meeting. She said she needs to know the financial position of the center, and if other revenue streams are needed before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Several people who attended the gala said it appeared to be a sell out.
Much of the revenue, however, depended upon the silent and live auctions and raffle ticket sales. Those amounts should be in the treasurer’s report or in Dell’s report at the June 21 meeting.
Several people suggested the name of the entertainment should have been released in advance of the Affaire.
Stiles said she is working on development and financial plans that will be ready by the board’s September meeting. The center board traditionally does not meet in July or August.
The next board meeting is 8 a.m. Friday, June 21, at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.
A handful of people brushed off raindrops June 5 to hear the benefits of voting in favor of a half-cent sales tax increase proposed on a June 18 countywide ballot.
Manatee County administrator Ed Hunzeker explained the benefits of supporting the tax at a town hall meeting in Holmes Beach.
Hunzeker said the tax stemmed from a discussion that occurred at the county level about who pays for county government.
“Sixty percent of county government is put back on people who own property,” he said. “That’s different from most counties. To put that much of the cost on one group of people is strange and inappropriate.”
Hunzeker alluded to the premise that should voters pass the half-cent sales tax, Manatee County property taxes could decrease by 23 percent in municipalities and by 13 percent in unincorporated areas of the county.
“We started looking at why do we do that when other revenue streams are available to government in order not to put a burden on property taxpayers,” he said.
In 1984, the county sold Manatee Memorial Hospital with the proceeds going toward helping to pay for indigent health care. That money will run out in 2015, and only a portion of those funds are used while the remainder of the balance is paid through property taxes.
Last year, the county paid about $24 million in health care costs. About $9 million was used from the hospital sale fund while more than $14 million was supported by property owners.
“When I first arrived in 2006, an indigent health care task force was formed and they came to me in 2007 to request a half-cent sales tax increase,” said Hunzeker. “I told them, ‘Good luck.’”
Hunzeker said the timing wasn’t right in 2007.
“I told them they have a solution in search of a problem,” he said. “We had not engaged the community in a discussion.”
Hunzeker said the following year a study was done that showed challenges in the county’s health care system and those challenges have led to increasing costs.
“There are basically three big ticket items that are making up the $24 million,” he said. “One is when people go to jail, we have to pay for their health care. The other is Medicaid match, which we are required to pay. The last big thing is that we fund a portion of uncompensated services from people that show up and can’t pay.”
Hunzeker said it’s important for voters to understand that indigent health care isn’t about people who are too lazy to get a job. He said poor people are usually on state or federal programs to help them pay their medical costs.
“It’s the working poor we are talking about here,” he said. “People that have jobs and, because they have jobs, they don’t qualify for help. Or maybe their employer had to cut health insurance during the economic downturn. That’s the people we are talking about. So this mental picture about some slacker smoking and drinking and too lazy to work isn’t what we are necessarily talking about when we say indigent care.”
Hunzeker said once the county understood that a half-cent sales tax increase would generate about $23 million a year, it was clear that a rare occurrence of creating a tax to get tax relief was possible.
“You pass this tax, you get a tax cut,” he told the gallery of mostly island city residents and officials.
The idea is to spread the costs of health care across the board to everyone in the county, instead of the property owners who now pay the lion’s share. That moved Hunzeker to look at other aspects of the county tax bill that he said are off balance.
“There’s other pieces of the puzzle,” he said. “One of the things is the sheriff’s office budget.”
Hunzeker said the $95 million MCSO budget includes $28 million in patrol service, and not every city uses MCSO patrol services, “but they still pay for it.”
He also pointed out that unincorporated areas of the county don’t pay a utility franchise fee, which could also allow lowering property taxes.
His budget plan, if the tax is approved, will include charging unincorporated residents a utility franchise fee on top of the sales tax increase, although unincorporated residents will still save money.
“When we started this process and began looking at changing who pays for government, you look at winners and losers,” he said, noting virtually every time government makes a decision there are both.
“But I couldn’t figure out who the losers are in this scenario,” he said.
Hunzeker said approving the sales tax increase will create only good things for the county and its residents.
“The good side is that we solve our community health care crisis, reduce property taxes, diversify the county revenues, allow more families to apply for mortgages and it’s a better allocation of the sheriff’s office budget.”
Hunzeker told the gallery that if passed, the sales tax would only be used to pay for indigent health care.
“We can’t do anything with it but health care,” he said.
If passed, Hunzeker said Manatee County would have the second lowest property taxes in the region.
“We already have the lowest water, garbage and other things,” he said. “It will be a bargain to live here.”
If it doesn’t pass, Hunzeker said the county commissioners face a challenge in overcoming the $9 million health care fund that runs out in 2015.
“Instead of a tax reduction, the talk will be about a tax increase,” he said. “We don’t have a way to solve that $9 million. The thing about the sales tax is that everybody pays it, including the people who are getting the indigent care. They buy stuff. Visitors buy stuff. Everybody buys something and everybody pays.”
Currently, Manatee County sales tax is 6.5 percent and Manatee is the only county in the area collecting less than 7 percent.
According to IRS tax tables, the average family will pay $52-$64 more a year in sales tax. The increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, if the referendum passes.