The City of St Petersburg has been conducting a series of informal
discussions with small groups of residents to determine if, as Mayor Rick
Baker stated in his recent letter, "there are any needs which exist within
your community which might make alliance with our city a positive thing".
This is a report on one of those discussions held on Monday December 15th.
discussion was hosted in the law offices of Feather Sound resident Denis
Cohrs, on the second floor of the Intervest Bank building and began at
5:30 p.m. Eight Feather Sound residents met with three representatives
from the City of St Petersburg with Mayor Rick Baker joining the group
shortly after it began.
presentation was given by city staff members starting with a chart
comparing the city's declining millage rate trend over the past several
years to an increasing rate for county residents. The trends in millage
rates was in part attributed a declining tax base for Pinellas County and
increasing efficiencies in managing costs by the City of St Petersburg.
the millage chart was a table comparing the total cost of living in St
Petersburg to living in the county. The table included the cost of other
fees such as city taxes on utilities in addition to property taxes. For
each of the four levels of residential property values given the total
cost of residing in the city was greater than the county. Residents were
told that a model would be available on the city's website which would
allow them to calculate a cost comparison using values for their own
property. Alternatively residents may contract city staff member Gary
Jones at 893-7877 to run this computation. Another set of displays was
presented with pictures of enhancements to St Petersburg neighborhoods
such as landscaping, signage and neighborhood monuments as examples of
improvements provided by the city.
members described the annexation process used in other St Petersburg
acquisitions such as that of the Carillon development just south of
Feather Sound. Prior to a vote by residents on annexation the city would
specify in an agreement what actions it would take should residents decide
in favor of joining the city. All registered voters in Feather Sound would
be eligible to vote on the issue.
The group was
then asked to comment on what they thought was working well in the
community. The list included fire and police services, county construction
permitting processes, street lighting, traffic calming measures and trash
collection. Residents cited the convenience of a location in the center of
the bay area and expressed a high level of satisfaction with the quality
of life offered.
what was not working well, the condition of privately held roads at the
Egret entrance was high on the list of concerns. Uncertainty regarding the
impact of possible development of the Airco Golf course between the
airport and Feather Sound was also raised as an important issue.
Occasional flooding on some roads was mentioned, as was the need for
improved communications between residents and government agencies. When
asked his opinion regarding the development of the golf course Mayor Baker
stated that if Feather Sound were a part of St Petersburg he would ask
residents what they would like done with the land and would be an advocate
of their concerns. This was qualified with an acknowledgement that the
golf course is the property of the airport and that it is uncertain what
impact the City of St Petersburg could have on negotiating in the interest
of area residents.
of a possible mailing address change was discussed with the group split on
whether a St Petersburg address would be preferable to Clearwater in the
event of annexation. Residents found that they had mixed perceptions of
images associated with each of the municipalities.
questions were asked by city staff members as to what services or
enhancements could persuade the group to vote in favor of annexation and
what reasons they could give for voting against annexation. These were
listed and assigned a weight of high, medium or low concern.
At the end of
the meeting Mayor Baker excused himself to attend another function. He
thanked those in attendance for participating, stated that no decision had
been reached by the city and that further evaluation was needed. He
invited the group to look at some of the performance measures for the city
available on its website www.stpete.org
and noted the 108 neighborhood associations in the city as evidence of its
community-based initiatives. Residents thanked Mayor Baker and
complimented city staff members on an informative session.
The group was told that because of the number of meetings and amount of
information being collected that a second letter to residents from Mayor
Rick Baker originally scheduled for December would be delayed to January
2004. This second letter will be a report on the information gathered from
the informal discussions and what course from here the city of St
Petersburg intends to take. The discussion ended at 8:00 p.m.