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Board rejects plan to ask voters for increase in taxes

Last year the voters rejected a measure that would have funded the renovation of an aging recreation center and make other improvements.

By TIM GRANT

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2000


CARROLLWOOD -- If members of the Original Carrollwood tax board learned anything from last year's failed bid to raise the district's tax cap, it was that homeowners expect them to do their homework.

Instead of placing another referendum on the November ballot to increase taxes in Original Carrollwood, board members announced this week they have decided against the idea.

"We couldn't do it with confidence," said Bob Johnston, president of Carrollwood Recreation District. "The executive committee didn't feel prepared to go to the community with a proposal."

Now they'll spend more time and money preparing for the next time around.

The board has made allowances in next year's proposed budget for professional fees for architectural, design and construction consultation to help them in planning the future of the community.

"We want to get things done in the big picture," Johnston said.

Last year the board proposed several ambitious plans to renovate the aging recreation center and make other improvements, but the community voted down a measure that would have funded those projects.

The measure would have increased the maximum annual assessment for the 937 homes in Original Carrollwood from $300 per household to $550 per household. It failed 340 to 272.

Before and after that vote, board members were criticized for doing a poor job of presenting to the community exactly what the tax increase would be used for.

In other tax board business this week, board members acknowledged the dismissal of office manager Kim Wilcox from her job at the Recreation Center at Orange Grove and MacFarland drives.

Wilcox had worked there for about a year before being fired by Johnston this week.

The board had not planned to discuss the issue until a homeowner questioned the legality of one board member firing the office manager without a board vote.

While the entire board is required to vote on hiring or raising the pay of the office manager, Johnston fired Wilcox on his own.

Without any discussion about the circumstances surrounding Wilcox's firing, board members voted to support Johnston's decision to fire her. Board member Dave Wilcox abstained from voting because he is married to Kim Wilcox. Greg Cox also abstained from voting because he said he was not sure about the legal consequences of firing Wilcox.

Kim Wilcox could not be reached for comment.


-- Tim Grant can be reached at 226-3471 or grant@sptimes.com.

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