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Decision is today on two areas' annexation

While some residents in the two neighborhoods say becoming part of Temple Terrace would improve services, some business owners are upset they have been shut out a process that may hurt them.

By BILL VARIAN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published December 11, 2001


TEMPLE TERRACE -- Doug Hoffman grew tired of the neighbor who parked boats in his front yard and owners of rental homes who didn't keep their properties up.

He wanted to complain to a government closer to home, thinking his chances would be better at getting something done about it. So Hoffman has helped lead an effort to have his Riverdale neighborhood annexed by the city of Temple Terrace.

"We just want a nice looking neighborhood," Hoffman said. "It's all about access to city government in my opinion."

The decision goes to 822 voters today in the Riverdale and Oak Forest neighborhoods historically known as Harney Flats, southeast of Temple Terrace and situated roughly south and east of Harney Road.

But the proposal has brought strong opposition in recent weeks, largely from Harney Flats business owners who say their taxes will go up dramatically under the plan. What irks them most is that they don't get a vote if they don't live in the community.

"Residents have indicated that they feel the levels of service we offer are worth it," said Temple Terrace City Manager Kim Leinbach. "Industrial folks don't like it because they don't have a vote in it."

Hoffman said the taxes and fees associated with becoming part of Temple Terrace are largely a wash for him.

The city charges various utility fees to its residents that will increase monthly bills to homeowners.

But those same residents will no longer have to pay 25 percent surcharges tacked on to their Temple Terrace water and sewer bills because they live outside city limits. Property taxes would fall slightly, under current rates. Joining Temple Terrace parks and recreation programs also will be cheaper.

All told, a typical homeowner with a home valued at $75,000 who claims a $25,000 homestead exemption will pay about $44 more annually in taxes and fees, according to a city analysis.

But the effect is much different on Dale McClellan. As owner of the M & B Dairy off Harney Road, next to Riverdale, he has a cooling system and milk processing center that consume large amounts of electricity.

He said he was told by the city of Temple Terrace his electricity bill alone will go up $53,000 a year due to added fees.

Through the Harney Flats political action committee, he has been posting signs urging residents to vote no.

Because he doesn't live at the farm, he won't get a ballot.

"I'm one of the guys that's going to get hurt," he said.

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