Pinellas Park to see higher sewer rates
By ANNE LINDBERG
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 17, 2000
PINELLAS PARK -- After research verified that the county's charges are legal, the City Council unanimously agreed Thursday to raise sewer rates by 41 percent.
The increase, which will show up in February bills, is a pass-through of a cost increase from Pinellas County, which supplies sewer service to Pinellas Park. The price per thousand gallons will rise from $3.49 to $4.93.
About 32 cents of the increase stems from improvements the county has made to its sewer plant during the past five or six years. That means Pinellas Park residents will be paying retroactively for work that was done several years ago.
City resident Charles Settgast questioned that retroactive charge, among other things. The council had tabled the matter while assistant city attorney Tom Reynolds investigated the legality of that and other charges.
"In our opinion, the county has a right to raise those rates," Reynolds told council members at a pre-meeting workshop. "Even retroactively."
Council member Chuck Williams asked, "Are there any other outs?"
"No, sir, not that we can find," Reynolds answered.
That conclusion angered Settgast when the item came up later, during Thursday's meeting. He accused the council of being lazy and failing to represent residents' interests.
Settgast's accusations irked council members and the city manager, who suggested that Settgast take a tour of the sewer plant to see for himself what was being discussed.
"The answer is you only want to hear what you want to hear," Mayor Bill Mischler told Settgast.
Council member Rick Butler chimed in: "I think we've beat this horse as far as we can beat it." Butler suggested that Settgast run for county commission if he wanted to oversee the sewer plant and work on lowering rates.
In other action, the Pinellas Park council:
Decided to spend $489,000 for a mobile communications system for the police department. About $214,800 will come from a federal grant. Pinellas Park will pay the rest.
Authorized spending about $239,300 for architectural services to design a train station on Park Boulevard.
Agreed to pay the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office at least $70,900 for crime scene services for the coming year.
Authorized spending about $228,400 for a catch basin cleaning vehicle for the drainage maintenance division.
Agreed to spend up to $486,100 for improvements to the city's sewer system.
Postponed until Jan. 25 a decision to allow the Mainlands golf course to build a new parking area.
Agreed to spend $66,100 to update the master plan for the city's water and waste water facilities.
Decided to pay about $23,600 for a pickup truck for the building maintenance division.
Tabled a decision to eliminate the Pinellas Park Housing Authority.
Agreed to buy a backhoe for the reclaimed water division for about $51,300.
Gave tentative approval to an ordinance that would locate adult businesses in industrial areas, farther from residences, churches and schools. Final approval is scheduled for Jan. 11.
Agreed to pay about $27,400 for a dump truck for the street maintenance division.
Decided to spend about $9,980 for a tractor for the parks division.
Agreed to spend about $14,500 for furniture for the new library.
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