10/10/17 Local Government
LARGO –– A member of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board has denied allegations that he abused his position to push through a rule change that could have benefitted his own business.
10/04/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Commission is trying to convince voters to renew the 1-cent Penny for Pinellas sales tax for another decade.
So this news comes at an inconvenient time: The commission recently decided to sell off a piece of land at a loss of $1.7 million — money that was raised by the penny sales tax.
09/29/17 Local Government
Pinellas commissioners and legislators have spent 10 months debating how to fix the dysfunctional Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board. But as the deadline to submit legislation to reform the independent agency approached Friday, County Attorney Jewel White dropped this bombshell:
Pinellas County may not have the legal authority to take over all the duties of the licensing board.
If that's the case, then the county could not take over the agency. The licensing board would remain independent, although with new accountability measures recommended by a grand jury....
09/28/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– It's easy to pass a $2.2 billion budget when rising property values bring in extra cash.
The Pinellas County Commission unanimously approved the 2017-18 budget this week with little discussion. The millage rate stayed the same, so commissioners said they were also to continue providing residents with "high-quality services" without increasing taxes.
ST. PETERSBURG — The city's African-American deputy mayor, Kanika Tomalin, turned to Facebook over the weekend to call out a local clothing store for what she says was blatant racial profiling.
Tomalin said she was shopping at the Central Avenue boutique MISRED Outfitters on Saturday when a clerk asked her and her cousin to prove they were eligible for the store's "Healthcare Appreciation Day Discount." The clerk, Tomalin said, had not asked the white woman in line ahead of them to prove she was a health care worker....
09/27/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– Pinellas County's seven commissioners declared that they're ready to take over the responsibility of regulating contractors.
The commission on Tuesday renewed its call for lawmakers to place the independent but flawed Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board under the control of county government.
09/26/17 Economic Development
Pinellas and Hillsborough counties will join forces in an effort to convince Amazon to build a new world headquarters in the Tampa Bay area.
CLEARWATER--The removal and processing of debris from Hurricane Irma in unincorporated Pinellas County could cost an estimated $15 million.
County administrator Mark Woodard told commissioners Monday the county is working to "optimize" reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The county estimates it must clear 600,000 cubic yards of debris, enough to fill a line of 50,000 dump trucks stretching 221 miles....
09/26/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission will be busy on Tuesday.
The end of the current fiscal year is approaching, so the commission's agenda includes setting the final millage rates for the 2017-2018 budget.
The commission could also address the situation with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, which was the subject of two reports Sept. 20. An inspector general's report outlined 93 problems with the agency while a grand jury outlined how to reform it....
09/25/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.
State Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican running for governor, told the Pinellas legislative delegation that he would not sponsor any new legislation reforming the agency. Those reforms were suggested by a grand jury report released Sept. 20, the same day that an inspector general's report lashed the agency and its former leadership....
09/25/17 Local Government
LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.
09/23/17 Local Government
LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.
The 10 members of the Pinellas legislative delegation are set to meet Monday to discuss a law that would overhaul the troubled agency but some officials have questioned whether they'll be able to agree on what that law should say....
The Tampa Bay area has an estimated 2 million cubic yards of debris from Hurricane Irma waiting at the curb — enough to fill a line of dump trucks stretching 735 miles, or from Tampa to Tupelo, Miss.
But many trucks that could help make those tree limbs disappear are instead heading to South Florida, where hauling fees have shot up since the hurricane.
That has left several bay area communities and their private storm debris contractors scrambling....
09/20/17 Local Government
LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.
The report outlined 93 problems at the agency responsible for protecting residents from shoddy contractors, including that former executive director Rodney Fischer "violated county rules and ethics requirements" and that a member of the agency's governing board "misused his position."...
09/15/17 Local Government
LARGO — As Election Day approaches, Pinellas County's elected officials will point to Hurricane Irma as a big reason why voters should renew the next round of the Penny for Pinellas 1-cent sales tax.
The last round of the penny tax helped pay for an important asset the county utilized during the storm, the Pinellas County Public Safety Complex, an $81 million fortress built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane....