Vol 7 No. 6 - November 1, 2006

 

Tax break comes under fire

Fishermen sue over tracking device

Kingfish annexation to proceed

Cast your ballot Nov. 7

City candidates square off in Sun forum

Mayoral, commission hopefuls hold forth

County candidates face the public

WAVES seeks quorum to form

 

 

 

Tax break comes under fire

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

Manatee County Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr. is working to put a new tax deferral ordinance into operation in time to apply to this month’s property tax bills, but he says it’s turning out to be a Pandora’s box.

The ordinance - adopted last month without input from the tax collector, he said - was the Manatee County Commission’s response to complaints from tourist accommodations owners about skyrocketing taxes.

It allows owners of certain properties to defer paying the county portion of their property taxes. Taxes levied by the school board, municipalities and other taxing authorities must be paid in full.

While County Commissioner Pat Glass has called it a "life boat," and Coalition Against Runaway Taxation President Don Schroder has called it a "stop-gap program," Burton is less encouraging.

"It’s a wet Band-aid on a ruptured artery," he said at a press conference on Monday. "This may be a viable alternative for somebody in desperation mode."

For example, a property owner with property assessed at $1 million with property taxes of $19,174 would only have $2,281 deferred under the ordinance, calculated on the 2002 value of the properties plus 5 percent for each subsequent year. The rest of the taxes must be paid by March 31, 2007, and the deferred amount will accrue interest at about 5-6 percent, payable when the property is sold or changes use. The tax collector’s office will have a lien on the property to ensure payment.

In addition to offering limited assistance, the new law treats property owners differently, with three sets of rules depending on where their property is located, he said.

For example, it allows tax deferments for all public lodging establishments on Anna Maria Island and the portion of Longboat Key located in Manatee County, whether or not they are on the water. But it only allows deferments for public lodging establishments in the rest of Manatee County that adjoin a navigable water body. So, a motel on the Manatee River is eligible but a hotel across the street from the river is not, he said.

A third set of rules applies to Cortez Village. All property in the village, south of Cortez Road and west of 102nd Street that is described and used as recreational and commercial working waterfront under Florida Statutes 342.07(2) is eligible, not just public lodging establishments, but "docks, wharfs, lifts, wet and dry marinas, boat ramps, boat hauling and repair facilities, commercial fishing facilities, boat construction facilities, and other support structures over the water," according to the statute. But similar water-related businesses on Anna Maria Island are not included, only public lodging establishments, he said.

The definition of "public lodging establishment" is another Pandora’s box, Burton said. It includes a hotel, motel, resort condominium, non-transient apartment, transient apartment, roominghouse, bed and breakfast inn or resort dwelling, with definitions for each. For example, a "resort condominium" is any unit or group of units in a condominium, cooperative, or timeshare plan which is rented more than three times in a calendar year for periods of less than 30 days.

Burton said he will interpret all the language "broadly," but will be cross-checking applications for fraud, especially looking for taxpayers applying for the tax exemption who claim to own a public lodging establishment but do not pay the tourist tax. The deferment does not apply to the tourist tax.

Adding to the complexity is that property owners seeking the deferral must meet several requirements, including proving they have fire, wind and flood insurance in excess of the total of all outstanding liens, deferred taxes, non-ad valorem assessments and interest.

In addition, the primary financing on the property cannot exceed 70 percent of the assessed value of the property, and the total amount of deferred taxes, non-ad valorem assessments and interest plus the total amount of all other unsatisfied liens on the property cannot exceed 85 percent of the assessed value of the property.

The Manatee County ordinance is apparently the first one of its kind in Florida, Burton said, adding that Palm Beach County is considering a similar plan.

Meanwhile, Burton’s office will host a workshop Monday night to explain the workings of the ordinance. The Nov. 6 workshop at 7 p.m. at the Manatee Convention Center in Palmetto will cover who is eligible for the deferral and how to apply before the Jan. 31 deadline.

To determine eligibility for the program and download an application, click on the "wizard" at the tax collector’s website, www.taxcollector.com.

Fishermen sue over tracking device

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – It’s not just the idea of being constantly monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, although that’s about as appetizing as week-old fish.

A new, satellite-based vessel monitoring system program could put commercial fishermen out of business, according to Cortez fisherman Glen Brooks, president of the Gulf Fishermen's Association, which sued last week to halt the program.

"It will flat out ruin everybody," he said.

The program, scheduled to take effect Dec. 7, requires all boat owners with Gulf of Mexico commercial reef fish permits to buy a satellite transmitter, pay for it to be professionally installed, pay yearly communications fees and pay to maintain it.

The unit transmits a signal once per hour identifying the latitude and longitude of a vessel anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico. The requirement is designed to assist law enforcement officers in monitoring areas closed to fishing and restricting fishing to protect spawning fish or areas that are overfished, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Buying and installing the transmitter will cost from $3,495 to $3,800, according to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, with communication service fees ranging from $480 to $660 a year.

For Brooks, who owns six boats, that’s a bundle, but while he predicts he will survive, it’s the small operators who will really suffer, he said.

A program announced Friday by NOAA to reimburse boat owners for up to $3,095 per transmitter does not eliminate the economic impact of the program, he said.

"We still have to pay for installation and monitoring fees, and most marine electronics don’t last long, so there’s repair," he said, adding that if the transmitter breaks down in the middle of a deep-sea trip, the boat is required to stop fishing and immediately return to dock for repairs, cutting short the catch.

"We’re barely making it as it is," said Brooks, who remembers that requirements 25 years ago were a life jacket, a flare gun and a VHS radio. Now, he said, there are emergency radio beacons, throw rings, horns, books, charts, trip tickets, expense reports, enough red tape to jam a propeller, and now, what feels to some like a very expensive house arrest bracelet.

"It never ends," he said. "It’s another bite out of what little profit we can make."

Kingfish annexation to proceed

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Commissioners have agreed to pursue a voluntary annexation of Kingfish Boat Ramp and a new interlocal agreement with the county to maintain it.

City commissioners and residents of Westbay Cove have been at odds with Manatee County officials regarding increasing the ramp’s parking area and removing the Brazilian peppers between the ramp and the condo. Both the city and county had surveys done, which showed that the ramp area, previously thought to be within the city limits, was in the county.

"All we’re trying to do is define our city limits," Mayor Carol Whitmore said. "We ‘re not looking to take over the boat ramp. We just want our city limits to go to the bridge where we’ve had them for 50 years."

Commissioner David Zaccagnino told commissioners of his meeting with Manatee County Commission Chairman Joe McClash and representatives of Westbay Cove to try and reach a compromise.

Tentative plans include relocating palm tree islands to increase parking and limit and define the ingress and egress; removing the Brazilian peppers to the west, possibly leaving a buffer between the condos and the ramp; moving the permanent restroom location closer to the ramp area; and directing overflow parking to the Coquina Bayside ramps.

"It makes absolutely no sense to enlarge a boat ramp that encourages people from Tampa, Lakeland and east county to hook up a boat and drag it all the way here to put in the water," Commissioner Roger Lutz declared. "Build it where the boaters are."

Whitmore agreed with Lutz and said the county needs to build more boat ramps, such as the one proposed for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

"For safety and police control, it would be an advantage to annex it, but at the same time, we need to have a new agreement with the county and find out what control we have within that state right of way," Commission Chairman Rich Bohnenberger said.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said the current interlocal agreement expires at the end of the month.

"I don’t want to upset them and think that we’re trying to take over the ramp," Zaccagnino protested.

"The boat ramp was built by the county when they thought it was in the city" Bohnenberger pointed out.

Petruff said the Florida Department of Transportation would still own the property and the ramp would still be operated under the auspices of the county subject to Holmes Beach regulations.

"The perceived disadvantage to the county would be that the county would have to come to this commission for site plan approval to make amendments to that area," Petruff explained.

She suggested that Bohnenberger write McClash and tell him that the city commission would like to explore a voluntary annexation.

Cast your ballot Nov. 7

November 7 is election day and Island residents can go to the following polling places to vote.

Anna Maria: Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

Bradenton Beach: Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Holmes Beach: Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and residents will need a photo I.D. to vote. Sun endorsements are on Page 10 of today’s edition.

 

 

City candidates square off in Sun forum

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH —Candidates for two city commission seats met last week at a forum sponsored by The Sun to respond to questions posed by the city’s residents.

Candidates include former Mayor and Commission Pat Geyer, incumbent Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens, resident Sheila Hurst, former Commissioner Don Maloney and Planning Commission Vice Chair John Monetti.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7, and voting is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The city’s voters will cast their ballots at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive.

Opening statements
John Monetti is vice chair of the planning commission. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Notre Dame and has been general manager of the Columbia restaurant on St. Armand’s Circle for 12 years.

"I was instilled with a set of values that says you need to have some balance in your life and make a commitment to your family, your work and your community," he explained. "I believe you should give back to your community in any way you can.

"I think I can help the community most by running for this city commission. A number of people in positions of leadership in the community approached me and felt I had something to offer, that being a common sense approach to maintaining the beauty and balance of our community."

Sandy Haas-Martens, an eight-year veteran of the city commission, serves a vice chairperson of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council. She retired in 1995 as vice president and branch manager of First of America Bank.

"I have either worked and lived out here since 1969, and I have been very active in the community" she said. "After I retired from banking, I decided to give back to the community that helped me with my career.

"I want to continue to bring the leadership and dignity that we’ve worked for the past eight years and to continue working with local state, city and county governments.

Don Maloney is currently on the city’s code enforcement board and served on the city commission for nine years. Maloney is retired from the Harris Corporation, where he worked in management for 30 years.

"Service has always been one of my major talents," Maloney pointed out. "During my 10 years with the city, I served actively as liaison to Florida and National leagues of cities, Florida Emergency Preparedness Association and both our governor’s and national hurricane conferences.

"All I’ve been involved in provided opportunities to bring back to Holmes Beach the many ideas and suggestions to help with some of our own existing problems and by learning from difficulties that other similar cities had faced."

Pat Geyer served as a commissioner from 1970 to 1990 and mayor from 1990 to 1994 and owns the popular Duffy’s Tavern. She is active in the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Anna Maria Elementary School, the Privateer’s Scholarship program and Island Girl Scout troops.

"I first came to the Island in’54, built a house in ’55 and moved here in ’61," Geyer said. "I raised five daughters and have been in business at Duffy’s since ‘71.

"I do hear a lot of complaining and a lot of good things that people say about Holmes Beach. A little common sense is all we need and I plan to keep the Island a paradise forever."

Sheila Hurst has been an addiction therapist at Manatee Glens for the past three years. She is president of Save Anna Maria, serves on the board of directors of the Holmes Beach Civic Association and is a former member of the city’s beautification board.

"I’ve lived on the Island for over 12 years, leaving briefly to go back to New York to finish my master’s degree at SUNY Albany, always knowing that we would be back." she said.

"I am the president of Save Anna Maria, a little community organization that takes on a lot of these tough issues," Hurst said. "One of the biggest things that I’ve learned is to listen to you guys. If people aren’t heard, they get discouraged and walk away."

Questions
Q: Would you support consolidation of services or do you think it’s a dead idea?

Haas-Martens said she thinks Island consolidation is a dead idea and she does not support consolidation of services. Geyer and Hurst think consolidation of services could be pursued. Monetti and Maloney said the voters approved a study of Island consolidation and the commission should honor their wishes.

Q: What will you do about the increasing taxes on business owners and residents?

Maloney, Geyer, Haas-Martens and Monetti said they think the planning commissions’ proposed mixed-use district, which would allow residences above business in the commercial district, would be beneficial to business owners.

Maloney said businesses should be taxed based on their profits like people pay income taxes. Monetti said businesses should be taxed on their actual use not on highest and best use. Haas-Martens said she would work with the local legislative delegation, and Geyer said she supports CART (Coalition Against Runaway Taxes). Hurst said she would seek solutions from professionals.

Q: What will you do about the escalating cost of wind insurance and its availability to Island property owners?

All the candidates said they would lobby their local legislative delegation because relief has to come from the state level.

Q: What can be done to stop the exodus of businesses from the Island?

Haas-Martens and Geyer said residents should patronize Island businesses. Maloney said business owners and officials should lobby in Tallahassee. Hurst said she would consult experts. Monetti said officials must take a hard look at the effects of the exodus and find solutions to help the businesses.

Q: What is the one thing that you believe would improve life in Holmes Beach in the next 10 years?

Monetti: If we could figure out a way to maintain what we have now and accommodate development out east such as increasing trolley service from in town and enhancing opportunities for people to use their recreational time in town.

Haas-Martens: Support the trolley, the skate park and other recreational activities, the Community Center, All Island Denominations — the things that make the Island what it is.

Maloney: We need to get our citizens more involved in city government. We need to listen to their desires and do something about it.

Geyer: Try to keep it the nice place it is.

Hurst: Community, neighborhood, that’s what counts. Be more environmentally aware and promote more eco-tourism.

Mayoral, commission hopefuls hold forth

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — It was a full house as candidates for mayor and city commission sat on the dais and touted their campaigns.

The 2006 Sun Candidates’ Forum on Oct. 26 was marked with some tense moments as a few barbs were exchanged, but for the most part, the candidates stuck to the issues.

There are two candidates running for mayor: Fran Barford and Tom Turner. Three candidates are running for two seats on the city commission: incumbents Linda Cramer and Duke Miller and challenger Jo Ann Mattick.

Each candidate got three minutes to introduce him or herself.

Mayoral introductions
Fran Barford noted she has an extensive background in government. She was a commissioner and mayor in Temple Terrace. She’s served on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and has chaired major committees with the Florida League of Cities.

Currently, Barford chairs Anna Maria’s planning and zoning board. She is active in many local civic organizations and serves is a long-range planner for Roser Memorial Community Church.

Barford, a retired occupational therapist, and her husband, George, a retired labor relations attorney, have owned property in Anna Maria since 1987.

Tom Turner
Tom Turner served for six years on the city’s planning and zoning board. He also served four years on the code enforcement board.

As a member of planning and zoning, he helped write the city’s land development regulations. He said his one regret about those codes is that the city commission did not take his advice and insert a sunset clause into every ordinance so the city would automatically have to review each code at some point in time.

Turner spent his career in the Air Force. He’s a pilot who has flown missions all over the world. Upon his retirement from the service, Turner became an insurance claims adjuster.

Turner was active in the city until his late wife, Angie, fell ill. He then spent the next two years caring for her. After his wife’s death, Turner has again turned his attention to the city and is a regular at city commission meetings.

Commission candidates
Linda Cramer is seeking a fourth term on the commission. She’s lived in the city for 26 years. She is an independent painting contractor who lives with her 20-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son.

Jo Ann Mattick has lived in the city since 2001. She came to the city from Cincinnati where she worked in the medical field. She was responsible for getting the city a $300,000 grant from the state to use to make the business district more attractive and pedestrian-friendly. Three of Mattick’s five children and several of her grandchildren live nearby.

Mattick said one of her main goals would be to reduce the amount of money spent on experts such as legal, engineering and planning advisors.

Duke Miller is seeking a third term on the commission. His family has owned property on the Island for 50 years, and he’s been coming here since his childhood.

Miller and his wife, Linda, have lived here permanently since 2000.

Property taxes and insurance
The forum audience submitted questions to the candidates. One of the most often submitted questioned was what, if anything, could be done at the local level to curtail high property taxes and out-of-control insurance premiums.

Turner said he’d like to see property taxes based on the actual use of a property rather than the highest and best use standard that is currently used.

"I’d like to see the three Island cities and Longboat Key work at the county level to knock off that best use basis for taxing," Turner said. "One of my goals as mayor would be to form a coalition and go to the county commission and the property appraiser to get this straightened out."

He said that as far as he can see, there is little that can be done about insurance rates.

"That has to come from the federal level," he said.

Barford said she thinks both issues can be addressed with lobbying.

We should get a groundswell," she said. "At the municipal level, that’s all we can do. We’re seeing people upset about this. I think the Florida League of Cities is would be a good vehicle. They’ve protected home rule. It has to come from the ground up."

Mattick said she thinks the cities and the citizens should form some kind of a voting block.

"We have to make our city heard in Tallahassee," she said. "We need to reach a solution. A lot of people are moving out of the county."

Cramer said both property taxes and insurance rates are something that the city needs to do some lobbying on.

"In my platform, that’s one of the most challenging things going on at the city and the county level," she said. "There need to be better guidelines at the county assessment level."

Miller said that property taxes and insurance are the two of the biggest issues facing everyone today.

"There is nothing the city commission can do as a voting body," he said. "There is no jurisdiction. But as I’ve said before, we who live on the Island represent five percent of the county’s population, but our taxes pay for 20 percent of the county’s budget."

With his tongue in his cheek, Miller said that short of seceding from the county, which "isn’t quite practical," he’d suggest the formation of steering committee that could monitor events.

"We need to present a unified front and especially to stop the erosion of the business base that the high taxes and insurance rates area causing," he added.

The city’s business climate
Barford said that in chairing the P&Z board while it was working on the comp plan, she realized that the business community hadn’t gotten a fair deal in the past.

"It’s tough to make it with the wind insurance and the taxes," she said. "I think we’ve done a lot to help business with the current version of the comp plan."

Turner said it is tough to open a business on Pine Avenue.

"For somebody to open a business, it would take $300,000 to buy the land and another $300,000 to build. Nobody can come out here and expect to make a profit."

Miller said he volunteered to work with the Anna Maria Merchant’s Association, but no one took him up on his offer.

"I offered my marketing background to help out," he said. "No one took me up on it, and I understand they’re not active now. I think the key is to encourage some kind of activity that will draw people here."

Cramer said that the tax and insurance base that businesses have to handle "is quite burdensome."

She said that she thinks planning is the key to the commercial development of Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue.

"I think that we need a walkable community to revitalize our business community," she said. "We don’t want to turn it into a manicured landscape, pristine, but we want to enhance our village character."

Cramer referred to a $3,500 line item that she wasn’t able to get into the city budget to pay for a consultant who works on walkable community plans.

She also said she thinks that more festivals such as Bayfest would help the business community.

Mattick noted that she had owned her own business in the city, but there wasn’t a lot of support.

"I feel we didn’t get the support," she said. "It involved long hours. Maybe it wasn’t the right business. Real estate seems to be OK, but here on the north end of the Island, we don’t get a lot of people,"

She said tourism has dropped off and some of the small motels have been converted to condos, because they weren’t able to make improvements or get insurance.

Coastal overlay district (COD)
The city is studying the idea of more strict building regulations in the area running along the water side of the city from Gulf Drive around Bean Point and on to Bimini Bay. There has been an outside legal opinion from a land use expert that said certain clauses in the ordinance need to be tweaked or the city could face challenges under the Bert Harris Act.

Cramer said she thinks further study is needed and there is time to do that with the building moratorium in place in that district.

"I’m not sure we need it, especially if there will be legal challenges," she said. "We should be able to protect the dune system with the comp plan."

Mattick said that in her opinion, the whole idea for the COD came from a questionable source.

"In my opinion, this was generated by a resident on North Shore Drive," Mattick said. "It was about unplatted lots on North Shore. In my view, it was to protect their view, not for health, safety and welfare."

She said that she thinks approval of the COD would open the city to lawsuits for taking away property rights.

At that point, Mattick accused Miller of endorsing 11,000 square foot houses.

Miller countered:
"Ms Mattick has taken things totally out of context," he said. "Our planner said there are some houses that size on the north end of Siesta Key where someone tore down 15 houses, combined five lots and built 11,000 square foot houses. Siesta Key had to react. We are looking at the COD so we don’t have that here."

Miller said he doesn’t know if he’s in favor of the COD or not.

"We’re still studying it," he said.

Barford said she thinks the issue needs close attention.

"The attorney has raised red flags and it really hit me that if we try to do a lean budget and we get lawsuits, I’m just not sure we need it," she said.

Turner said he thinks the whole idea has been a waste of money.

"Strengthen the preservation areas in the comprehensive plan, and that eliminates it," he said. "It’s shut down and goes no further.

Other issues
The issue of attendance came up. Both Miller and Cramer missed a number of meetings. Cramer said she had missed meetings to attend her daughter’s basketball games, for health reasons and to work in Arcadia after Hurricane Charley.

Miller said he had missed some meetings, because he had to be out of town as he and his wife chair the Southern Academy of Peridontology and have to attend annual meetings. He said he thinks the issue can be avoided with increasingly flexible commission meeting schedule.

All the candidates urged everyone to go to the polls and vote on Nov. 7.

 

County candidates face the public

By Pay Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Sarah Meaker and Carol Whitmore, who are seeking the Manatee County Commission District 6 at large seat, met to respond to questions at The Sun’s forum for city commission candidates last week.

Each gave an opening statement and answered three questions posed by The Sun’s editorial staff.

Whitmore, the current mayor of Holmes Beach has been in office as a commissioner or mayor since 1991. She is an RN and currently works in the office of her husband, Dr. Andre Renard.

"I have the experience to represent all of Manatee County," Whitmore said. "I drive from the Island to University Parkway every day, so I ‘m aware of what’s going on throughout the county.

"I have good relationships with all the mayors in the county and the county commissioners. I have committed to quitting my job and working full time for Manatee County."

Meaker is a resource specialist for alternative certification for the Manatee County School system. She has a PhD in leadership education with a specialization in human resource development, a master’s degree in instructional leadership and BA in arts of political science.

"I had my own business, an international business, for 12 years," Meaker said. "I have dealt with the U.S. and Florida departments of education. I have been appointed to a national task force through my job.

"I want to preserve the quality of life in Manatee County. I came here because of the beauty. I want to preserve that and create more of that."

Questions
Q: Would you lower the tax rate given the fact that the appreciation of real estate in the county will continue to increase?

Meaker: It’s more than lowering the milage rate. The other piece of the pie is doing something to stabilize the amount of money collected. There’s a provision in the statute that says we can hold taxes to the level that they are.

We should do something to get to that point, so the increases we have for a few years are just inflationary increases, and force county government to live within that budget.

Whitmore: I have not raised the milage since I’ve been mayor and lowered it two times. I believe in living within your means, but I can’t make a commitment until I look at the county budget.

I have ideas on lowering the milage that I want to bring forward because I’ve been fiscally conservative. But I want to meet with staff before I bring it to the county commission.

Q: What can you do as county commissioner to help people with the insurance crisis?

Whitmore: It was one of my top issues when I met with Sen. Bennett to see what he could do to help us. It is definitely a state issue, so we have to be able to have the relationships to deal with our state legislators.

I know they’re going to have a special session with the governor. I feel that we have to be able to go to Tallahassee to lobby.

Meaker: The county commission and the state need balance. When the state passed this bill that left us with these high insurance prices, no one at the local level was screaming for the people of Manatee County.

One of the first things I will do is I will contact the state legislators and ask that they immediately call for a special session to work on the insurance crisis.

Q: How would you resolve the situation at Kingfish ramp?

Meaker: A semi-agreement has been reached between the residents and the county. I would like to see that play out. Whenever we have these issues, it’s important for people to come together and learn to collaborate and learn to mediate through differences instead of taking sides and screaming.

Whitmore: There’s two issues — defining the city boundaries and maintaining the ramp. Last night, our commission decided to look at proceeding with moving the city limits to the bridge and having the county maintain the ramp.

 

 

WAVES seeks quorum to form

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The group that will handle the city’s Waterfronts Florida designation found out last week that it never accepted its bylaws, but fell short of having the required number of members present to take a vote to correct the situation.

WAVES (Waterfronts Accessible, Viable, Ecological Sustainable) was formed after the city won Waterfronts Florida status earlier this year and was put under the auspices of Bradenton Beach Programs/Projects Manager Dottie Poindexter.

After Poindexter resigned last month, City Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips stepped in as intermediate facilitator until the city finds a replacement for Poindexter.

During the meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 25, only six voting members showed up. The group had 16 voting members and two non-voting members.

A list of members showed that one member, Michael Bazzy, had resigned and four others were listed as not members any longer due to absence, although the group never voted them out.

Phillips pointed out that the group had never voted on bylaws and they were able to get one of the absent members, David Teitelbaum, on a cell phone. It was suggested that he could vote by phone to make what they felt was a quorum, but Mayor John Chappie disagreed.

"It was stated in the bylaws, that it should be members present," he said. "If you want to put it in the bylaws that members could vote by phone, you could, but you need to vote to accept them first."

Phillips decided that they did not have a quorum and set the next meeting for Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 4 p.m. She then updated those present on a number of items.

Phillips had ordered 1,000 canvas bags, which she and other members had been passing out as a way to urge people to quit using plastic bags. She said that the plastic bags blow around, especially at the beach, and end up littering the water and sand and endangering fish and turtles that try to eat them.

Phillips said she passed out hundreds of bags during Bayfest, where WAVES had a booth. She said people were enthusiastic about using the canvas bags.

"One reason they are so popular is because they’re free," she admitted. "I have no problem with that. If we can affect a culture change, it’s worth it."

Phillips said they are almost out of the bags, which cost $2.10 each and talked about getting the local business community to help purchase new ones.

She suggested having the businesses, such as resorts and restaurants, print their name on one side and the WAVES logo on the other and give them out to their customers.

Dawn Betts, who works for Teitelbaum at his resorts, said they would be good to hold information for visitors to the city. Since there was no quorum, the group decided to discuss the subject at a subsequent meeting.

Ed Chiles asked about a followup to the Dan Burden’s lecture on Walkable Communities that WAVES sponsored.

"I would like to have him return to the city to do am audit by walking around and seeing where we could make improvements," Phillips said. "He could make specific recommendations."

Phillips said Burden’s rate is $2,000 per day, and they would need to look for a grant to pay for that.

The group adjourned an hour after the meeting started, and Phillips asked the city clerk’s office to e-mail members before the next meeting so they could have a quorum and be able to vote.


 

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