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Date of Issue: December 13, 2007

Anna Maria passes resolution to implement stormwater fee

Faced with a rapidly approaching deadline, Anna Maria city commissioners at their Dec. 6 meeting unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing Manatee County Tax Collector Ken Burton to collect a stormwater utility fee for the city.

But the when and how-much of the fee are still to be determined.

The city had to get its resolution to Burton by Jan. 1, 2008, if it wants to start collecting the fee - called ERU funds- in fiscal year 2008-09.

Mayor Fran Barford said the next step in the process, which the city has been considering for the past four years, is to have a study done on how much the ERU should be, along with a number of other issues associated with implementation of the fee and what stormwater problems should be addressed first.

Commissioners also received a legislative update from state Rep. Bill Galvano and learned that a major issue facing the Florida Legislature is still property insurance along the coast. A number of leading carriers have canceled their Florida policies and Galvano and others are working feverishly to bring new companies to the state that will issue policies in the coastal high-hazard zones.

That’s an issue that Commission Chairman John Quam identifies with. His property insurance was canceled and, despite considerable effort, he could only locate one company that would issue a policy.

“Your story is not unique,” said Galvano, who noted that many sections of the Island are not covered by the state’s low-cost insurance plan of last resort, but, in Sarasota, the coverage area extends from the beaches to Interstate 75. “It’s politically driven,” Galvano said.

In speaking to the choir, Galvano said the Legislature plans another round of “belt-tightening” when it prepares the 2008-09 state budget.

In other city business, commissioners granted a special event permit to Ginny’s and Jane E’s at the old IGA on Gulf Drive for a flea market on Jan. 1, 2008, but were reluctant to grant the business a blanket permit to hold a similar event every month.

Barford said the business had wanted a permit for a flea market each month for the next six months, but she said she wanted to see if January’s event raised any problems before considering further use.

She noted the commission had recently “tightened” the special event process and suggested commissioners revisit the issue in six months to determine if other businesses or groups would seek numerous special event permits for the same type of event.

Commissioners also gave public works director George McKay the go-ahead for a computer program that will keep track of all city maintenance programs, including vehicles, projects, road paving, etc. The program can also be used to help the city prepare its annual budget and should be fully operational in four to five months, McKay said.

After a start-up cost of $1,380, it will cost the city just $40 per month to maintain the program, he added.

Money to pay for the program will come from McKay’s budgeted education fund.

Barford and the commission agreed the plan was “cost attractive,” and would be a great asset for a new public works director, quickly noting that at this time, McKay has no plans to retire.

The mayor also reported that the city has received $70,000 from Roof USA as the negotiated settlement over the botched city hall roof job of two years ago. The bad news is that the city can’t locate the principals for Water Cure Inc., the company that was to pay $5,000 as its share of the agreement.

“They seem to have dropped off the face of the earth,” said city attorney Jim Dye.

The commission agreed to file for the $5,000 in small claims court.