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Bradenton Beach approves tax increase, considers library future

The fiscal year 2018-19 budget for Bradenton Beach is almost completed.

Commissioners and staff met July 10 in a work session to wrap up the proposed budget and approve the maximum millage rate for the DR-420, the form used by the state to assess the city’s tax base.

Mayor John Chappie, as executive head of the city, proposed the same rate as the current year, 2.3329, and the commission unanimously voted July 10 to retain the rate — which amounts to a tax increase for property owners.

Millage is $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value. At 2.3329 mills, the ad valorem tax on a property valued at $600,000 will be $1,398.

To avoid raising property taxes, the city would need to adopt the 2.14 rollback rate. The rollback rate is the millage needed to produce the same revenue as the current budget year.

State law defines a tax increase as any rate higher than the rollback rate.

In other matters, the commission discussed the budget for the Tingley Memorial Library, which is owned by the city and funded through a private bequeath.

The proposed library expenditures for 2018-19 are $39,304 and come from the bequeath, which will eventually be depleted, according to city treasurer Shayne Thompson.

In July 2017, city attorney Ricinda Perry suggested the commission meet with the library board after Perry said she found no city records of the trust that established the library. “Legal documents are nonexistent,” she said.

At the July 10 budget meeting, Commissioner Jake Spooner said he is unclear on how the library fund operates and how much money is in the library account.

Thompson said the bequeath should sustain the library expenditures for about 10 more years.

The city is considering making changes to the use of the city infrastructure — structural improvements or new buildings — and the library, built in 1994, would be included in those plans.

Bradenton Beach Lt. John Cosby, who attended the meeting for BBPD Chief Sam Speciale, said the bequeath specifies the city must provide a library, which could be a room in city hall.

“Our requirement is that we provide some type of library in order to have that property,” Cosby said. “As long as we have something that is a library, we should be OK.”

Building official Steve Gilbert said the city can’t plan for the next five-10 years until it knows how to address any structural issues.

“We need to get a better understanding of the way the library board and the city need to work together, because the way it’s written is very difficult,” Chappie said.

Cosby suggested a workshop with Perry to discuss the bequeath.

Chappie, who is the commission liaison to the library board, said he has been trying to set the “long overdue” meeting, and should be able to meet with board members in the fall.

The budget is assimilated into an ordinance that will require two public hearings and two votes for adoption.

The first public hearing for the 2018-19 budget will be at 5:25 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Beulah Rebecca Hooks Hannah Tingley (August 24, 1893 – April 7, 1986)[1][2] was born in Clermont, Florida. She was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Hooks, who served in the Florida Legislature Clermont, from 1893 to 1895. Tingley was a member of the Democratic National Committee and Chair of the Democratic Party of Florida. She championed women’s causes throughout her life. She seconded the nomination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the 1944

Democratic National Convention, becoming the first woman to address a Democratic National Convention. She was an activist and it was said, “She had a loud clear voice and wore broad brimmed hats that created a presence on the campaign trail.” She was a confidant of the late Claude Pepper.

A resident of Bradenton Beach in her later life, after becoming a member of the Bradenton Beach Library Board and noting the lack of space for a public library, she bequeathed more than $600,000 for the construction and operation of a permanent library in Bradenton Beach.

She was an avid reader, citing a need for “a quiet place where books could be enjoyed.” The library serves residents and visitors with the aid of volunteers and without tax dollars.

Beulah Tingley’s Great Floridian plaque is located above the front door of the Tingley Memorial Library.

Holmes Beach says ‘wait a minute’ on noise suit

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A drone view shows Richard and Marjorie Motzer’s home — in the foreground with the orange roof — and neighboring homes in the 300 block of 56th Street, Holmes Beach, where the Motzers claim the city has been lax in enforcing its noise ordinance. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

Not so fast.

An attorney representing the city of Holmes Beach filed a July 3 motion to quash — void or declare invalid — a complaint filed in 12th Circuit Court by attorneys for residents Richard and Marjorie Motzer.

Responding to the Motzers’ complaint, attorney Jim Dye filed a special appearance challenging the way they brought the case forward.

The Motzers filed the suit in June through attor- neys Anthony Manganiello III and Nicole Price of the Icard, Merrill law firm in Sarasota.

The complaint contends Holmes Beach and its police department failed to hold vacationers account- able to the noise ordinance and asks the court to compel the city to do its job and enforce its ordinance.

Dye, of Dye Harrison, a Bradenton law firm, said July 11 the Motzers’ attorneys didn’t file its court papers correctly, citing a civil rule that requires a go-ahead by a judge before filing such a case.

The court may directly rule on Dye’s quash motion or require the Motzers to respond, according to Dye.

“The plaintiffs obtained process and proceeded to have it served on the mayor before the court deter- mined the complaint” stated a proper case, Dye said in the city’s motion.

Manganiello and Price, who filed the Motzers’ complaint, did not respond to July 10 calls for com- ment.

According to the Motzers’ complaint, the couple built their home in the 300 block of 56th Street in 2010 before vacation homes went up that are owned by Jennifer and Shawn Kaleta at 302 55th St. and 5501 Holmes Blvd.

Another suit, in which the Kaletas allege the Motzers “stalked renters” at their properties, was filed in the 12th Circuit in April.

In that suit, a hearing is set before Judge Lon

Crowd alerts BBPD to drug deal

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Matthew Mottl, 35
Charles Fowler, 23

People lined up on benches in front of a convenience store led Bradenton Beach police to arrest two men for drugs.

Matthew Mottl, 35, listed as homeless, and Charles Fowler, 23, who lives on a boat in the bayfront anchorage near the city pier in Bradenton Beach, were arrested at 11:50 p.m. July 7 outside Circle K, 103 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach.

BBPD Officer Tom McGill reported he observed several people “lined up on the benches out front” and making noises “almost to alert someone” while he walked into the store.

Mottl was counting money as Fowler backed away with a bag. Police then observed Mottl “try to shove” a large bag of what appeared to be marijuana into another bag, according to the report.

The officer detained both men.

After a police search, Mottl was arrested for possessing a controlled substance with the intent to sell, possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana and paraphernalia.

In Mottl’s bag, BBPD found 47 grams of marijuana, THC wax, a scale and tools. They also found a vial of 24 pills without a prescription, which included alprazolam, klonopin and subetex, in Mottl’s pocket.

Fowler was released after BBPD issued him a notice to appear in court for possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana.

A witness to Mottl’s arrest, Fowler wrote a statement, now in the court record.

“Some guy asked me if I knew where to get some weed. I said no, but then I noticed Matt at the K and asked if he had any weed. He said yes and gave me 1.5 G’s for $10. I did not get a chance to give him money because the cop came up behind us and told us to put our hands on the wall.”

Mottl signed a statement indicating the pills were for his personal use, the police report states.

He was transported to the Manatee County jail, where he was in custody at press time.

He was assigned a $9,500 bond.

His arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Fowler’s court record for the marijuana possession was not available at press time.

KORN sues to force ballot action from Bradenton Beach

The writ is on the wall.

A Bradenton Beach political action committee is rising to the challenge.

Reed Mapes and John Metz, co-founders of Keep Our Residential Neighborhoods, filed a writ of mandamus in the 12th Circuit Court July 5 to gain an expedited hearing and compel Bradenton Beach to put KORN’s proposed charter amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The city was served court documents July 11.

The complaint names Mapes and KORN as plaintiffs and city clerk Terri Sanclemente and the city of Bradenton Beach as defendants.

At a June 21 meeting, the mayor and commissioners voted against placing KORN’s charter amendments on the ballot, citing concerns the amendments violate the city charter. The claim is based on what the city says are insufficiencies with required petitions that were signed by electors.

Mapes and Metz, former planning and zoning board members, registered KORN as a PAC and collected signatures from more than 10 percent of Bradenton Beach electors in support of the ballot questions. They say they followed State Statute 166.031, which provides for citizen-initiated charter amendments and, according to them, supplants the city charter.

City attorney Ricinda Perry said the petitions violate a state law that prohibits land-use matters from being decided by referendum.

Additionally, Perry said all of KORN’s proposed amendments exceed a 15-word word limit.

The lawsuit alleges Sanclemente and the city refused to perform their ministerial duties and deliver the signed petitions to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office.

KORN asks the court to require the city to submit its petitions to the SOE for verification and direct the city to include the proposed charter questions on the ballot for the next general election or a special election.

According to Perry, ballot language must be filed with the SOE by Aug. 28.

As of July 11, a hearing date had not been set. However, an order of recusal was filed July 9 by Judge Gilbert A. Smith Jr. and the case was reassigned to Judge Lon Arend, who is hearing another civil case in which the city is the plaintiff and Mapes and Metz are two of six defendants.

Holmes Beach proposes $15M budget, $2M spending increase

Times are good in Holmes Beach, as evidenced by a proposed new $15.45 million budget.

The proposed budget reflects an increase of more than $2 million in spending. The 15.1 percent boost nearly doubles the spending increase approved for the current fiscal year.

The commission adopted a Hurricane Irma-delayed $13,423,653 budget for fiscal year 2017-18, an increase of $1.069 million, or 8.7 percent, from $12.354 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year budget.

At the July 10-11 commission budget workshops, treasurer Lori Hill detailed where $2,028,156 in revenue could come from and where it might be spent.

Three new staffers could be hired under terms proposed in the $15,450,809 budget being considered by the Holmes Beach City Commission. The budget — in the form of an ordinance — will have two public hearings and two votes before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

If approved, Police Chief William Tokajer will have $100,000 for a license-plate recognition system and building official Jim McGuinness will have $8,000 to purchase two drones to enhance inspections.

“Drone inspection technology is here,” McGuinness said.

The new gear and employees will be paid for by projected revenue increases.

Property tax revenues are projected to top $4 million, an increase of $309,512 or 7.8 percent, from $3,946,331 to $4,255,843.

The city proposes spending $400,000 on amenities at city field with a relocated and enlarged dog park, new concrete skatepark, new bocce ball and pickleball courts, shade structures, expanded off-street parking and Birdie Tebbetts baseball field would become a large multi-use field.

Earlier this year, auditors warned factors could cut into city revenues, such as legislative proposals involving business tax fees and vacation home and communication service taxes.

Holmes Beach already is feeling the pinch of rising insurance costs as it litigates $25 million in Bert Harris claims, Hill reported.

Holmes Beach projects insurance costs of $309,500 compared with $293,500 for the current fiscal year. Employee life/health insurance expenses will go from $12,090 to $38,135 in the proposed budget.

Holmes Beach also seeded a Bert Harris contingency fund with $500,000 from rollover revenues in the proposed budget, in addition to two $1 million insurance policies maintained with the Florida League of Cities, according to Hill.
“Insurance costs really went through the roof this year,” noted Commissioner Carol Soustek.

The Hurricane Irma cleanup in 2017 was an unbudgeted expense, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to fully reimburse the city at a time as yet undetermined.

Commissioner Jim Kihm repeated his complaint that spending totals are not sufficiently detailed. Hill said she would break out more information per his requests.

The proposed 2.25 millage rate amounts to a tax increase, thanks to rising property values.

The rollback rate, the millage needed to keep taxes for homeowners, as well as city revenue and spending the same as the current year, is 2.1062.

The millage rate is the amount per $1,000 in property value used to calculate taxes.

The city commission will next meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

 

Holmes Beach budgets at a glance
Budget: $13,423,653 (2017-18) – $15,450,809 (2018-19)
Reserves: $6,021,479 (2017-18) – $7,062,232 (2018-19)
The fiscal year is Oct. 1-Sept. 30.
Source: Holmes Beach treasurer Lori Hill

Holmes Beach candidate survives campaign complaint

Political newcomer Kim Rash can continue to campaign for office in Holmes Beach.

City clerk Stacey Johnston, as the Holmes Beach election official, ruled an error in campaign depository paperwork by the city commission candidate did not rise to the level of disqualification.

Rash said it was the right call.

“There was never any intent of wrongdoing or fraudulent activity,” Rash said. “It would be a shame to allow the democratic process to be overshadowed by this innocent error. I feel that I made every effort to do things correctly.”

Johnston said she made her decision July 9 after consulting with the Florida Department of State Division of Elections and on legal advice from city attorney Patricia Petruff.

David Zaccagnino, a candidate for the charter review commission on the same ballot as Rash and a former city commissioner, asked Johnston to disqualify Rash.

“Because of this extreme error in violation of state statute, I am asking that his campaign be terminated,” Zaccagnino wrote in a July 6 email to Johnston.

Reached July 12 by phone, Zaccagnino would not say whether the ruling concluded the issue to his satisfaction.

“I don’t have any comment right now on that,” he said.

Candidates are first required to declare a depository for campaign funds, Johnston said. They must pay the initial filing fee and submit all required candidate forms with a check from the declared depository.

Rash named Hancock Bank his depository June 4, but the check written for his candidate filing fee was drawn on Wells Fargo.

He questioned why candidates are required to name a bank to receive campaign funds before any money can be deposited.

“This seems to be an odd sequence to have to designate a bank before the account is actually opened,” Rash wrote in an email to city hall.

However, the election laws are set by state statute, not by the city.

Johnston said Rash told her he changed his campaign depository bank after he encountered difficulty establishing his account at Hancock Bank, but failed to submit the paperwork to make the switch to Wells Fargo official.

“It’s fixed now,” Johnston said.

Johnston ruled the error was not intended to circumvent the law or gain unfair advantage.

The Holmes Beach ballot listing Rash has yet to be certified by the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.

Holmes Beach elections are nonpartisan and there is no primary. Early qualifying allowed the SOE to set ballots for the August primary and general election in November at the same time, Johnston said.

 

County’s election website mistakenly posts candidate SSNs

The Social Security numbers of Holmes Beach political candidates Kim Rash and Joshua Linney were mistakenly posted on votemanatee.com, the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website.

Rash is running for a seat on the city commission and Linney is running for mayor in the Nov. 6 municipal election.

“This was an egregious mistake that violated Florida state law,” Rash wrote in an email sent to the city.

The information was removed from the website after a July 9 phone call to the SOE from Rash. He said the numbers received at least 56 views.

“We don’t know how many candidates’ Social Security numbers were compromised,” Rash wrote. “This has caused my wife and I emotional distress, as well as time and money.”

Rash said he was advised to purchase Life Lock credit protection and freeze all credit accounts.

“We will wait to see how this will affect our personal finances,” Rash wrote.

July 30 deadline to register for primary

Voter registration will close July 30 for the state’s primary, which will be Tuesday, Aug. 28.

The primary in Florida includes federal and state races, as well as some local contests.

Registration for the general election will close Oct. 9.

For more information, go online to votemanatee.com or call the elections office at 941-741-3823.

Call to candidates
Send notices of events and other news releases during the course of your campaign to news@islander.org.

Beach benches frustrate turtle watchers

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Kathy Noonan, AMITW volunteer, marks a bench with tape July 5 after a loggerhead collided there while nesting. Islander Photo: Courtesy AMITW

Turtles bumping into beach benches were already on the radar for folks who monitor sea turtle nesting on Anna Maria Island.

So when a female turtle nested overnight July 4 under a bench near 66th Street in Holmes Beach, what followed only added fuel to the smoldering fire between the city and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch.

Suzi Fox, AMITW executive director, said observers watched a turtle “collide and struggle” while nesting under one of the 50 or so memorial benches situated on the sand on the Holmes Beach shoreline.

This was not the first time a sea turtle has encountered a bench this year, Fox said, noting at least two other nests found under benches.

AMITW volunteers roped off the nest the morning of July 5, marking it with stakes and orange tape.

After hearing about the issue from the media, Holmes Beach public works employees removed the bench and replaced the nest markers.

That, Fox says, is a violation of a federal law that protects sea turtle nests.

“A question that has not been asked or answered is, why do they feel they have to move the benches with nests at all this year? They have never moved them in the past,” Fox said.

“The two other benches were moved also, but just 3 feet away. When a sea turtle bumps and collides and then nests, all the visual signs we are trained to look for are gone. Then, when the bench is moved, there’s no way to tell if a nest is damaged by all the moving,” Fox said.

The city maintains when it moved the bench, there was no sign indicating it was a nest.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement spokesman Rob Klepper told the Islander July 16 “There are no charges, charges are not being planned and there is no ongoing investigation into the matter.”

It is a third-degree felony to take, disturb, sell, harass, mutilate or destroy any sea turtle, hatchling egg or nest, without a marine turtle permit.

Fox remains upset, alleging Holmes Beach is in violation of its own ordinance, which requires beach furniture be removed overnight. The benches have become popular memorials to loved ones in Holmes Beach on the shoreline.

They often are placed near public beach accesses, providing people a resting place at an entry to the beach.

Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson said better communication between municipalities and special interest groups is necessary.

“We’re checking with other municipalities in the state to see how they’re handling this issue,” HBPD code enforcement officer JT Thomas said July 15.

“We’re looking into better ways to work with the FWC, DEP, visitors, turtle volunteers and the stakeholders who live full time on this island.”

The memorial benches mostly come from the island residents, Thomas added.

On Anna Maria Island, sharing the beach is a necessity, with 430 sea turtle nests as of July 15.

Nesting and hatching takes place May 1-Oct. 31.

MCSO rearrests Holmes Beach man for Anna Maria burglary

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Mark Lee Snyder, 55

Mark Lee Snyder — the 55-year-old man arrested for attacking a Holmes Beach woman and burglarizing her home — was rearrested July 9 for another burglary.

Leading to his rearrest, investigators found stolen items — including a handgun taken in a May 15 burglary in the 100 block of Crescent Drive in Anna Maria — in Snyder’s storage locker in the 8400 block of Cortez Road West.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Snyder, who had bonded out of jail after his first arrest, at his Holmes Beach residence, north of Anna Maria Elementary School.

He was in the Manatee County jail, assigned a $20,000 bond, at press time.

Eagle eye – First week winner of The Islander’s 2018 Top Notch photo contest

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Holly Avedisian of Bradenton wins the first week of The Islander’s 2018 Top Notch photo contest with this image of a bald eagle taking flight. The photo was taken June 26 in Robinson Preserve in west Bradenton. “This bald eagle is occasionally seen perched in one of the palms or catching fish in one of the ponds. …I watched him catch (a fish) and bring it up to the path, where he ate seemingly unconcerned that I was taking photos,” Avedisian wrote in her entry. This winning photograph won the shooter an Islander “More than a mullet wrapper” T-shirt and is a finalist in the contest, which offers a grand prize of $100 from The Islander and an assortment of gift certificates from advertisers.

HOW TO ENTER TOP NOTCH… CLICK HERE