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Date of Issue: May 04, 2006

Commission turns 'good neighbor' for community center

Not wishing to saddle the not-for-profit Anna Maria Island Community Center with nearly $60,000 in permit fees for its upcoming expansion, the Anna Maria City Commission followed Teddy Roosevelt’s lead and turned into a "good neighbor" at their April 27 meeting.

The commission voted to amend its permit fee schedule so that the maximum fee charge for a building permit is $20,000 and the maximum fee for rezoning or a small-scale comprehensive-plan amendment is $2,000, thus saving the Center about $36,000.

Mayor SueLynn, who brought the issue to the commission, said she didn’t think the city wanted to "profit" from a non-profit organization, and commissioners agreed.

Because the fee schedule is adopted by resolution, Commission Chairman John Quam said the commission can change the schedule back at its May 25 meeting and Commissioners Linda Cramer and Dale Woodland agreed to have a vote on returning the fee schedule to its prior amounts at that meeting. Commissioners Duke Miller and Chris Tollette were unable to attend the April 27 meeting.

With two commissioners absent, the remaining three commissioners made short work of the night’s agenda, particularly after attorney Scott Rudacille requested a continuance of the public hearing for his clients’ request for a proposed lot split at 204 Archer Way.

The commission quickly granted that motion, along with a request from Sandbar restaurant owner Ed Chiles for a continuance of his preliminary site plan approval until the proper notices for the public hearing have been mailed and the hearing advertised.

Commissioners granted Chiles an extension until May 26. Chiles said he hopes to have the final site plan ready for the May 25 meeting.

The commission also quickly approved a budget amendment to include revenue from the upcoming line of credit that will fund the city’s road and drainage improvement projects.

The first reading of an ordinance creating an official procedure for any city contracts was also quickly approved.

Quam noted that the garbage, recycling and waste hauling contract with Waste Management Inc. is due to expire March 31, 2007, and wondered if the commission was interested in putting the contract out for bid.

But after hearing from the mayor that WMI was the only local trash hauling service, commissioners agreed it was highly unlikely any company based in Tampa or St. Petersburg would even be interested in bidding on such a small contract.

"There’s a good chance no one besides WMI would bid," she said.

In addition, the mayor noted that, according to Baskerville-Donovan Inc., the city’s engineering firm, the cost of preparing the bid package would be close to $10,000.

SueLynn did say she would ask Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie about the cost and feasibility of having that city collect waste and trash in Anna Maria, but she did not believe that city would respond favorably.

In her report to the commissioners, the mayor said she had "no good news to report tonight."

She noted that at a recent conference on hurricane preparedness, state officials were advising cities and residents that in the event of a hurricane, they should be ready to operate and survive for at least seven days without any outside assistance.

SueLynn also observed that at the recent Coalition of Barrier Island Officials meeting, a health expert from Manatee County advised that when the Asian Bird Flu epidemic strikes the United States, cities and residents should be prepared to survive four to six weeks without county, state or federal aid.

With that bad news in mind, the mayor also reported that getting companies to bid on government contracts is difficult. Officials from Manatee County, with its multi-million-dollar road and capital improvement projects, have said many companies have declined to even bid on those projects because they don’t have the staff needed to do the bid preparations.

Further, construction costs are rising daily, she said, and that’s also a problem for a small city with small contracts, she said.

The mayor also confirmed that the city hall roof project will again be put out to bid this week and she anticipates that at least three companies will submit bids by the 2 p.m. May 15 deadline. Only one company bid on the prior packet, and its total was nearly $80,000 higher than the $60,000 budgeted.