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Date of Issue: July 20, 2006

Mayor to commission: Keep doors open

The Holmes Beach City Commission meeting July 11 was lackluster until commissioners opened fire regarding the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce's offer to facilitate a dialogue between the three Island city governments to provide more efficient municipal services.

Don Schroder, chairman of the chamber, circulated a press release stating the chamber's desire to "assist in moving discussions concerning citizen's requests for more efficient and effective municipal services forward." Schroder further noted he had received approval from each of the Island's three mayors to start a dialog with each commission's chamber liaison member. According to Schroder, the dialogue is intended to determine areas of common ground between the three cities.

This initiative on the chamber's part brought Commissioner David Zaccagnino under the scrutiny of Commission Chairman Rich Bohnenberger. Zaccagnino is the commission's liaison to the chamber, which is how he became a member of the chamber's "Core Team" for what Schroder called the "All Island Strategic Planning Initiative."

"As the liaison, I feel obligated to listen and that it's my duty to report back to the commission," Zaccagnino said.

Bohnenberger disagreed, telling Zaccagnino it was also his duty to tell the chamber that Holmes Beach is simply not interested in participating. "We have the lowest tax rate and we have one of the best public works departments in the area, not just the Island. Anna Maria doesn't have anything to bring to the table," he said.

Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens added that Anna Maria is "not looking to consolidate, they want to cherry-pick services."

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore reminded the commission that she has previously gone on record stating that if someone else "wanted to roll with the idea, Holmes Beach would listen, but not take the lead.

"David is the liaison whether you agree with it or not," Whitmore said. "You shouldn't ever close a door."

Bohnenberger said he would prefer to have a joint work session with the other city commissioners than to participate in the chamber's AISPI. "It seems we're being roped into [participating] despite stating that we're not interested."

"We don't even know what [the other cities] want to do," Zaccagnino replied.

"That's my point," Bohnenberger said.

"That's why you go and listen," continued Zaccagnino. "How else do you know? There is always room for improvement. I hear we have a lot of garbage problems lately."

The mission statement of the AISPI is to find, explore and recommend potential opportunities which will benefit the Island as a whole, said Schroder, and he pointed out that the core team members have agreed that no decisions will be made without first having achieved a consensus.

The other team members are Duke Miller from Anna Maria and Bill Shearon from Bradenton Beach.