St. Petersburg Ballot Questions

Ballot Questions – General Election 2017 – for Pinellas County and St. Petersburg

Countywide Referendum

Ten (10) Year Extension of the Penny for Pinellas One-Cent (1¢) Infrastructure Sales Surtax

Shall the levy of the Penny for Pinellas one-cent (1¢) local infrastructure sales surtax be extended for an additional ten (10) years to finance county and municipal projects, including roads, bridges, flood and sewer spill prevention, water quality, trails, parks, environmental preservation, public safety facilities, hurricane sheltering, vehicles, technology, land acquisition for affordable housing, capital projects supporting economic development (pursuant to section 212.055(2)(d)3, Florida Statutes), and other authorized infrastructure projects.

BALLOT CHOICES ARE

  • YES (Approve continuation/extension of the one-cent sales surtax beyond 2020 through 2030)
  • NO (Oppose continuation/extension of the one-cent sales tax beyond 2020)

Synopsis:  The “Penny for Pinellas” is a one percent sales tax charged on all non-real estate purchases in Pinellas County up to $5,000.00.  The tax is not charged on the purchase of food or medicine.  The proceeds of the Penny for Pinellas one percent tax surcharge are used solely to fund long-term capital infrastructure projects within Pinellas County.  Pinellas County estimates that seventy percent (70%) of the cost of these projects is funded by the “Penny for Pinellas” tax.  The balance of the cost of these projects is funded by real estate taxes.

The tax has been in effect since 1990 and runs for a ten year term.  The term can be extended for an additional ten year period by popular vote.  The tax was extended by popular vote for the time periods of 2000 to 2010 and 2010 to 2020.  The current vote will decide whether or not the tax shall be extended for an additional ten year period running from 2020 through 2030.

The one percent Penny for Pinellas sales surtax provides a source of funding for long-term capital infrastructure projects via a sales tax rather than funding these projects by increasing real estate taxes.

Pinellas County estimates that one-third (1/3) of sales tax monies are paid by tourists and visitors to Pinellas County.

Additional information regarding current and past Penny for Pinellas projects can be found at the following website: http://www.pinellascounty.org/penny/projects.htm

Passage of this referendum would:

Failure to pass this referendum would:

  • Result in the sun-downing of the Penny for Pinellas One-Cent Infrastructure Sales Surtax law, effective December 31, 2019, resulting in cuts to approximately 70% of the funding for current capital expenditure projects county-wide.
  • Place more of the burden for funding essential infrastructure projects on Pinellas County property owners through increased real-estate taxes.
  • Eliminate the source of a projected two (2) billion dollars over the next ten (10) years, divided between Pinellas County and municipal coffers, for funding of current and future long-term capital improvement and infrastructure projects such as the new St. Petersburg Police Station, major road improvements and sewer system upgrades.
  • Reduce the amount of sales tax on Non-real-estate purchases under $5000, from seven (7) cents on the dollar, to six (6) cents on every dollar spent, excluding food and medicine which are not subject to the Penny for Pinellas sales surtax.

Supporters:  Pinellas County Administrator and Commissioners; Mayor, Rick Kriseman; former Mayor, Rick Baker; and most (if not all) of the 24 Pinellas County municipalities that share the revenue raised by this sales surtax; as well as the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce and Tampa Bay Times are among supporters of the Penny for Pinellas County referendum, as is. Advocates believe Penny for Pinellas funds are critical to maintaining quality of life and lower property taxes.  They base their support on the tangible benefits to Pinellas County residents via the hundreds of capital improvement and infrastructure projects funded by Penny for Pinellas. These include: the Pinellas County Public Safety Complex (built to withstand a cat. 5 hurricane); the Pinellas Trail; 2000 acres of new parks and preserves; park improvements (ex. Ft. DeSoto); 1000 miles of resurfaced roads and the Bayside Bridge, to name a few.

Opponents:  The League could find no significant organizational opposition to the Penny for Pinellas referendum.  However, some individuals publicly oppose this sales surtax on principle (lower taxes).  While other opponents state concerns that the ballot language is too broad or vague – not focused exclusively on the most critically needed infrastructure projects – such as fixing the county’s aged sewer systems and sewage processing plants.  Critics believe that the referendum language, as is, will result in a lack of spending accountability and pet project expenditures by county and local governments.

CITY OF SAINT PETERSBURG BALLOT QUESTIONS

#1 (of 3) Charter Amendment: Modifying Prohibition on Council Members Expressing Opinions Concerning Certain Decisions on Employment and Board Membership

The City Charter currently prohibits Council Members from directing or requesting the appointment or removal of City employees except senior management employees. Shall the Charter be amended in accordance with ordinance 288‑H to allow Council Members to express opinions concerning creation of new positions classified as management or professional non-management, changes to membership on boards or commissions of the City, and appointment or removal of City Council Office staff?

  • Yes (Approve incorporation of this amendment to the City of St. Petersburg’s Charter)
  • No (Oppose incorporation of this amendment to the City of St. Petersburg’s Charter)

Synopsis:

Pursuant to Section 4.05 of the City of St. Petersburg’s Charter, as it currently states, no Council members and/or Council committees may request the appointment or removal of a person from the Office of the Mayor or any of the Mayor’s subordinates in any manner.  Thus, the Mayor has sole authority to hire and discharge administrative employees of the City as well as officers, employees or member of boards in the administrative service of the City.  Violation of this provision by a member of the Council is grounds for removal from office.  However, Council Members are allowed to express their personal opinion concerning the hiring by the Mayor of any chiefs and administrator or higher management level employees.

The initiative to amend this portion of the City Charter developed because City Council members would like to have input regarding decisions on personnel whose work centers around assisting and advising the Council.  This amendment is particularly important to Council relative to employment of legislative aides who work closely with, and report directly to members.  Ordinance 288-H specifies the proposed language of this charter amendment.

Click on the link below to view additional context and Charter Amendment Ordinance 288-H: http://www.stpete.org/agenda%20packets/2017-08-10%20Council%20Agenda.pdf

Passage of this Charter Amendment would modify the current charter language permitting council members to express their opinions about:

  • the creation of new positions classified as management or professional non-management.
  • changes to membership on boards or commissions of the City.
  • the appointment or removal of City Council Office staff.

Failure to pass this Charter amendment would maintain current charter language:

  • continuing the Mayor’s exclusive decision making authority to hire and discharge all administrative employees of the City as well as officers, employees or member of boards in the administrative service of the City.
  • barring Council members from expressing their opinions regarding the appointment or firing of all staff employees in the Office of the Mayor, including those who work for and report directly to council, with the exception of senior management level employees.

#2 (of 3) Referendum No. 1: Authorizing agreement not exceeding 20 years for management of baseball complex at Walter Fuller Park

May City Council approve an agreement regarding the management and operation of the portion of Walter Fuller Park currently known as the Walter Fuller Baseball Complex under conditions set forth in ordinance 289-H?  These conditions include: term not exceeding 20 years; continued use for primary purposes of baseball, other sports, and related activities; no change to current boundary; limits on additional structures; and manager commits to fund minimum of $300,000 in upgrades and improvements.

Yes (Approve the City extending Walter Fuller Baseball Maintenance contract for up to 20 years)
No (Oppose extension of the City’s maintenance contract beyond the current three (3) year limitation, per current ordinance provision)

Synopsis:  This referendum addresses whether the current three year limitation of maintenance contracts for the maintenance and any needed upgrades to the Walter Fuller Baseball Complex (“Baseball Complex”) should be extended for a period up to, but not exceeding, 20 years.

The Baseball Complex has been in existence since 1968.  Since 2009, the City has contracted with the St. Petersburg Baseball Commission (“Commission”) to maintain and perform upgrades to the Baseball Complex.  The City has determined that the monies it pays to the Commission to subsidize costs are substantially less than if the city were directly responsible for performing these functions.

The applicable ordinance currently provides that the City cannot enter into an agreement with the Commission for a period of more than three years without a City-wide referendum.  The City has determined that the Baseball Complex is in need of upgrades and improvements to maintain its competitiveness as a baseball venue and to ensure public safety.

The Commission’s proposal, to perform these upgrades and improvements, states that some of the costs of this project can be amortized, or extended, over a period of ten or more years. This extension would allow the Commission to ensure that it can recoup their costs for extensive maintenance.  The Commission has asked that the City Council approve a new agreement with the Commission or another party to manage and operate the Baseball Complex for a term not to exceed 20 years.  The agreement would have to provide that the Baseball Complex continue to be used for its existing purposes; that its boundaries and limits on additional structures would remain as is; and, that the manager of the Complex would have to commit to pay a minimum of $300,000 towards funding of the upgrades and improvements.

Ordinance 289-H provides a detailed history of the established purposes and maintenance of the Baseball Complex and can be found at the following link.  http://www.stpete.org/agenda%20packets/2017-08-10%20Council%20Agenda.pdf

Passage of this referendum would:

  • allow the time needed for the Commission to cost effectively maintain and upgrade the Baseball Complex to competitive standards by defraying costs amortized over 10 or more years.
  • ensure the continued cost saving benefits to the city by retaining the Commission to manage the Baseball Complex for the City.
  • provide for a modernized Baseball Complex with upgraded facilities adding value to the surrounding community and an enhanced user experience.
  • improve public safety on the premises, reducing the city’s risk exposure.
  • save the city the cost of adding a referendum to the ballot at intervals exceeding three years and less than 20 years in order to enter into an extended maintenance contract duration with the commission.

Failure to pass this referendum would:

  • result in increased differed maintenance because it would not be cost effective for the Commission to commit to the expense of needed upgrades when limited to a three year contract.
  • potentially trigger the Commission’s withdrawal from future management of the Baseball Complex which would require the city to find a new management entity or take on the management task, consequently increasing costs for the city.
  • decrease the value to the surrounding community and users.
  • diminish public safety, creating higher risk and liability for the city.

#3 (of 3) Referendum No. 2: Partially releasing restrictive covenant on former City property now part of The Vinoy Renaissance Resort

After referendum approval in 1984, the Vinoy Park Hotel Company conveyed the City a waterfront park parcel in exchange for the Baywood Park and Edgewater interior parcels, subject to certain restrictions. Shall the City now partially release those restrictions for approximately 2.3 acres of that property to permit The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort to construct a one-story parking garage with elevated tennis courts, subject to conditions set forth in ordinance 290-H?

Yes (Approve the City’s partial release of land use restrictions currently imposed on the Vinoy Park Hotel Company)

No (Oppose the City’s partial release of land use restrictions currently imposed on the Vinoy Park Hotel Company)

Synopsis:  On June 7, 1984, the City entered into an agreement whereby it conveyed to the Vinoy Renaissance Resort (“Vinoy”) two parcels of City-owned land immediately north of the Vinoy in exchange for the Vinoy’s conveyance of a waterfront parcel east of the Vinoy that the City had been leasing for use as part of Vinoy Park. This exchange of property was subject to certain restrictive covenants. The agreement was approved by the electorate on November 6, 1984 via majority vote.

The agreement placed restrictions on the Vinoy’s construction of facilities (the “Facilities Covenant”), providing that a portion of the land that the City conveyed to Vinoy be restricted to recreation open space usage for the use as tennis courts and related facilities until December 31, 2082.

On March 25, 1997 and March 13, 2007 the voters approved partial releases of the Facilities Covenant to allow construction of a conference center, new health club facility and future hotel and hotel accessory uses in the same area covered by the first partial release.  There are now 2.3 acres subject to the original terms of the Facilities Covenant.

Vinoy has requested a partial release of the Facilities Covenant so that it may construct a one-story parking garage on this parcel with elevated tennis courts.  The garage would be contained within the 2.3 acres upon which tennis courts are currently situated and its construction would not change the footprint of the Vinoy structures.

In the event that the partial release of the Facilities Covenant is approved by popular vote, Vinoy has agreed in writing to adhere to construction conditions set forth at length in Ordinance 290-H.

Ordinance 290-H which sets forth the history of the City’s transactions with the Vinoy, the two partial releases previously approved by the electorate and the terms of the partial release which is now up for vote can be found at:  http://www.stpete.org/agenda%20packets/2017-08-10%20Council%20Agenda.pdf

Passage of this referendum would:

  • help alleviate parking issues at the Vinoy and in the adjacent neighborhood.
  • provide for construction on privately held land without the use of municipal or taxpayer funds.
  • allow this one story parking structure to be situated in an area where it will not obstruct views of the Bay

Failure to pass this referendum would:

  • eliminate a remedy to address the increasing demand for parking within an area already stressed due to limited parking options.
  • spare nearby residents and visitors of the temporary issues inherent to larger scale construction projects such as increased noise, dust and periodic limited access to adjacent roads and sidewalks.

Supporters:  Mayor Rick Kriseman; City Council; mayoral candidate Rick Baker; community and business groups including: St. Petersburg Preservation, Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the St. Petersburg Downtown Neighborhood Association and the board of directors of the St. Petersburg Downtown Business Association.

Opponents:  The League could find no publicly vocal opponents to this referendum

View a sample ballot listing all referendums and the proposed charter amendment here:
https://www.votepinellas.com/Portals/Pinellas/Documents/files/Elections/2017/November/388-20.pdf