A look at governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
Gulf Coast counties cut taxes
FLORIDA — Five Gulf Coast county governments are among the top 10 counties in the state with the biggest reductions in tax rates this year based on proposed millage rates compiled by the Florida Association of Counties.
Lee County tops the statewide list of 67 counties by cutting its property tax rate 24% below the rollback millage rate. The rollback rate is the tax rate necessary to raise the same tax revenue as the prior year. Coming in third statewide is Charlotte County (-18.30%), followed by number six, Hillsborough (-14.42%), Sarasota, seventh (-14.35%), and Pinellas, 10th (-12.41%).
All eight Gulf Coast counties adopted millage rates below their respective rollback rates. The others are Manatee, 19th at -9.64%, Collier, 35th at -3.20% and Pasco, 49th at -0.21%. Six counties adopted millage rates at the rollback rate, and nine counties adopted millage rates above the respective rollback rates. Statewide, counties levied $10 billion in taxes, $729 million less than last fiscal year. Over the last three years, county revenues have slid $1.5 billion, about 13%. For more information go to www.fl-counties.com/proptax/.
Bushes in lecture series
NAPLES — Former President George W. Bush and his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, headline an annual Naples lecture series set for Feb. 16 at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. The event is part of the Naples Premier
Non-Profit Speakers Series. Jim Angle, FOX News Channel's chief Washington correspondent will moderate. For more information call (239) 596-6524 or visit www.naplesdistinguishedspeakers.org.
Attorney seeks council seat
NAPLES — Lake Park resident and attorney Sam J. Saad, III, announced his candidacy for one of three seats on the Naples City Council. The election is Feb. 2. Saad, 32, serves as a member of the Naples Planning Advisory Board and is principal of his law firm, Sam J. Saad, III, P.A. Previously, Saad was an attorney with Advocate Consulting, providing tax advice to aircraft owners.
Prior to moving to Naples, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as special assistant to the solicitor at the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. In 2004, Saad volunteered as a lawyer on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, ultimately becoming a field director in Cleveland, where he led the voter fraud prevention team.
House investigates Sansom
TALLAHASSE — Melanie Hines, a former statewide prosecutor, has agreed to investigate an ethics complaint against ex-House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin, on behalf of the House Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, accepted a unanimous recommendation from the committee, chaired by Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, to appoint Hines as independent counsel.
She specializes in criminal defense and administrative law for the Berger Singerman law firm and teaches part-time at Florida State University's law school.
Cretul created the panel to consider a complaint that Sansom eroded public faith and confidence in the House by steering millions of dollars to Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, which then gave him a job. The complaint also alleges Sansom hosted a college's board of trustees' meeting that violated state open-meetings laws. A Tallahassee circuit judge earlier this month dismissed the main criminal charges against Sansom and two co-defendants
Hillsborough County water resource services will hold a public meeting at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the South Shore Regional Service Center, 410 30th St. S.E. in Ruskin to discuss the planned expansion of its South County Wastewater Treatment Plant there. The $80 million project includes several improvements that will increase the treatment capacity of the plant and provide greater reliability for operations. The plant serves Ruskin, Sun City Center and other areas of south Hillsborough County. Design is nearly complete with construction scheduled to begin in fall 2012. Water resource services staff and design company representatives will be at the meeting to discuss the project and answer questions. For more information, call Steve Valdez, Public Works Department, at (813) 272-5275.
The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) Board meets at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23 at the Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Office, 11201 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa. For more information call (813) 220-0526.
The North Naples Task Force meets at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the North Collier Regional Park conference room A.
The Industrial Development Authority meets at noon Wednesday, Oct. 21 at the SunTrust Bank Building, 18501 Murdock Circle, Suite 502.
The Charlotte Harbor Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee (CH-CRAAC) meeting is at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct 22 at 18500 Murdock Circle, administration center, room 119. For more information about these meetings contact Kathy Knee at (941) 627-3023.
The county commission will hear departments' strategic plan presentations at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20 in the commission chambers, 2120 Main St., Fort Myers.
The county commission will hold a special workshop on Southeast Lee DR/GR (density reduction/groundwater resource area) Studies at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 26 in the commission chambers in the Old Lee County Courthouse, 2120 Main St., Fort Myers.
The Council of Governments meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21 at Pirate City, 1701 27th St. E., Bradenton.
The Central Community Redevelopment Agency meets at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 in the City Centre council chambers, 101 Old Main St.
The land development code stakeholder committee meets Wednesday, Oct. 21 at the Land O'Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O'Lakes Blvd.
The Pinellas Planning Council meets Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. in the 5th floor assembly room, Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court Street, Clearwater. For more information call (727) 464-8250.