Home / Government / Safety Harbor City Commission to set tax rate on Tuesday

Safety Harbor City Commission to set tax rate on Tuesday


The Safety Harbor City Commission is expected to vote to keep the city’s comparably-low tax millage rate the same when it meets on Sept. 3, a special Tuesday meeting in observance of Labor Day.

Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Here is the link to the agenda, with additional material, known as “backup,” available via the hyperlink on each item: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=1676


At its summer budget workshops, Commission indicated its desire to keep the city’s millage rate the same as it has been the past most recent years at 3.95 percent, which is one of the lowest in Pinellas County. As property values in Safety Harbor increased by 5.7 percent over last year, the tax dollars available to the city have increased by $256,430 even without an increase in the millage rate. The city’s budget for 2020 will be $68,429,850, with $23,760,600 available in the city’s general fund. It accounts for increases in health insurance and law enforcement costs, as well as a 4 percent merit raise for employees.

Commission will be asked to approve two resolutions – one setting the millage rate at 3.95 percent and the other setting the city’s budget of $68,429,850.


Ordinances or changes to city code require two hearings before the City Commission. 

Requirements for residential poles with recording devices: Commission voted 5-0 on first reading for new regulations on cameras and other recording devices on private property that may infringe on the privacy of neighbors. Such devices may not be installed any higher than the roof line of a property’s main structure. 

Setting 2020 election date: Commission voted 5-0 on first reading to set the next election date as March 17, consistent with other Pinellas County elections and the presidential preference primary. Two seats – Mayor, held by Joe Ayoub, and Commission Seat 4, held by Carlos Diaz, will be on the ballot. 


Exemptions for downtown building heights: As part of the ongoing process to lower maximum building heights in the city’s most intense portion of downtown to 35 feet from 45 feet, Commission had indicated that it was open to certain exemptions to the 35-foot maximum. This ordinance would amend the Land Development Code to allow owners whose buildings suffer damage out of their control to rebuild to the height prior to the damage, and to allow builders to build to 40 feet high if at least four design incentives are included in their site plan or they negotiate a development agreement with Commission. The city’s Planning & Zoning Board voted 6-1 in favor of the changes, with recommendations that two design incentives be combined and an additional one be added – protecting a protected tree with a rating of 2.5 or higher.   

Downtown Partnership Grant request: The owners of Cafe Vino Tinto coffee house are requesting $30,000 in city grants to assist with their $140,000 renovation of their new location at 509 Main St., much of it to bring the 100-year-old long-vacant building up to code. When complete, the business owners say they will add new ADA-compliant restrooms, a new kitchen, indoor seating for up to 30 patrons and outdoor seating for up to 40 patrons, covered by a new roof and umbrellas.  

Code amendments concerning breweries and hotels: Commission will consider two proposed changes to city code concerning breweries, one of which also includes changes concerning hotels. One would add breweries to the list of businesses that are required to install backflow prevention device to prevent the contamination of the city’s water supply. The other addresses the use and parking requirements for “nanobreweries,” which brew for on-site consumption only, and adds a wastewater plan and outside storage requirements for all breweries. It also expands the area in the city where bed & breakfasts can be located and clarifies the definition of where a hotel can be located.

Fire Department plaque presentation: T. Austin Simmons will be presented with a plaque honoring him for his restoration of a 1978 Pierce fire truck that the city uses for special events and public education.

Consent agenda: Items expected to have little debate, such as approval of the last meeting’s minutes and most contracts, are included en masse in the consent agenda, though any Commissioner can ask for any item to be considered separately. This meeting’s consent agenda includes approval for buying two Public Works vehicles. 


Attend the meeting: The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 750 Main St. Meetings typically run from 1.5 to three hours. Residents are given the opportunity to speak on all agenda items, except for presentations and consent agenda items. Come forward when asked by the mayor, state your name and address, and you’ll be given three minutes to address the Commission. For any issues not on the agenda, or any item that is on the consent agenda, residents get three minutes to speak at the beginning of the meeting during “Audience to be Heard.”  

Watch from home: Meetings are live-streamed to the city’s website at http://cityofsafetyharbor.com/557/Streaming-Media. The following day, a video of the meeting is posted for residents to watch.

Contact your Commissioners in advance by leaving them a message at City Hall at (727) 724-1555 or emailing them:

Mayor Joe Ayoub – jayoub@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Vice Mayor Cliff Merz – cmerz@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Carlos Diaz – cdiaz@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Andy Zodrow – azodrow@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Nancy Besore – nbesore@cityofsafetyharbor.com


  1. Does the city budget for potential lawsuits/litigation for risky decisions like denying the medical complex when there wasn’t even a variance in play?

    • Good question. I will be upset if my taxes go up because of a commission vote (Zodrow, Besore, Merz) gets us sued for damages.

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