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Witness: Mark Woodard made decision not to hire former Pinellas County commissioner

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard made the decision to “unhire” Norm Roche, according to court testimony Wednesday. Roche, a former Pinellas commissioner, is suing Woodard and the county alleging that he was blackballed from working for the county after he lost a bid for re-election. Roche, who had been employed by the County for a decade before being elected, said he applied for 26 jobs with Pinellas after leaving office. He was finally hired on his 27th try, but before he could…

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Costs of ambulance rides, pet licenses could increase in Pinellas

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Fees for ambulance service and pet licenses could go up in the next fiscal year under a recommendation prepared by Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard. Woodard made his recommendations for changes in fees charged for county services during a workshop Tuesday. His recommendations would not become final until the 2016-17 budget is passed in September. If they pass, they will go into effect Oct. 1. Under Woodard’s proposal, the fee for ambulance services would see at least three changes. Emergency…

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County commissioners want Rays to know: ‘We want you to stay in Pinellas’

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The news that Tampa Bay Rays officials have discussed nine potential sites for a new ballfield with Tampa and Hillsborough officials was not welcome information among Pinellas commissioners. It’s time, they said, to make sure the Rays know the county wants them to stay whether it’s in St. Petersburg or elsewhere in Pinellas. It’s time to talk about other sites in Pinellas, Commissioner Ken Welch said Thursday. “Those conversations need to be happening now,” he said. They appointed Welch to…

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Pinellas commissioners to county administrator: Find money for school nurses

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Much of Thursday’s discussion about Pinellas County’s budget centered on school nurses – or the lack of them in a proposed spending list for the 2016-17 fiscal year. “The school nurses are not in the recommendations,” Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard told commissioners. It was an unpopular omission from the $15.7 million list. “We’re either going to pay now or later,” Commissioner Karen Seel said. “I’d rather grow healthy children.” Seel was the driving force behind a proposal to shift…

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Pinellas tax rate expected to stay the same

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas property owners can expect their county property tax rate to remain the same in the coming fiscal year, according to County Administrator Mark Woodard. The current tax rate is about $5.28 per thousand dollars of assessed, taxable property value. A homeowner with a house worth $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay about $528 in county property taxes. Woodard made the prediction Thursday morning during a budget workshop with county commission members. He also unveiled a list totaling…

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Mayors ask Pinellas to reconsider Sunday morning alcohol sales ban

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Some Pinellas mayors want the Pinellas County Commission to relax its ban on selling alcohol before 11 a.m. on Sundays. Allowing sales earlier in the day, they say, is a matter of smart economics, a sign of a progressive region, and a tourist-friendly idea. “In our minds, it’s just sort of a leftover law that doesn’t have any use anymore,” said R.B. Johnson, mayor of Indian Rocks Beach, of his council’s favorable stance on changing the rule. “We just felt…

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Former Pinellas commissioner waits to see if his “unhiring” lawsuit against county can continue

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Before Norm Roche was elected to the Pinellas commission in 2010, he had spent a decade as a county employee. So when he lost his bid for re-election to former state Rep. Ed Hooper in the Republican primary, he figured he could go back to work for the county. He figured wrong. Roche said he was turned down for 26 county positions. On his 27th attempt, he was successful. He was hired April 28, 2015, as a customer service specialist. He passed…

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