By Dan Moffett
In an effort to improve accessibility for contractors, Briny Breezes council members agreed to expand the hours Town Hall is open for public business.
Beginning in August, the office will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The office used to close at noon on those days.
Donna Coates, Briny Breezes’ corporate park manager, told the council she has received complaints from contractors who tried to pick up building permits at Town Hall but found it closed.
Town Manager Dale Sugerman said he has heard no complaints from contractors and that typically, he and Town Clerk Maya Coffield lock the doors at noon but respond to anyone who knocks and needs assistance. Sugerman and Coffield do administrative work in the office after doors close to the public.
Sugerman said the town will track the impact of the new hours over the next 90 days to determine whether they should be made permanent.
In a related matter, the council, on a 2-1 vote at the July 25 town meeting, rejected a proposal to shift more control over building permit requests to the corporate office.
Alderwoman Kathy Gross had called for changes to the permit process in May, but she voted against the measure, saying it was unacceptable. Christina Adams also voted no, and Chick Behringer voted for it. Council President Sue Thaler and Alderman Bill Birch were absent for the vote.
Coates opposed the proposal, telling the council the changes would have made the process too cumbersome and burdened the corporate office.
In other business:
• For the 11th consecutive year, Briny Breezes homeowners are likely to pay the maximum tax rate allowed by state statutes. The Town Council unanimously approved setting the millage rate limit at $10 for every $1,000 of taxable property value. The council scheduled Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 for final budget hearings and approval.
With property values up a healthy 8.8 percent over last year, homeowners will pay about 9.6 percent more in taxes, Sugerman said. The rollback rate that would keep tax bills flat year-over-year is $9.24 per $1,000.
Overall, property tax revenues are up 9.9 percent over last year as values in Briny Breezes climbed to $53.8 million.
• Town Attorney Keith Davis said, after reviewing decades-old property platting records, that it is still unclear exactly where the southern boundary of Briny Breezes is and whether the town owns part or all of Briny Breezes Boulevard.
Council members want to determine ownership of the 30-foot-wide right of way so they can consider traffic control options. Davis and Sugerman told the council they would do more research. Ú