Seminole Turns 50 This Year
Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters highlights the city of Seminole as officials get ready to celebrate its 50th birthday.
By Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters, Special to Tampa Bay Reporter
SEMINOLE – Mayor Leslie Waters looks at the state of the city of Seminole as it reaches a landmark birthday. And she looks ahead to the city’s future plans and projects.
The city of Seminole, founded in 1970, and a designated Tree City and Purple Heart City, currently has a population of about 19,000 citizens, and staff of 154 employees.
The city maintains 12.9 acres of medians and rights-of-way, and experiencing an increase in citywide taxable value from new construction and redevelopment, building permits. Emergency responses by Seminole Fire Rescue exceed 12,000 calls each year. Law enforcement to help maintain safety and security throughout the city is provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2019 the leadership of the city of Seminole was proud to announce that the last debt service payment of $944,837 was paid-off effective Sept. 30, making Seminole debt free. Our millage [property tax] rate of 2.4793 has not increased in more than 13 years, and even while spotlighting these fiscal achievements, infrastructure projects continued, and robust activities at the Recreation Complex and Community Library continued for citizens of all ages.
State grants have been helpful in funding the redevelopment of Blossom Lake Park, a wonderful neighborhood “pocket park,” and the next phase of Waterfront Park next to Home Depot. We are very excited over the engineering and design process for the Bay Pines Fire Station, a purchase of a new fire engine, the addition of three fire lieutenant positions and a district chief for EMS and, finally, improvements to Johnson Boulevard and Liberty Lane that border Freedom Square are on the drawing board. Updating city signage is also being planned.
The Recreation Complex will be under a redesign and rebuild, but meanwhile the development of an ESports program is ongoing.
The city of Seminole is landlocked, so in 2019 when the opportunity to purchase the Repetto property below the appraised value, 5.24 acres on Ridge Road/adjacent to City Park, council approved the purchase to provide land for additional recreational uses.
Of great significance to the city of Seminole was the recent completion of a seven-year pavement plan along with a financial plan sufficient to implement the pavement management plan without raising taxes. Citywide road and resurfacing projects are part of this pavement plan.
Quality of Life
The great quality of life in Seminole is impacted by the conservative use of taxpayer money by government leaders, the parks and green space are valued and maintained, low crime, highly-regarded elementary schools, numerous churches, veterans posts, and civic clubs.
With the re-development of the old Seminole Mall into the new Seminole City Center, scores of new shops and dining choices opened throughout the city, including the addition of the popular Studio-Movie-Grill Theater. Our bustling business district attracts new residents, young families, and shoppers and diners from the Greater Seminole area and beaches.
The strong relationship between the city and the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, the St. Petersburg College-Seminole campus, as well as the Seminole Historical Museum, a gem in our community, all add to the diverse and interesting fabric of Seminole.
Throughout 2020, city officials will continue to facilitate the annual Citizens Academy and the hurricane preparedness symposium. Numerous fun and exciting events such as the Pow Wow Festival and Parade in March, Art in the Park in the Spring, Aquatics and Recreation programs over the summer, Music in the Park and Field of Screams in the fall, Holiday Craft Fair and Winterfest with snow slide in the winter, will continue to attract thousands. The improved Teen Room and the first city Recreation Digital Art Studio in the state (maybe the nation), are popular destinations at the Recreation Complex. This is just a small sampling of the diverse and ongoing programs offered. Numerous programs will continue to be offered by both Recreation and Library personnel.
The elected city leaders are active members of the Suncoast League of Cities, the Florida League of Cities, the Pinellas County Council of Mayors and the Florida League of Mayors all remain vigilant in protecting “Home Rule,” helping to remind the Florida Legislature that “Local decisions are best made locally,” and not by legislators who do not live in Seminole. City Management is active with the Florida City County Management Association.
The city of Seminole received the Government Finance Officer Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Financial Reporting for the 20th consecutive year, as well as the Government Finance Officer Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 12th consecutive year. The 2017-2018 fiscal year audit was very positive and showed an appropriately healthy fund balance. Our goal is to continue to receive such distinguished fiscal recognition.
Happy 50th Anniversary, Seminole!
The 50th Anniversary Citizens Committee has many specially planned events for 2020, such as the Past Remembering the Present event at the Seminole Historical Museum on Jan. 22, with a kick-off at 6:30 pm and program at 7 p.m. The Family Fun Night at City Park is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 8, another Cemetery Tour, highlighting Seminole’s founding families, will be hosted by the Seminole Historical Society, and the first Seminole Murder Mystery Dinner Theater will open April 17. Additionally the Holloway Haven Garden Tour, a Food Truck Rally, Scavenger Hunt, a Salute to Schools, a Taste of Seminole, and a Fifty Years of Dance event will add to the city’s 50th celebration.
For a “big-little” city…Seminole is thriving, and as the proud mayor of Seminole, my focus as we turn the Big Five-0, will be to work together with city council, city management, citizen boards and committees to continue to strengthen, improve and evolve into “an even better Seminole.”
PHOTO SHOWS A TRICOLORED HERON AT LAKE SEMINOLE PARK.
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