Pinellas County, Florida

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Pinellas County is one of 67 counties in Florida. Clearwater is the county seat.

Pinellas County's population as of 2013 was 929,048. It is one of 20 charter counties in the state. It became a charter county in 1980.[1]

Evaluation of website

Since 2011, Pinellas County received a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score.

This website was most recently reviewed an unknown date.

Grade2.pngA+
Budget
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Meetings
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Elected Officials
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Administrative Officials
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Permits, zoning
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Audits
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Contracts
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Lobbying
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Public records
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Local taxes
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County websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process


The website was recognized as one of the most transparent in the country, which it achieved after a website upgrade.

Recently we’ve been working with the county administrator on a Gov 2.0 initiative, focusing on maximizing public usability of the Web site, enhanced citizen engagement and open government, leveraging the latest technology for cost efficiency,” said Michael Roiland, eGov/Web manager of Business Technology Services. “The purpose is to maximize transparency of government operations for effective Sunshine compliance and for optimum usability for the citizenry via the Web portal.[2]

In June of 2010, Pinellas launched Crime Viewer a 24/7, a GIS mapping tool that will automatically track crime every 24 hours.[3]

In March of 2014, Pinellas launched Spending in the Sunshine a new website that allows users to view financial transactions undertaken by the Clerk of the Circuit Court and the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. The Spending in the Sunshine website is the latest offering by Pinellas County to provide citizens an electronically accessed, transparent view of government activities. The Spending in the Sunshine website allows users to view detailed financial transactions down to the invoice level, and if applicable, the check number and funding source across both departments. The site offers multiple methods of searching for information under various categories including by vendor, department and spending. The site also provides records of salary expenditures for employees under both entities. Tutorial videos are placed on each tab of the site to help users navigate the different functions associated with each type of search. Users are also able to export data into multiple programs.[4]

The good

  • Budget
    • The most current budget is listed.
    • Budgets are archived for 9 years.[5]
  • Administrative officials
    • Department heads are listed for each department.
    • Contact information for administrative officials is provided including a mailing address, phone number, and personalized email.[6]
  • Elected Officials
    • Elected officials are listed with a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[7]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting minutes are archived for 13 years.[8]
    • Meeting agendas are archived for 5 years.[9]
    • A meeting calendar is available and names the times and locations of public meetings.[10]
    • Meeting videos are available.[11]
  • Audits
    • The most recent audit is posted.
    • Audits dating back to 10 are available.[12]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and RFPs are posted online.[13]
    • Approved contract statements are provided for vendors.[14]
  • Public Records
    • View detailed Pinellas County government financial transactions. View detailed financial transactions down to the invoice level, and if applicable, the check number and funding source across both departments. The site offers multiple methods of searching for information under various categories including by vendor, department and spending.[15]
    • The public information officer is identified and maintained by the Communications Director. This person provides a mailing address, phone number and personalized email.[16]
    • Extensive Public Records are freely available on the website.[17]
    • A public records form is provided.[18]
  • Taxes
    • Tax revenues are broken down by federal, state, and local funding in the budget.
    • Local taxes, like property taxes, are available online.[19]
    • Residents are able to pay taxes online.[20]
  • Lobbying
  • Permits and zoning
    • Zoning ordinances are posted online.
    • Permit applications can be downloaded on the site, along with information on how to apply for the permits.[23]

Board of County Commissioners

The State constitution gives the Board of County Commissioners the power to adopt ordinances (local laws), approve the County budget and set millages, and establish the requirements for the departments under its control. The Board governs all unincorporated areas of the county directly; municipalities may call upon the County for specialized services.[24]

The Commission does not have control of the budgets or policies of the School Board. The Commission approves support funding for court services, insofar as County funds are concerned, and approves the budgets of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Sheriff, and the Supervisor of Elections. Budgets for the Tax Collector and the Property Appraiser are approved by the State Department of Revenue and filed with the Board of County Commissioners. The commissioners also serve as other Boards for the County, such as the Emergency Medical Services Authority, the Fire Protection Authority, the Mosquito Control Board, the Countywide Planning Authority, and the Water & Navigation Control Authority.[24]

County administrator

The county administrator manages the business of county government and reports to the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. Mark S. Woodard is currently the interim administrator for Pinellas County after former county administrator Robert S. LaSala was terminated without cause on April 15, 2014.[25][26]

Lobbying

Main article: Florida government sector lobbying

The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) hires federal and state lobbyists to assist them in gaining support for issues that affect the departments under the BCC. These departments include Health & Community Services, Public Safety Services, Environment & Infrastructure, Planning & Development Services, Convention & Visitors Bureau and Parks and Conservation Resources. The continuation of funding for beach renourishment and changes to the National Flood Insurance Program are examples of county interests for which federal lobbyists have successfully engaged. At the state level, the issues that are supported are included in the Pinellas County Legislative Program that is approved by the BCC each year.[27]

Pinellas County has reported $670,000 spent on lobbying the federal government since 2005 (see table).

Reported lobbying expenditures, 2005-2010[28]
Year Amount spent on lobbying
2010 $60,000
2009 $80,000
2008 $150,000
2007 $120,000
2006 $120,000
2005 $140,000

Taxes

Pinellas County has a website dedicated to local taxes.[29]

Audits

For Pinellas County, the clerk or comptroller performs the internal audits.[30]

External links

References

  1. Florida's charter counties
  2. Tampa Bay Newspapers, County receives A+ for Web site, June 22, 2010
  3. Gov Tech, Pinellas County, Fla., Unveils 24/7 Crime Mapping Tool, June 23, 2010
  4. Pinellas County Spending in the Sunshine Interactive Website
  5. Pinellas County, Budgets, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  6. Pinellas County, Departments, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  7. Pinellas County, Elected Officials, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  8. Pinellas County, Meeting Minutes, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  9. Pinellas County, Meeting Agendas, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  10. Pinellas County, Meeting Calendar, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  11. Pinellas County, Meeting Videos, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  12. Pinellas County, Audits, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  13. Pinellas County, Bids, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  14. Pinellas County, Bid Results, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  15. Pinellas County, Spending in the Sunshine, Accessed: Mar 27, 2014
  16. Pinellas County, Communications Director, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  17. Pinellas County, Public Records, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  18. Pinellas County, Public Records Request Form, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  19. Pinellas County, Property Taxes, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  20. Pinellas County, Pay Property Taxes, Accessed: April 1, 2014
  21. Pinellas County, Lobbying, Accessed: April 1, 2014
  22. Pinellas County, Lobbyist, Accessed: April 1, 2014
  23. Pinellas County, Building Permits and Zoning, Accessed: Feb 17, 2013
  24. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named members
  25. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named admin
  26. Tampa Bay Newspapers Weekly, "Pinellas appoints interim administrator", April 22, 2014
  27. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named lobbying
  28. Open Secrets
  29. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named taxes
  30. PBC Clerk & Comptroller 5.30.07