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Learn More About the Top Home Security Company in Belleair Beach, FL

If there's one thing that homeowners in Belleair Beach can agree on, it's that security and safety risks are part of life. You assume some risk - even if it's small - every time you walk out of your front door. Fortunately, there are many procedures and processes in place to protect us from being victims of crimes, especially in public areas like grocery stores. But what about when we're at home? According to the FBI, property crime accounts for more than 85% of all crime in the U.S. In fact, almost 4.8 million cases of property crime were reported in 2021 alone, with 50% of people reporting that they believe a property crime could happen to them.

If you live in Belleair Beach, chances are you've heard of or know someone personally who has been affected by a break-in or robbery. Property crimes and package theft are higher than the national average, at 53% and 61% respectively. Could you imagine coming home from dinner out with your family, only to see your front door smashed in and your belongings gone? Of course, being the victim of a home break-in is about more than disposable items like TVs and electronics. When the sacred space of your home is violated, you lose peace of mind. What's stopping the criminals from coming back and robbing your home again? Will they tell other criminals that your home is an easy target? Will your children be able to sleep at night knowing that their home has been broken into?

If you're like other Belleair Beach homeowners and believe that peace of mind and safety is priceless, ask yourself this: "What am I doing to make sure my home is protected from burglars?" For most, the answer to that question begins by installing a home security system in Belleair Beach, FL. When you have a burglar alarm installed, you'll have more peace of mind at home or when you're away, knowing that a home security system company like Prime Protection has got your back.

Security Camera Systems Belleair Beach, FL

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Prime Protection: Changing the Face of the Home Security Industry

Prime Protection LLC was founded to change the face of the home security industry. We operate on the Golden Rule standard: "Do unto others as you would want done unto you." When you trust Prime Protection, you can have confidence that we will treat your home as if it were our own. Our technicians will go above and beyond to make sure your family is protected and that all of your questions are answered. Because, at the end of the day, that's how we'd like to be treated.

We're known locally as the "ADT home security company in Belleair Beach, FL" to homeowners, business owners, and even Realtors. Regardless of your home security needs, our goal is to take great care of you and your ADT home security system. That way, you know your home, belongings, and family members are protected.

To provide the best home alarm system services, we partnered up with ADT Security. Why? Their facility is state-of-the-art, their customer service is unmatched, and no other monitoring company is approved by the Department of Defense. They're trusted with monitoring the White House - which lets you know that there's no other choice when it comes to protecting your home.

 ADT Home Security Belleair Beach, FL

We provide a variety of home security camera systems and accessories, including:

  • Burglar Alarms
  • Home Alarm Systems
  • CCTV Camera Systems
  • 24/7 Alarm Monitoring
  • ADT Home Security Systems
  • ADT Monitored Doorbell Cameras
  • ADT Monitored Security Cameras
  • ADT Monitored Home Automation
  • Systems
  • Smart Home Security
  • Fire Monitor & Detection
  • Live Streaming
 ADT Home Security System Belleair Beach, FL
 Home Security Near Me Belleair Beach, FL

What Makes Prime Protection Different from Other Home Security Companies?

Simply put, your family's safety is our top priority. We offer the most up-to-date ADT home security products, and our technicians use the most current technology and methods to install our products. As an ADT-authorized dealer, we have the tools, training, and home security system products to help keep your home safe.

From start to finish, our team of professionals is happy to help explain the highlights and advantages of our products, so you can make an informed decision about protecting your home. Our flexible options allow you to pick what products you want and what services you need. It's easier than DIY!

When you trust Prime Protection for a home alarm system in Belleair Beach, FL, you're not only treated to a professional, efficient experience. You also benefit from:

Lifetime Warranties

As long as you're subscribed to our monthly monitoring agreement, all ADT equipment you purchase from Prime Protection is covered by a lifetime warranty.

24/7 Support

ADT's customer service is available 24/7, while Prime Protection's is open from 9am to 8pm. You can reach them both by phone.

11+ Years of Experience

We've been serving homeowners and commercial clients in Belleair Beach for more than a decade. As locals in our community, we prioritize qualities such as hard work, transparency, and reliability. We know that money doesn't grow on trees, and as such, make every effort to keep our prices reasonable for hardworking people in Belleair Beach.

Our technicians install and maintain home security systems for many different types of clients, including:

  • Homeowners
  • Renters
  • Apartment Complexes
  • Townhomes
  • Grocery Stores
  • Offices
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Government

Prime Protection has the home and family protection you need. We provide everything you need to feel safe at home, from basic burglar alarms to ADT-monitored smart home security systems that offer total home protection. Contact our office today for help finding the right security system package for your family.

Why Should I Invest in a Home Security System in Belleair Beach, FL?

Whether you live in a gated community miles from a metropolitan area or you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city, having a home alarm system is a smart investment. Modern home security systems do more than sound an alarm if someone breaks in - they can include home automation features that make your life easier and can even help reduce energy consumption. But that's just the start. Let's take a look at some of the biggest reasons why you should consider investing in a burglar alarm for your home in Belleair Beach.

 ADT Alarm System Belleair Beach, FL

The top reason to buy a security system for your home is for the protection it provides. From home intrusions and burglaries to fires and even natural disasters, today's residential home monitoring systems work even when you're not there. They can also help in the event of a medical emergency. Buying a robust alarm or camera system for security is an investment.

However, when you discover that the average burglary costs homeowners more than $2,600 per victim (according to the FBI), the cost starts to make a lot of sense. When you're the victim of a home break-in, the damage goes beyond fiscal. There's long-lasting psychological damage that occurs, too, and having a home security system can help prevent that trauma.

 ADT Security Systems Belleair Beach, FL

Research conducted by Professor Joe Kuhns of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at UNC Charlotte found that nearly 60% of burglars planned their break-ins less than 24 hours before attempting them. Additionally, 83% of burglars surveyed reported that they looked for signs of an alarm system, and over half of them stated that they would abandon their plans if they saw one. This research underscores the effectiveness of visible alarm system indicators such as ADT stickers, yard signs, and outdoor cameras in deterring potential burglars, as their crimes are often opportunistic in nature.

 Smart Home Systems Belleair Beach, FL

By installing a home security system, you can have peace of mind, knowing that your home is protected whether you're away or asleep. Plus, modern wireless security systems from ADT that are connected to the internet also allow you to check on your home from anywhere in the world. So, if you're on a business trip in Dubai and want to check on your home, you can do so in a moment's time.

 ADT Home Automation Belleair Beach, FL

When you have a professionally installed home alarm system from a company like Prime Protection, many home insurance companies offer you a discount on the price of your premium. More substantial discounts typically apply to systems that include environmental monitoring for smoke, water damage, fire, and intrusion monitoring. While a discount on your home insurance may not cover the total home security camera system in Belleair Beach, FL, it can make having one more affordable over time. Plus, if you need to file an insurance claim for a break-in or other event, having high-def, reliable video footage can be incredibly beneficial.

 Home Security System Belleair Beach, FL

Safety products like ADT-monitored home automation systems can include home automation features that provide convenience and energy savings, making it easier to save time and money. Smart lights and thermostats, when paired with a security system, can adjust themselves to save energy when the system is armed. Additionally, smart door locks and connected garage door openers can offer a secure way to allow friends and family into your home.

 Home Security Company Belleair Beach, FL

In case of an emergency, home automation security systems can offer fast and efficient response times. Whether it's alerting you to a potential threat at your back door or contacting emergency services or the police automatically, these systems help ensure that help is nearby when you truly need it most.

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Security Camera Systems Belleair Beach, FL

Prime Protection Pro Tip

Many wireless home security systems from ADT work with a smartphone app. This makes keeping up with your pets and family much easier. For example, motion and door sensors will alert you if someone is sneaking around your property. But they can also alert you when your child walks in the front door after school, if an older adult in your home gets out of bed.

Popular Products from Our Home Security System Company in Belleair Beach, FL

Want to learn more about the products and services offered at Prime Protection? We offer a wide range of home security alarm products, from affordable security cameras to fully monitored home protection plans that include automated features. Here are just a few of the most popular products we provide to homeowners and commercial clients in Belleair Beach:

 ADT Home Security Belleair Beach, FL
 ADT Home Security System Belleair Beach, FL

ADT Monitored Home Automation

By integrating a home automation system, you can turn your house into a futuristic living space. Automating your home provides you with control over various aspects such as lighting, energy efficiency, home security, and video doorbells. A few features of ADT's monitored home automation package include the following:

  • Smart Plugs
  • Monitored Smart Door Locks
  • Smart Thermostats
  • Monitored Garage Door Security
  • Monitored Security Cameras
  • More

ADT Monitored Doorbell Cameras

When it comes to home robberies, almost 34% of criminals come through your front door. Doorbell cameras with motion detection from ADT can help you keep unwanted guests away from your home. When your doorbell camera detects someone at your front door, you'll get an alert on your smartphone. When you're not at home, you can see and communicate with anyone who happens to be at your front door, from delivery drivers to neighbors.

Doorbell camera features include:

  • Weatherproof
  • Two-Way Audio
  • HD Imaging and Video
  • Wide Viewing Angles
  • Wireless
  • Compatible with Android and Apple Devices
  • Infrared LED Night Vision
 Home Security Near Me Belleair Beach, FL
 ADT Alarm System Belleair Beach, FL

ADT Monitored Home Alarm Systems

These days, having a reliable alarm system for your home in Belleair Beach is essential. Aras like Sunny Isles Beach has seen an increase in property crime at more than 12 incidents per 1,000 people in 2024 alone. With hurricanes and other natural disasters occurring often, it's normal to be concerned about your property.

Fortunately, ADT's home alarm system covers various aspects of home protection, including monitoring for burglaries, fire, flood, and carbon monoxide. Prime Protection LLC offers additional features like video monitoring, door lock and unlock, thermostat adjustment, garage door control, light control, and even the ability to see and communicate with visitors at your front door through home automation options.

Features of our monitored home alarm systems can include the following:

  • Burglar Alarms
  • Command Panel
  • Monitored Glass Break Detectors
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • Window & Door Sensors
  • Key Fob for Alarming & Disarming

Is Signing Up with Prime Protection Easy?

Now that you know a little more about our company, our products, and why you should invest in a home security system in Belleair Beach, FL, you may be excited to learn more or sign up for ADT monitoring services. We make it as easy as possible so you can get the protection you need in as little time as possible. Here's a quick snapshot of our working process:

 ADT Security Systems Belleair Beach, FL

Get Your Quote Today!

Whether your home security system is underperforming, outdated, or non-existent, Prime Protection is here to help. Our home alarm systems do more than make noise - they make your life easier and provide peace of mind, even when you're away.

If a worst-case scenario happens and your home is burglarized, you'll have the right protections in place to keep your family safe. Contact Prime Protection today and take the first step toward a safer, more enjoyable home life in Belleair Beach.

 Home Security Company Belleair Beach, FL

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10 Best Beaches in Clearwater, Florida

Nestled along the Gulf Coast of Florida, Clearwater is a haven for beach lovers, boasting pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and a vibrant coastal atmosphere. Whether you seek the thrill of water sports, the tranquility of sun-soaked relaxation, or the charm of seaside neighborhoods, Clearwater's beaches offer something for everyone. Here are the 10 best beaches in Clearwater to explore with your family and friends.Table of Contents1...

Nestled along the Gulf Coast of Florida, Clearwater is a haven for beach lovers, boasting pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and a vibrant coastal atmosphere. Whether you seek the thrill of water sports, the tranquility of sun-soaked relaxation, or the charm of seaside neighborhoods, Clearwater's beaches offer something for everyone. Here are the 10 best beaches in Clearwater to explore with your family and friends.

Table of Contents

10 Best Beaches in Clearwater, Florida

Clearwater Beach, a gem of Florida's Gulf Coast, is a haven for sun-seekers and adventure enthusiasts alike. Its soft, sugar-white sand, reminiscent of fine crystals, and gentle turquoise waters, shimmering like aquamarine jewels, create an idyllic setting for a beach getaway.

Highlights of the Beach:

Unwind and reconnect with nature at Caladesi Island State Park, an unspoiled gem nestled off the coast of Florida. The three-mile beach is located on a barrier island off the coast of Clearwater Beach. This secluded slice of paradise offers a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, inviting you to embrace the tranquility of the natural world.

Highlights of the Beach:

Unwind at Fort De Soto Park, a sprawling waterfront gem encompassing five distinct beaches. Each beach offers a unique personality, from the bustling ambiance of North Beach to the tranquil serenity of East Beach. Discover Civil War-era ruins, explore tidal pools, or simply bask in the splendor of the Gulf Coast.

The park is located on five islands in Pinellas County, southwest of Mullet Key. The islands were once used for military fortifications, and the park has a museum and exhibits that showcase this history. Fort De Soto Park has three miles of white sand beaches.

There are also two large swim centers, including the North Beach Swim Center, which has a food concession area. The park has multiple bathrooms and showers at the beach areas. There are also ramps from the parking lot to the sidewalk and five beach wheelchairs

Highlights of the Beach:

Families flock to Treasure Island Beach, a haven for fun and relaxation. Its calm waters provide a safe haven for swimming, while a variety of kid-friendly activities, including playgrounds, miniature golf courses, and ice cream parlors, keep children entertained for hours.

Highlights of the Beach:

Step back in time at Pass-A-Grille Beach, a charming enclave exuding a nostalgic small-town atmosphere. This seaside haven offers a sanctuary for those seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a place where time slows down and memories are made to last a lifetime. Stroll along its historic pier, indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants, or simply relax on its pristine shores, soaking in the laid-back coastal vibes.

Highlights of the Beach:

Embark on an underwater adventure at Sand Key Park, a haven for snorkeling, swimming, and fishing. Explore its vibrant coral reefs, teeming with marine life, or take a guided kayak tour through the mangroves. The park also features a nature center, offering educational programs and exhibits. Whether you're a seasoned snorkeler or a curious beginner, Sand Key Park offers an unforgettable underwater adventure.

Highlights of the Beach:

Nestled amidst lush tropical foliage, Honeymoon Island State Park offers a tranquil escape for couples seeking a romantic getaway. Its secluded beaches, accessible only by ferry, provide a private haven for intimate moments and unforgettable memories. Seek romantic seclusion at Honeymoon Island State Park, a picturesque getaway nestled amidst lush tropical foliage.

Highlights of the Beach:

Discover a world of water sports at Anclote Key Preserve State Park, a paddler's paradise. Its calm waters and sheltered coves provide ideal conditions for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Explore the island's mangrove forests and encounter a variety of birdlife.

Highlights of the Beach:

Escape the bustling crowds and find serenity at Belleair Beach, a tranquil haven tucked away from the tourist hotspots. Its serene atmosphere, uncrowded shores, and abundance of green spaces provide a peaceful retreat, perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Highlights of the Beach:

Indulge in family fun at Indian Rocks Beach, a lively beachfront community. Its expansive shoreline offers ample space for sunbathing, swimming, and various water sports, while a plethora of beachfront restaurants, shops, and entertainment options provide endless possibilities for fun.

Highlights of the Beach:

Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or a taste of local charm, Clearwater's beaches offer a diverse array of experiences, catering to every traveler's desire. Embrace the sun-kissed shores, immerse yourself in the vibrant coastal atmosphere, and create unforgettable memories along the breathtaking beaches of Clearwater, Florida.

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Belleair Beach mayor creates petition to fight new financial disclosure law

Small local government leaders all over the state are resigning because of a new financial disclosure law. One small city in Pinellas County, Belleair Beach, has already lost several of its council members, and now the mayor is taking a stance. “I knew that this day would come. I knew that we would have people resign and we would have a hard time filling those seats," said the City of Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis.PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Small local government leaders all over the state are resigning because of a n...

Small local government leaders all over the state are resigning because of a new financial disclosure law. One small city in Pinellas County, Belleair Beach, has already lost several of its council members, and now the mayor is taking a stance. “I knew that this day would come. I knew that we would have people resign and we would have a hard time filling those seats," said the City of Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Small local government leaders all over the state are resigning because of a new financial disclosure law.

One small city in Pinellas County, Belleair Beach, has already lost several council members, and now the mayor is taking a stance.

“I knew that this day would come. I knew that we would have people resign and we would have a hard time filling those seats," said the City of Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis.

Gattis said as soon as the new financial disclosure law went into effect, he knew it would majorly impact his council.

“It saddens me that we are being forced to make these changes," said Gattis.

The law applies to small local governments and requires members to release their net worth and details about their assets valued at over $1,000.

“I have a laser engraver. I have guitars at home worth over $1,000. That would force us to list every watch, every ring, it’s just overreach," said Mike Zabel, a former council member.

Mike Zabel recently stepped down from his position. Right now, three city council seats need to be filled.

“I’m not going to release excessive family details to serve on a volunteer board," said Zabel.

Mayor Gattis said the city has had a hard time filling those council member positions, so now the city is having to make some changes of its own.

Mayor Gattis said volunteers are not stepping up to the plate, so he’s had to make the tough decision to cancel the city council election in March and allow residents to vote to reduce the number of city council members from seven to five.

“There will be less people who are accessible to the public," said Gattis.

Because of these impacts, Mayor Gattis started a petition, asking the state legislature to reconsider the law.

“There should be some waivers given to communities like Belleair Beach," said Gattis.

Supporters of the law said if financial disclosure is required for larger government leaders, it shouldn’t be an issue for smaller ones.

Mayor Gattis argues smaller governments don’t get paid much and are volunteer-based.

"Whenever we aren’t meeting, we go to our regular jobs, and we work Monday through Friday, and we just want to serve our community," said Gattis.

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More Pinellas County elected officials resign in wake of controversial new Florida law

Local elected officials continue to announce their resignations in the wake of a new law in Florida requiring those small-town officials to disclose in-depth financial information.The new law, referred to as Form 6, requires the disclosure of items like net worth and the price of any assets owned over $1,000. It is causing a wave of resignations among elected local officials.More than a dozen city commissioners have resigned in Pinellas a...

Local elected officials continue to announce their resignations in the wake of a new law in Florida requiring those small-town officials to disclose in-depth financial information.

The new law, referred to as Form 6, requires the disclosure of items like net worth and the price of any assets owned over $1,000. It is causing a wave of resignations among elected local officials.

More than a dozen city commissioners have resigned in Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

Belleair Town Hall

At a St. Pete Beach city council meeting on Monday, four out of the five council members announced they will resign effective Dec. 30th, including the vice mayor.

FOX 13 spoke with Belleair Beach Mayor Dave Gattis, who lost four of his council members and has tried quickly filling the vacancies with other volunteers. He says the new law is an invasion of privacy and security for these small-town elected officials – who are not career politicians.

"Why did it suddenly have to become so invasive? We were already reporting our financial situation, but now they want it so granular that it almost looks like an attack on home rule and an attack on small municipalities," says Mayor Gattis. "If we [are] unable to fulfill our charter, what’s going to happen? Are they trying to force us to dissolve? I don’t get what Tallahassee’s end game is here."

City of Belleair Beach

The Florida governor signed this law back in May 2023, and it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. Local municipalities could see even more resignations before the end of the year.

"It’s just a complete invasion of privacy. For what we do in these small towns, we are volunteers; we’re not career politicians-- we’re just doing what we think is best for our town and our city, trying to serve," Belleair Mayor Mike Wilkinson tells FOX13. "We all have careers and families; it’s not a full-time position for any of us."

Municipalities are now having emergency meetings and asking for volunteers to fill the vacancies before the end of the year, with potential special elections next year in some places.

"We don’t get a dime for what we do here; we do this for the love of our community, and just by the rule itself, most people are in a situation where they now pay an accountant to fill out the form, so now you are paying to serve your community," Gattis says.

Gattis is gathering community support to bring a petition to Tallahassee early next year to try to ease up on the disclosures required.

Belleair Beach struggles to find replacements after 4 of 7 commissioners resign over new state law

The mayor says he expects another resignation by the year's end. It continues a trend of elected officials across the area resigning over new disclosure requirementsBELLEAIR BEACH, Fla. — Four of Belleair Beach’s seven city council members have resigned over a new state law requiring more public officials to file a detailed financial disclosure that some say is too intrusive.“It began a few months ago with one council member and then another and another and then another," said Mayor Dave Gattis, who added...

The mayor says he expects another resignation by the year's end. It continues a trend of elected officials across the area resigning over new disclosure requirements

BELLEAIR BEACH, Fla. — Four of Belleair Beach’s seven city council members have resigned over a new state law requiring more public officials to file a detailed financial disclosure that some say is too intrusive.

“It began a few months ago with one council member and then another and another and then another," said Mayor Dave Gattis, who added that another council member has decided to not run for reelection. "I received the final resignation yesterday. Out of the five seats we're having to fill, I only have two qualified candidates.

"Fortunately, that will make it possible for us to do business, but it will make us short-handed."

Belleair Beach is just one of several cities and towns across the Tampa Bay area where elected officials have resigned in the wake of the Florida Commission on Ethics’ new requirements for Form 6. Already required by the governor and state legislators, a new law now requires mayors and elected leaders within municipalities to also complete the form.

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In it, they must detail business interests, net worth, plus assets and liabilities worth more than a thousand dollars.

Critics say for career politicians, that’s fine — but for elected leaders in small communities who receive little to no pay for their work — the new law goes too far.

“You have people all over our community that will not volunteer if they have to do a full financial disclosure because it opens them up to possible financial damages, also harassment and certain cases – like in the case of my wife – she would be required to reveal who she does business with and that would reveal to the competition who to go after,” Gattis said.

In the town of Belleair, just a few miles from the city of Belleair Beach, leaders held an emergency meeting Tuesday evening to fill openings after two commissioners resigned over Form 6.

“It's not something they felt they wanted to divulge, and so, I totally understand that,” Mayor Michael Wilkinson said.

He also fears the form’s requirements could potentially keep qualified candidates off the ballots in the future.

“It's unfortunate this came about because it's going to dissuade a lot of people from wanting to serve in the future,” he said, adding the law takes away from “home rule.”

“I believe in the concept of ‘home rule,’ which means that each community can rule themselves, and I think that if our residents in Belleair wanted us to fill this out, I would be more in favor of it.”

In St. Pete Beach, for some, the sentiment is the same.

"I feel it is an intrusion of privacy," said Mark Grill, vice mayor and commissioner for St. Pete Beach. "It's an over-reach by the state government.”

Grill says commissioners already complete a financial disclosure through Form 1.

“It includes our assets, our liabilities, our sources of income. It just doesn't go down to the dollar level. In addition, we are subject to the Sunshine Law, which means that all of our business is open, conducted before the public, and we also go through required state ethics training.”

Grill says he will leave his position at the end of the year. He is one of four commissioners who recently resigned in the wake of the new law. The city will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday, Dec. 21 and every day after Christmas for the rest of the year to address the pending vacancies.

State Sen. Jason Brodeur, who sponsored SB 774 that brought changes to Form 6 requirements, said he did so to bring more transparency in government.

“City officials, presumably with the highest spending authority and the lowest vote count thresholds, have very little transparency, so the bill lined them up with everyone else in public office,” he said in a statement. “I’m not so much concerned about their pay as I am about their spending authority. It takes 82 votes in the Legislature to spend taxpayer dollars. A simple majority in both the Senate (21) and in the House (61)].

"In a city, you can spend tens of millions of dollars with as little as three votes. Taxpayers deserve transparency. If a simple disclosure that hundreds of other elected officials already do makes someone quit, then voters should be glad.”10 Investigates has counted at least 18 public officials in the Tampa Bay area who have resigned over this new law.

Gattis has started a petition asking legislators to amend Senate Bill 774.

Emerald Morrow is an investigative reporter with10 Tampa Bay. Like her onFacebookand follow her on X. You can also email her atemorrow@10tampabay.com.

New Florida law pushes some small town officials to resign

Belleair Town Commissioner Thomas Nessler always envisioned serving more than one term in his role representing a community of 4,300 residents.His grandfather was a U.S. representative in Illinois, but Nessler, a 35-year-old civil trial attorney, said his goal wasn’t higher office. During his first three-year term in Belleair, he’s taken pride in the impact of local government, like how the commission recently approved sidewalks and streetlights for a neglected road.But on Dec. 30, Nessler will resign due to a new s...

Belleair Town Commissioner Thomas Nessler always envisioned serving more than one term in his role representing a community of 4,300 residents.

His grandfather was a U.S. representative in Illinois, but Nessler, a 35-year-old civil trial attorney, said his goal wasn’t higher office. During his first three-year term in Belleair, he’s taken pride in the impact of local government, like how the commission recently approved sidewalks and streetlights for a neglected road.

But on Dec. 30, Nessler will resign due to a new state law requiring elected officials of towns and cities to file the more extensive financial disclosure forms already submitted by higher office holders like county commissioners, state lawmakers and the governor. He’s not alone.

At least eight elected officials in the Pinellas County municipalities of Belleair, Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Indian Rocks Beach and Seminole have left office or will resign by the time the law takes effect on Jan. 1 to avoid filing the form. They are among several officials across the state leaving for the same reason.

“For a job where the civic duty is great but that’s kind of thankless and not my full-time job, it was an intrusive ask,” said Nessler, who receives a small stipend from the town.

In the Pasco County city of San Antonio, two of the five city commissioners resigned this fall over the disclosure requirement and were replaced through appointments, according to Julia Fresne, assistant to the City Clerk. The city of roughly 1,400 residents pays its commissioners $50 a month.

Elected officials in cities used to file at least a Form 1 financial disclosure that lists assets and liabilities over $10,000, sources of income and property holdings, but did not specify dollar amounts.

The new law requires them to fill out a Form 6 to disclose net worth and the dollar amount of assets, liabilities and income over $1,000. In some cases, officials who own more than 5% of a business must name clients and customers that make up more than 10% of the venture’s income.

The Florida League of Cities opposed the change, warning earlier this year that more extensive disclosures could deter qualified candidates from seeking municipal office, especially in Florida’s smaller cities and towns where elected officials serve for little or no pay. A league spokesperson could not estimate how many officials statewide have resigned over the measure.

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According to local news reports, elected officials have resigned in Dunnellon, Windermere, Longboat Key and South Florida municipalities, citing the new disclosure requirement. The codes of some larger cities, like Tampa and St. Petersburg, already required the Form 6 prior to the law change.

State Sen. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, who sponsored the legislation, said the measure is a matter of transparency for officials with spending authority over taxpayer dollars. He said it takes 82 votes in the Legislature, a simple majority in the House and Senate, to spend public funds. In some city governments, a majority vote can mean three people deciding how to spend millions of public dollars.

“Taxpayers deserve transparency,” Brodeur said. “If a simple disclosure that hundreds of other elected officials already do makes someone quit, then voters should be glad.”

Seminole City Council member Jim Olliver, who will resign at the end of this month over the measure, called it “legislative overreach on steroids.” It’s another example of state lawmakers taking autonomy away from cities, he said.

Olliver was elected to the City Council in 2019, four years after retiring as provost of St. Petersburg College’s Seminole campus. He saw local government as a way to give back. The office pays $9,223.

While deciding whether to resign in the middle of his second three-year term, Olliver said he called the state Commission on Ethics for clarification on the disclosure form, like how to value his coin collection and several timeshares.

He said he couldn’t get a clear answer and called the measure “overreach and punitive,” considering the risk of filling out the form incorrectly.

“We are subject to open meetings law, public records law; nothing we do isn’t totally visible to the public already,” Olliver said. “The Legislature doesn’t have those same requirements, and it’s just a little rich for them to impose another requirement on local officials.”

Tom Trask, whose law firm, Trask Daigneault LLP, represents 13 Pinellas municipalities as city attorney, said he expects “a huge impact” on communities in the long term. For the vacancies caused by the recent resignations, cities will attempt to appoint candidates to complete unexpired terms until the next elections, but it could be challenging.

“Not only are small towns and cities dealing with resignations of commissioners currently holding office, they are also dealing with the possibility that no one will apply for the vacancies or run for office in the upcoming election cycle because of the Form 6 requirement,” Trask said.

Across the state, resignations have occurred primarily in smaller communities. Trask said that could be because the cost of having to hire an accountant to fill out the disclosure form is a deterrent to commissioners who get paid little or nothing for their service.

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