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Our Club Welcomes Pinellas County Commissioner and Chair Chris Justice & Two New Members

Our club was fortunate to have Pinellas County Commissioner Chris Justice speak to our club about the current status of Pinellas County. Chairman Justice began by telling us how our county of almost 1 million people (where 600,000 live in unincorporated areas) is governed. There are seven commissioners at large and four commissions that represent single-member districts. The budget is about $2.9 billion, with 22% of that coming from property taxes and the rest from other sources. Pinellas County has about 2,000 employees, including a county administrator and county attorney.

During the pandemic, Pinellas County employees performed heroically as they distributed PPE to senior facilities and provided training for their employees. There are about 500,000 people employed in Pinellas County, and we have an unemployment rate of 2.8 %.

Commissioner Justice brought us up to date on tourism in Pinellas County, where all records were shattered in 2019. Of course, the numbers were rolled back after covid came to visit. In 2021 tourism tax was up again when we had 15 million visitors and collected $72.5 million in bed taxes. The economic impact was $8 billion, and 91,000 jobs were created.

Charlie also brought us some excellent news: recent emphasis on improving stormwater systems has result

ed in a 35% reduction of property insurance for some; since 2017, the commission has focused on using Penny for Pinellas money to buy land and partner with developers and Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing.

We also had the honor to induct two new members, David Bramley and Don Bergeron, by Assistant Governor Ali Choiniere. Also pictures is Tom Dugard on the left and Rev. David Shelor center.

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