The South Daytona City Council used its new authority to prohibit smoking or vaping at public parks.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off in June a new state law that gives counties and municipalities to restrict smoking within the boundaries of public beaches and public parks, according to myfloridahouse.gov.
Prior to the council's unanimous vote, Parks and Recreation Director Amy Zengotita's memo to City Manager Les Gillis noted “the city has received numerous complaints regarding adults smoking around kids trying to participate in a sports programs at one of our parks.”
In her lobby for the ban, Ms. Zengotita wrote, “This ordinance will be a tool that can be used by staff to prohibit smoking around children and families attempting to participate in a sport or simply playing in our parks.”
Mr. Gillis has personal experience with the issue. He recounted seeing verbal and physical alterations between smokers and nonsmokers at his children’s sporting events.
The new law is popular in government circles. It passed the Florida House and Senate with a combined 88.8% yea vote.
Around Volusia, many towns had bans of one sort or another implemented before the law took effect, including Holly Hill, Lake Helen, Ormond Beach and Ponce Inlet. The Town of Ponce Inlet did not begin enforcing its ban until the law took effect July 1.
Since the new law, Daytona Beach Shores enacted a ban on smoking in its parks. Port Orange’s Public Information Office Christine Martindale confirmed the city council would be considering a ban on smoking in its parks at their Sept. 20 meeting.
Other towns are still thinking it over or have yet to act.
Deltona Mayor Heidi Herzberg was spurred by residents and has brought the matter to the attention of Deltona Commissioners to gauge their interest in a ban.
New Smyrna Beach’s outgoing mayor Russ Owens replied via email, “I don’t recall that this has come up.” He doesn’t believe New Smyrna Beach would take any action until there are “newly seated, elected officials in NSB.”
Back in South Daytona, offenders will first be offered a chance to put out what they are smoking or relocate. The city intends to outfit parks with signs alerting park-goers to the new ordinance.
In other action, for the seventh straight year, it appears residents in South Daytona can expect their property tax rate to remain the same.
The city council adopted a tentative millage rate of 7.75 mills, the same as last year. However, it is considered a tax increase of 6.92% because the roll rollback rate, which would raise the same amount of revenue as last year, is 7.2481 for fiscal year 2022-23.
Mr. Gilles noted keeping the millage rate steady has been a City Council goal. He said it was achieved by “going through the budget, line item by line item.”
On a related issue to property taxes, the council tentatively adopted a budget of $31,973,735, which is a $5,363,378 increase from the $26,610,357 budget of the current fiscal year. Mr. Gillis stated the budget will “give a facelift to South Daytona.”
Highlights include buying four marked police cars while eight unmarked police cars will be released and giving police officers a $2.52 per hour raise. This will lift the police off the bottom of the pay scale as compared to the rest of Volusia County.
The Fire Department will receive IT upgrades, self-contained breathing apparatus and vehicle extraction gear.
The budget has money earmarked for substantial improvements to Reed Canal Park, renovations of Magnolia Park, a better splash pad at James Street Park and improvements at Riverfront Veterans Memorial Park.
A final public hearing to adopt the millage rate and fiscal year 2022-23 budget will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27.
In other action, South Daytona will be selling six acres, bought for a planned public works facility, to a mini-storage developer.
Beach Track LLC was awarded the winning bid unanimously by the council, to build a 40-unit luxury storage facility on the vacant parcel.
City Manager Gillis described the suites as “man caves.” Each unit will have a separate covered doorway, kitchen area, bathroom with shower, temperature control/HVAC, insulated electric overhead door, insulated ceilings and insulated walls.
Beach Track’s bid was $950,000. They were selected over developer DA|DC Collaborative, which also bid $950,000, but planned to build townhouses. City staff and council were in agreement that based on the businesses in the area and current zoning, the transition to mini-storage would be easier and a better fit than townhouses.
There will be an open house for the Piggotte Community Center at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, for residents to see renovations of the center.