On August 11th, City Council held a 2016-17 “Budget Workshop” (budget must be adopted before September 30th). You can view the proceedings at: http://gulfport.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=666. The City Manager’s Budget Memorandum (includes a fund and budget analysis, charts and graphs, capital improvement program, a tax and utility rate survey, and new water/sewer service rate) has more comprehensive details about budget recommendations.
I have detailed below some of my comments and/or recommendations I shared at the workshop. In certain cases I reaffirmed priorities I continue to advocate. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
Allocation of $47,000 for alley improvements for FY 2017 and 2018 ($50,000 yearly thereafter). This is one of my priority areas and appreciate the City Manager’s commitment to dedicate resources and funds.
Another one of my priorities has been improving the conditions of our streets (paving and brick maintenance). For FY 2017, the budget allocates $400,000, $370,000 for FY 2018, $350,000 for both 2019 and 2020, and $335,000 in 2021.
I proposed we develop an on-line “status update” resource for residents on the ongoing and multi-year sewer repairs. I am pleased with our appropriately-funded sewer improvement plan ($700,000 each year from 2017 to 2021). Please see the July 2016 “Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey – Final Report.”
Since we will call for new drawings for a new or renovated Senior Center, I proposed that the city hold a “Community Workshop” to seek comments and ideas prior to requesting new architectural plans.
After city-owned land (end of 60th Street South and 20th Ave South) was used to store heavy paving equipment, I requested that we fixed the damage by making it a small neighborhood park. The City Manager and staff created a small and attractive “pocket park.” I shared that such “pocket parks” could be an option in other areas looking for neighborhood improvements.
I received a notice from the Florida Coastal Management Program that the 2017-18 Grant Cycle for the "Coastal Partnership Initiative, the Florida Coastal Management Program" begins September 1, 2016 (October 31st deadline). The grant is for “coastal local municipalities: working waterfronts, public access, resilient communities and coastal stewardship... habitat restoration, park planning and improvements, waterfront revitalization…” I reached out to the Department of Environmental Protection and they encourage us to consider submitting an application. My recommendation is for funds specific to Clam Bayou efforts.
Regarding Clam Bayou, I shared/recommended four (4): 1) that we again reach out to our state legislators for funding to help restore our bayou’s health; 2) that we reach out to Tampa Bay Watch (or DEP, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, etc.) to learn about the benefits of “oyster beds” when used to clean ecosystems of pollutants; 3) get a status update from the Florida DEP on the Clam Bayou “Benthic Study” (I will share at the September City Council meeting DEP’s response to me); and 4) seek a partnership with Pinellas County for use of their pumper/vac truck when we know we will have a sewer water overflow (help prevent discharge into the bay or Clam Bayou)
When DEP came to the Clam Bayou program I chaired, the Director was very clear about the impact to ground water from leaking lateral pipes. I shared how some cities have a “Lateral Pipes Residential Grants Program,” where a city grant can be applied for by qualified residential homeowners. It’s a concept potentially worth exploring.
I continue to highly recommend that we assess how and when we can begin to utilize solar power on city buildings (existing or future developments). In my opinion, solar power should be a Gulfport priority.
I shared my support for providing the Gulfport Pirates and small level of support for their ability to seek a local field for their football games.
Due to some inquiries from residents, I brought up the subject of recycling. Gulfport has one of the higher percent of Pinellas County households that recycle – 44%. I recently discussed with the City Manager and his Staff the method of “single stream recycling (SSR).” At least for now, SSR isn’t feasible: 1) a large portion of our alleys/streets cannot accommodate the larger single stream trucks; 2) we would have to maintain two parallel recycling systems; 3) the purchase of a new required truck would be at least $250,000; and 4) often the paper is wet and mixed with shattered glass, making it non-recyclable.