New police stations, sewers that work without leaking, improving stormwater quality before it reaches Clam Bayou and Boca Ciega Bay, and an updated liveaboard marina: these are the issues Gulfport city council talked about when it talked about the coming year’s budget at last Thursday’s city council workshop. The city council began discussing how it would spend money in the coming fiscal year, which starts October 1.
“You only collect about $2.5 million annually in ad valorem taxes, and your general fund operating budget is about $10 million,” City Manager Jim O’Reilly told the council. The city supplements its budget with money the marina collects as well as money collected for water and sewer services. This year the city could also receive money as part of a BP settlement and a RESTORE grant.
Thursday’s discussion marked the first of several the council will have before approving a final budget. In that discussion council agreed to pursue the following as it went through the budget process:
• Stage one of marina improvements – ship store, day room, laundry, showers, computer room with Internet access for boaters, and a new office for the staff
• Ward Four Councilman Michael Fridovich said he had hoped the council would agree to ask the city manager and staff to come up with an estimate of what it would cost to complete projects, including loan origination costs.
City Manager Jim O’Reilly will spend “a few hours” (his words) compiling the costs of borrowing money sufficient to move the police station to 49th Street, although Vice Mayor Dan Liedtke said he did not support borrowing any money, even with a zero percent interest rate.
• Sewer improvements
• Mayor Sam Henderson championed the 49th Street Retrofit, which will depend on Gulfport receiving a RESTORE grant. The retrofit would remove some toxins from 49th Street area stormwater before it reached Clam Bayou and Boca Ciega Bay. Initially, the city asked for money to cover sewer improvements as well, but the grant would not cover sewer improvements.
“That [the 49th Street Retrofit] was my number one priority to use it for,” Mayor Sam Henderson said of the grant money.
These do not represent all the items council will include in the budget; the Gabber will continue to cover the budget discussions as they occur in workshops.