This week, we seek to answer the age-old question: Is 13 minutes enough? Well, for the Gulfport City Council, it was.
While the council generally meets every first and third Tuesday of the month, last week’s meeting was held on a Monday (Sept. 18). The meeting began like every other, but with a distinct lack of residents in attendance. Following the invocation by Vice Mayor Paul Ray (Ward III) and the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting began.
Let’s Talk About Taxes
The first two items on the agenda were both second readings of previously discussed items. First, the council once again unanimously approved the Ad Valorem Tax Levy for the upcoming fiscal year, from Oct. 1, 2023 to Sept. 30, 2024.
This means that the tax millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year will increase by 13.13%, to 4.0258 mills. For every $1,000 of household value, the homeowner will owe about $4.03 in taxes. The reason for this increase is because of a 14.29% total increase in Gulfport house value over the previous year. Overall, these taxes will raise an additional $6,005,315 in tax revenue.
“The millage rate for fiscal year 2024 is proposed to be set at 4.0258 mills. This represents a 13.13% increase above the rolled-back rate of 3.5587 mills. The rolled-back rate is the millage rate that will generate the same amount of property tax revenue as approved for the prior tax year,” the agenda memo read.
A rolled back millage rate, according to the Florida Department of Revenue, refers to “the amount of property taxes the property owner would owe if there were no change to the taxing authority’s budget.”
Gulfport Operating Budget
After a quick vote, the council moved on to talking about the operating budget for the upcoming year. Despite the previous discussion of this ordinance receiving multiple comments from the public, the only speaker was Councilmember April Thanos (Ward I). Thanos reiterated her concerns with the budget, and how it would lead to issues in the future.
“I only want to put one person in the budget for the Historical Museum [sic],” said Thanos. “If we keep the budget the way it is now, changes can happen with no discussion, and I don’t want to see that happen.”
Following this, City Manager Jim O’Reilly invited Gulfport Finance Director Cheryl Hannafin up to the stand, so the council could thank her for her work. After nine years of service, Hannafin is moving on as the director of finance, back into the private sector. Her final major project was to develop the working budget, which was once again approved, with a no only from Thanos.
Finally, the council approved a $45,000 budget for anticipated temporary labor in the sanitation division for the upcoming year. The City faced an increased turnover rate in the Maintenance Worker II position, which requires funding for filling the position for the upcoming year. This position is the person who is responsible for standing on the back of the sanitation vehicle to assist with garbage and recycling collection.
The Gabber Newspaper? We Go There
In 1968, our founder, George Brann, started The Gabber Newspaper, then called the Gulfport Gabber, to hold Gulfport City Council accountable. Read more of our city council coverage, and learn about our policies on reporting, fact-checking, and funding.