During the Tuesday, June 2 regular Gulfport City Council meeting city’s Financial Director Cheryl Hannafin explained how city officials will ease residents back into normal operating procedures concerning utility accounts.
The meeting, held via Zoom, a popular internet-based teleworking software, allowed councilmembers to conduct business as usual.
In light of current social distancing measures, the City of Gulfport has made public meetings such as council available four different ways: Live stream on the city’s website, Gulfport TV 640 (Spectrum only); dial-in by phone and the Zoom app, which is available for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Virtual meetings will continue throughout the month of June. Council will reconsider in-person meetings depending on COVID-19 pandemic reports from the CDC.
City to Phase in “Cutoffs” for Utility Nonpayment
On July 8, the utilities department will take a phased approach to reinstating service “cutoffs” for nonpayment of services per normal operating procedures.
The last time disconnections were in effect was March 11. If an account holder was scheduled for disconnection on March 18 but received a reprieve due to financial constraints during the COVID-19 shutdown, this makes some residents potentially six-months behind on payments.
In order to help Gulfport residents, city staff drafted an Individual Utility Assistance Program.
Per an agenda memorandum, from Hannafin, the mission of the program is “to provide aid to individuals who are at risk of an interruption in water service due to nonpayment.”
Council will vote on the assistance program next council meeting, Tuesday June 16.
Budget Amended to Include Fire Rescue Radios
Resolution No. 2020-31 passed with an unanimous vote to approve a budget amendment to recognize proceeds received from Pinellas County Fire & EMS Administration.
The City of Gulfport received $10,705.58 to purchase one (1) 800 MHZ Mobile Radio and one (1) 800 MHZ Portable Radio. The radios will allow Gulfport Fire Services to connect with a single-tier all Advanced Life Support EMS System.
Board Vacancy Appointments
Councilmembers discussed vacancies for three open board positions.
According to the city council agenda memorandum written by City Manager Jim O’Reilly, and posted online Friday, May 29, “Appointments to the City’s boards and committees occur throughout the year based upon the terms and expiration dates (or as self-effected vacancies occur) as provided in the Code or Ordinances or Resolutions establishing each City Council appointed board or committee.”
Council received seven applications: four for Planning and Zoning, two for Board of Adjustment and two for the General Employees Pension Board. And a last-minute application for the Firefighters Pension Board.
As of Tuesday, June 2 the following applicants have been recommended for appointment:
John McEwen – General Employees Pension Board, three-year term
Josefa “Jo” Gonzalez-Hastings – (Alternate) Planning and Zoning Board/Local Planning Agency, two-year term
David Kanter – Firefighters Pension Board, four-year term
Staff is looking to schedule official appointments for the Tuesday, June 16 council meeting.
Council is accepting public comment and questions in writing prior to their bi-monthly meeting. Comments can be emailed to City Clerk Lesley Demuth or via phone at 727-893-1012.
Overheard at the June 2 Gulfport City Council Meeting
“Everyone just be vigilant now that it’s the start of hurricane season.” – City Manager Jim O’Reilly closing out the City Manager’s report.
“With regards to board appointments, excuse my French, but I have to call B.S. on this.” – Gulfport resident Margarete Tober in reference to O’Reilly’s remark that the city has no formal process for board appointments.
“My hair is too gray to have that conversation.” – O’Reilly during a review of the budget and the importance of Gulfport keeping their own emergency services.
“I don’t want to pit our residents against each other.” – Mayor Sam Henderson while discussing the current process of appointing members to current board vacancies.
“If you’re going to dislike someone, dislike them for who they are not what they are.” – Vice-Mayor Michael Fridovich during his closing comments.
“It was so nice to finally see some kids on the playground, it really warmed my heart.” – Councilmember Christine Brown during her closing comments.
“The Boca Ciega Class of 1966 donated $20 gift cards to Target or Publix to all 400, 2020 Boca Ciega high school seniors.” – Brown acknowledged during closing comments.
“Thank you Chief Vincent. I’m really proud to have you working for our city.” – Brown, in response to Gulfport Police Chief Rob Vincent’s online response to the George Floyd case and excessive force by police.
“In the midst of everything that’s going on, don’t forget to be kind to each other; we’re a lot more alike than we are different.” – Henderson during closing comments.
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