Aside from city staff, Gulfport Council Chamber was largely empty during a Monday meeting of council on September 20. With only a handful of public comments, and the final approval of the $15,506,660 budget, council wrapped up in a tight 32 minutes during the offbeat meeting time, held early to avoid a conflict with a Pinellas County School Board meeting.
Council finalized the approval of next year’s millage rate of 4.039 mils without any hiccups. Next year’s budget, effective on October 1 of this year through September 30, 2022, was unanimously approved on its second reading.
Councilmember April Thanos mentioned that she would like vehicle purchases out of the consent agenda and separated individually.
“For any vehicle, whether it be police vehicles, pickup trucks…those kinds of things,” Thanos said.
Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson confirmed that this action would be to consider what city vehicles might be replaced with comparable electronic vehicles.
Council approved the city’s continuation of law enforcement support services by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office for a contract worth $136,321.72
Despite the lack of public comment, the mayor asked Police Chief Rob Vincent about the frequent helicopter noises above Ward 4.
“We seem to be the waiting place for something to go wrong,” Henderson, who lives in Ward 4, said.
“You’ll notice in that agreement it doesn’t say anything about a [PCSO] helicopter, and I don’t want to get to the point where we would have to pay for the helicopter,” Vincent said. “The sheriff told us the other day he wants to put the helicopter up more. He wants to make the flight plan more active than reactive.”
According to the city, the Gulfport Police Department depends on the PCSO for crime scene assistance, fingerprint identification, evidence storage, communications and records management.
Council also approved a contract with an independent audit service, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC, based on the recommendations of the auditor selection committee made up of Councilmember Christine Brown, City Attorney Andrew Salzman and Kelly Schrader, the Finance Administrator for the City of Pinellas Park.
“I’m sure they did a good job of doing this,” said Thanos, who gave the sole dissenting vote on the contract. “I still don’t like the process. I feel like we should have had someone from the public on that committee.”
The three-year contract for the city auditing services was already worked into the budget at $38,000.
By the end of the meeting, this reporter was the only civilian in the room.
Overheard at the September 20 Gulfport City Council Meeting
“We basically have some suggestions for the Casino dock and the time limits. They don’t work for (A) people who pay to be in the mooring field…and (B) the people who have jobs…They’re enforcing the four-hour limit again, I’m guessing at the urging of O’Reilly, who hates us. We proposed that you can change the ordinance that controls the time limit on the dinghy dock…just remove the time limit on the north dock…or expand it to more than four hours for the responsible boaters who live out there.” – Rob “Stagger” Cox, Gulfport Marina resident
“I wanted to thank the staff for making American Express and Discover Cards available to use online. I know they were not previously in and [the city] worked pretty quickly to make that happen.” – Gulfport resident Margerete Tober