Gulfport needs a new senior center, and it’s willing to pay three consultants approximately $300,000 to lobby for funds to pay for it.
At its Nov. 16 meeting, council unanimously approved drafting contracts with three lobbying groups – Hartsook Companies, Inc., Shumaker Advisors and Thorn Run Partners – to raise local, state and federal funds, respectively, to help fund the new center. City officials estimate it will collectively cost Gulfport approximately $300,000 for the three firms’ services.
“This is the first step,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly at the Nov. 2 Council meeting. “Retaining the ability – through lobbying companies – to attempt to raise the money. You are starting the project by investing $300,000 to build a $10-to-$15 million building. You are deciding today to spend money to elicit money.”
The contracts call for the city to pay:
• Hartsook Companies: $12,000/month, plus expenses, to raise local private funds, not to exceed $184,000 a year.
• Shumaker Advisors, Florida: $2,500/month, plus expenses, to raise state funds, not to exceed $34,000 a year.
• Thorn Run Partners: $6,500/month, plus expenses, to raise federal funds, not to exceed $78,000 a year.
Deputy Mayor April Thanos called the city’s funding of the three firms a good investment.
“If you spend under $500,000 to help raise what we now think is $11.6 million to build a new senior center, that is still money well spent,” Thanos said.
Thanos explained that the new $11.6 million building cost estimate comes from an engineer re-evaluation, which raised the estimate to factor in a volatile building supply market.
In related news, at the same meeting council unanimously approved a $35,000 contract with Caladesi Construction Company to repair the canopy roof of the Senior Center. The repair will replace wooden and steel beams in the front of the building canopy that have deteriorated from outside moisture, according to a city memo.