Gulfport’s new fiscal year may not start until October 1, but city staff has already asked city council to start thinking about the coming year’s budget. At the January 6 city council meeting, Gulfport City Manager Jim O’Reilly presented his council with a three-page memo with potential projects and suggestions for long-term budget planning.
O’Reilly told council he developed the memo based on one-on-one meetings with each councilmember as well as council-driven directives arising from public meetings. He said he hoped for council guidance as to which of the projects they did or did not wish to pursue.
“What I’m looking for tonight is, ‘Are we on the right track?’” O’Reilly asked council as they discussed how to progress with the fiscal year 2015-16 fiscal year budget.
Council has approved the following projects for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30. They include:
- Marina landside renovations
- Library renovation (paid for with grant monies, a special revenue fund, and the city’s capital improvement fund)
- Repairing and replacing sanitary sewer system^
- “An aggressive ongoing process” of repaving streets^
- Paving beach parking lot*
- New crosswalks and streetlights along Shore Boulevard*
- Walkway around the beach (south) side of beach parking area
- Replace docks behind the Gulfport Casino with floating docks. Funding for this project comes from a Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) (75%) and Penny for Pinellas (25%)
- Trail connecting Gulfport Municipal Marina to the Skyway Trail. Funding for this project comes from a $200,000 Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Florida Trails Grant Program; Penny for Pinellas monies will provide the remainder of the funding.
^Staff expects these projects to span multiple budget years
*Hinges on city’s receipt of Community Development Block Grant
The 2015 – 2016 fiscal year could include the following projects:
- Boardwalk on east side of the Casino (in front of O’Maddy’s and Salty’s), although O’Reilly cautioned this could take two or three years to find adequate funding
- Changing the skate park at Tomlinson Lake Park to a multi-generational recreation area. This could include exercise equipment, more green space, and/or a more extensive playground
- Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center expansion
- Beach renourishment
- 49th Street South stormwater quality improvement. This project would improve the quality of street runoff going into Boca Ciega Bay. Gulfport may not have to use city funds for this project; staff asked the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and FDEP for funding. In addition, the state legislature appropriated $500,000 for this project.
The next step? City staff will try and predict the future, financially, to forecast for what monies the city will collect that will make projects feasible. They will gather background information on each of the proposed projects, look at funding options and determine the feasibility of funding and completing them.
Gulfport does not have a budget advisory committee; citizens can contact city council directly to discuss their wishes, ask questions and learn more. Email Mayor Sam Henderson at SHenderson@MyGulfport.us, Ward One Councilman Dan Liedtke at DLiedtke@MyGulfport.us, Ward Two Councilwoman/Vice Mayor Christine Brown at CBrown@MyGulfport.us, Ward Three Councilwoman Yolanda Roman at YRoman@MyGulfport.us and Ward Four Councilman Michael Fridovich at MFridovich@MyGulfport.us. People may also express their feelings about the budget during the public session of any city council meeting, held the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in Gulfport Council Chambers, 2401 53rd St. S.