Whether or not it’s election season, Gulfport City Council is always tons of fun. At the Feb. 6 Gulfport Council meeting, the councilmembers sat to discuss everything from issues at a local bar, to upcoming events in the city, to affordable housing.
After public comments, presentations, reports, and the consent agenda, the Council moved into voting on resolutions.
Resolution 2024-07 enters a contract with Robert Half International Inc. to help with staffing services. The City recently filled the finance director and two accounting technician positions. While this is helpful to the City in the long run, the long-term full-time employee who is tasked with training the new employees isn’t able to do their day to day job as well. RHI will staff people to help train and fill in as needed. The cost for the City will not exceed $20,000.
Resolution 2024-08 aims to deal with odor issues coming from the sanitary sewer system. Vapex Environmental is installing two air atomizing three-fluid nozzle devices that, without chemicals, will offset the odors near the marina and Town Shores. With recent repairs to the sanitary sewer system, inflow and infiltration from the ocean has been greatly reduced. The water that infiltrated the system diluted the sanitary waste in the past, helping deal with the smell. Trying to fix the issue with chemicals is becoming expensive, so the City will spend $129,500 to provide a more permanent fix.
As the meeting came to a close, Councilmember April Thanos (Ward I) brought up an issue that she continues to be passionate about solving. While her request was denied before the end of 2023, she once again asked the Council to hold a workshop to talk about options for affordable housing.
Thanos referenced presentations the council has seen previously from Jeff Brandes and Linda Fisher. Thanos has the goal of doing whatever the Council can to create more affordable workforce housing in Gulfport. Mayor Sam Henderson remained skeptical about this, saying that Fisher’s presentation showed him that there isn’t much the Council can do to fix these issues.
“People aren’t renting at reasonable rates,” said Henderson. “There is nothing to hold them to renting their available housing at an affordable rate.”
Thanos challenged this, saying, “Allow people to do what they want. Make it so anybody can build an ADU. It’s still not cheap to build, but we can give people the ability to do it.”
The Council decided that affordable housing will be a discussion item after the election. Thanos is up for re-election.
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