During last Tuesday’s meeting of the Port St. Joe City Commission, Andrew Rowell of GAC Contractors came before the group to discuss the delays that have plagued the replacement and testing of water lines along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
The project, expected to take a maximum of 120 days reached that deadline July 3 and Rowell sought a 30-day extension from commissioners.
Rowell said his crews were late getting started on the project and he had a hard time finding available workers, especially with the construction along State 30A happening simultaneously. Rowell said it was difficult to find anyone willing to work a 1-2 month long project only to be laid off once complete.
“I haven’t been impressed at all with what’s going on over there,” said Commissioner William Thursbay.
Rowell said that testing the pipes has been time-consuming and crews wouldn’t pour concrete until testing was complete, for fear of having to dig it back up. GAC currently has a 10-person crew and are bringing in small crews of 3-5 workers to finish the storm water pipes.
Thursbay passed a motion to grant the extension with the new completion date set for Aug. 3.
At the end of June a drop box was placed at the Frank Pate Park boat ramp to collect funds for usage permits.
While the permits are free to city residents, the charge is $25 for annual pass or $5 per launch for county residents.
Out-of-county residents will be charged $10 per launch or they can purchase an annual permit for $50.
Commissioners asked that locals picking up their permit still fill out the envelope at the ramp, but no money needed to be left inside. Permits can also be purchased at City Hall.
Thursbay said in the first three days that the box was up, the city collected more than $1,000 and 75 percent of the permits went to out-of-county fishermen.
Mayor Mel Magidson reminded the audience that the fees collected from the permits would be used to maintain and improve the boat basin.
“So far, so good,” said Magidson of the drop box.
Cape San Blas Lighthouse
The foundation for the Cape San Blas Lighthouse was poured last week at George Core Park. City Manager Jim Anderson said the moving process was scheduled to begin on July 14, weather permitting.
Commissioners were concerned that the moving process from Cape San Blas to Port St. Joe would isolate the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department, but Anderson assured them that if they were called, the moving process would not hamper first responders anywhere along the moving route.
Commissioners continue budget work
Prior to the regular meeting, commissioners held a second budget workshop with a focus on solid waste.
Financial officer Mike Lacour told commissioners that the existing solid waste contract with Waste Pro would be up on Oct. 1, but the city was currently looking at a $51,000 deficit on solid waste next year.
Last year, commissioners budgeted $73,000 for trash tipping fees but Lacour said they would burst that number by $30,000-$34,000 and recommended budgeting between $107,000-110,000 for the new fiscal year.
“The money has never been a problem until tipping fees went through the roof,” said Lacour. “It’s expensive running a landfill…that’s why (the county) is trying to get out of that business.”
Commissioner Rex Buzzett discussed whether the city’s trash could be hauled to Franklin County where the cost per ton was cheaper than Waste Pro’s $55 and Waste Management’s $51.
Anderson said a transfer station at Five Points Landfill that Waste Pro committed to improving was the biggest factor in the decision.
“The facility, if maintained, could bring in some revenue,” said Anderson.
Setting solid waste aside, commissioners also looked at general fund revenues, removing a carpenter position from their wish list that would assist in the upkeep of public areas due to lack of a Parks and Recreation department.
“We can’t continually, year after year, overlook taking care of our facilities,” said Lacour. “It will catch up with us.”
Commissioners also opted not to make any changes to outside agency funding. Those dollars total $21,000.
The next budget workshop is 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, July 15.