If they accomplished anything Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners and Port St. Joe Commissioners sat down at the same table.
After sniping over an interlocal agreement for months, commissioners spent 90 minutes poring over the document in order to agree on any revisions.
No decisions were made at what was a workshop.
And no agreement was reached on the two central issues: amending the interlocal to change how a fire tax for WindMark Beach is collected and the moving of the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency from the Gulf County Tourist Development Council Welcome Center, which is leased to the TDC by the city.
Near the conclusion of the workshop, County Commissioner Joanna Bryan urged city commissioners to allow the PSJRA, which is currently paying rent for two office spaces and is largely operating out of boxes, to move by the end of June.
Bo Spring, a director on the PSJRA board, said he would make a motion at the PSJRA’s meeting on Thursday to allow the move and hoped the city would be supportive.
When asked by the county to allow the move, the city of Port St. Joe balked for several reasons and asked the county to revisit the fire tax issue, which the city urged would be divided among the three volunteer fire departments that respond to WindMark Beach.
The development of WindMark Beach and annexation by the city resulted in the interlocal agreement the two sides signed in 2005.
The city sought an amendment to the fire tax issue almost two years ago, said Mayor Mel Magidson.
He said the county request to move the PSJRA provided an opening to again broach the subject.
He said Bryan’s assertion that the fire tax and PSJRA move were linked was “far-fetched.”
And he noted that the county’s response to the city’s request was to allow the city to collect the fire tax in return for conveying to the county the land on which the Welcome Center sits and the city taking over fire protection in Oak Grove, an unincorporated area.
“Now, those two are not linked to the interlocal agreement,” Magidson said. “I’d like to be treated the way the county wants to be treated.”
Bryan countered that she was not talking about linkage as much as “logic.” She said elected officials must be stewards of every tax dollar and it made no “logical sense” to continue to hold up the PSJRA move.
City Commissioner Rex Buzzett said he was the commissioner who broached the PSJRA move, in large part because he did not want PSJRA operational costs to increase due to the move.
He said the lease agreement for the Welcome Center includes several provisions the county has not fully followed.
“We have agreements and we are both going to have to live by these agreements,” Buzzett said. “Let’s keep working on these agreements.”
Yeager added, “We do have agreements but we haven’t always bound to them.”
The fire tax issue was among 15 items commissioners reviewed with attorneys, staff and the public present.
In general, there was much common ground on the majority of the 15 items, some remain to further fleshed out, better defined or amended in their entirety.
That included a guarantee that all users of the city’s water and sewer, in the city limits or out, are charged identically.
Bryan, as she did at the previous BOCC meeting, was hesitant about amending the agreement at all.
“The city wanted to annex WindMark Beach and agreed to these provisions,” Bryan said. “I think this is a big issue to go in and change this agreement.”
City attorney Tom Gibson noted that the agreement was likely most important to Bryan because her predecessor representing District 3 drew up much of the agreement on the county side.
“Much of what is in here is because (former commissioner) Mr. (Bill) Williams wanted it in there,” Gibson said.
Commissioners will be provided a revised document, based on comments made Tuesday, in the coming weeks to consider for a formal vote.
“I appreciate everyone coming,” Yeager said. “It’s been a productive workshop. Most of our constituents are the same. It behooves us all for us to work together.”