Port St. Joe commissioners set a 12 p.m. ET (noon) workshop Monday at the request of the owner of the sewer system which services the Gulf Aire subdivision.
The workshop will be held at the Commission meeting room on Garrison Ave. at Madison Street.
After years of considering a purchase of the plant and system, an idea that dates to at least 2014, and overtures from the Board of County Commissioners for grant money to facilitate the purchase, commissioners said they hoped for a workshop with more information.
Commissioner Scott Hoffman said the information he had heard about the condition of the plant and any proposed purchase had been all over the spectrum and he lacked the knowledge to make any kind of decision on purchasing the system.
“I also think we should hold this workshop at a place where there is plenty of room for the public to attend … I think there is a lot of interest in this,” Hoffman said, adding some constituents had cautioned him about being “bamboozled.”
In effect, the issue reached a head recently when city commissioners were asked by the BOCC to sign-off on disbursement of RESTORE Act funds.
The county earmarked $500,000 in its formal spending plan to disburse to the city as a down payment on the system.
Lacking sufficient information to assess the project, city commissioners balked.
The ensuing public discussion focused on the city assuming the sewer system, essentially handling the effluent, but not purchasing the plant and with no discussion pertaining to an exchange of funding.
The owner(s) of the sewer system have yet to address either city or county board in public in at least the past year if not longer.
The county would like to get rid of the eyesore of a sewer plant, and all the sights, smells and sounds that entails, a short distance from the coastline.
For city officials the plant and system, with nearly 300 current residential consumers and capacity for more than 400 total, would provide sorely-needed utility customers; that was true before Michael compounded the struggle for the city.
However, the questions for city officials have swirled around basic cost-benefit.
In part, that is where commissioners hope a public workshop will fill blanks.
The city has received no formal offer, or least not one publicly-discussed.
There have been whispers about $900,000 in the past, but neither city nor county has received a formal written purchase proposal that is part of the public record.
And, a presentation of the state of the plant by city Public Works director John Grantland in 2014 estimated the costs to the city of needed repairs and maintenance to rise well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Hoffman referenced that presentation in saying that given the only information he had to consider, he was unwilling to vote in favor of purchasing the plant.
Golf cart ordinance
Commissioners on Tuesday also held the first reading of a new golf cart ordinance, which folded in several existing ordinances while tweaking a few regulations and adding penalties for non-compliance.
The ordinance was also crafted with feedback from a citizens committee.
For the most part, commissioners adopted committee recommendations, including dropping a mandate that any requiring insurance.
Among the highlights are a sliding scale of fines and penalties for infractions, starting with a warning and working up a money slide until registrations are revoked for the fourth infraction or more.
All drivers must be at least 16 years of age, must be licensed and must submit to annual inspection and registration with the police department.
No one under the age of 14 is allowed to operate a golf cart.
Golf carts will be allowed on all city roads save Garrison and Long Avenues unless traveling to the next intersection (no more than two blocks) and may only be driven from sun rise to sunset.
Commissioners will hold one more reading before adopting the ordinance next month.