Mayor Rex Buzzett pushed his fellow Port St. Joe commissioners Tuesday to consider changes to the meeting time for the two regular meetings each month.
He received a bit of pushback from his fellow commissioners.
Buzzett has previously expressed himself no fan of the current noontime meeting schedule and said he would like to see a return to evening meetings.
“The public deserves at least one meeting at 6 p.m.,” Buzzett contended.
And, only reluctantly, his fellow commissioners ultimately voted to hold the first regular meeting of each month at 6 p.m. ET and the second meeting at 12 p.m. ET.
Due to public advertising issues impacting the first meeting in August, the new schedule will go into effect in September.
The history of altering times had been a source of public criticism for several months.
For years, decades actually, the Port St. Joe City Commission met twice a month, each meeting beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
Shortly after Hurricane Michael and after the arrival of high school basketball season, at the request of Commissioner Eric Langston to allow him to fulfill his junior-varsity coaching duties, commissioners agreed to move meetings to the noon hour.
“That’s why the meetings were changed,” Langston said. “I think the staff likes the 12 p.m. meeting. I like the 12 p.m. meetings.”
Langston also questioned whether holding meetings in the evening would actually translate into more public participation.
Despite urging from the public in recent months, commissioners have resisted reverting to their original meeting schedule.
Commissioner David Ashbrook said given the amount of work already being shouldered by staff, moving back to evening meetings would likely translate into overtime and staffing challenges.
“I am okay with one, but I am really torn,” Ashbrook said.
Commissioner Brett Lowry seconded that opinion, saying he was fine with one evening meeting each month.
“I think the public will thank you,” Buzzett said after securing the votes to move one meeting per month to evening.
Boat slip contracts
Commissioners suggested changes, but generally supported a draft of a lease agreement between the city and four charter boats that would like to moor at Clifford Sims Park.
Commissioners approved a lease agreement with The St. Joe Company, with an end date of Dec. 31, 2020, to use the dock at Clifford Sims Park.
St. Joe has contended it owns the submerged lands under the waters at the egress and ingress point to Clifford Sims Park adjacent to the marina, necessitating the lease agreement with the city.
Commissioners said last month the next step was establishing a slip rental agreement with the four charter captains.
The agreement establishes insurance and dockage requirements, including a slip fee which one captain’s representative termed, “reasonable.”
The lease agreements are aimed to provide a working platform for four charter boats which had previously docked at the Port St. Joe Marina, destroyed by Hurricane Michael.