Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gulfport cuts police dispatchers to save money

GULFPORT — By the narrowest of margins, City Council passed an unpopular budget-balancing ordinance that turns police dispatching over to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

After an hour of listening to save-the-dispatchers pleas from residents, three council members — Barbara Banno, David Hastings and Jennifer Salmon — said they had to do what the city needs, if not necessarily wants, and voted to pass the budget.

There was, however, a little sugar to help the medicine go down. Eliminating four parks department workers, which would save the city $47,877 a year by outsourcing mowing services, was scratched from the original proposal.

Mayor Mike Yakes and Sam Henderson voted no after their alternative — keeping the five dispatchers and raising water rates 12 percent instead of 10 — garnered no support.

Each council member took a turn justifying his or her decision.

"The dispatchers don't define Gulfport; community defines Gulfport," Banno said.

"I focus on numbers; that's what I do best," Hastings, a certified public accountant, said. "I stand by my decision, my research. I'm not changing my vote."

"Putting it off or kicking it down the road another year isn't going to help us," Salmon said.

The yes votes were cast by the council's newest members — all elected in the past two years — who implored residents to trust that they were doing what they were elected to do: make hard decisions in the best interest in the city.

But Yakes, a lifelong resident of Gulfport who has been on City Council 25 years, the last 15 as mayor, and Henderson, who has a reputation of championing the little guy, said they were elected to do what the people tell them they should do.

And tell them they did. In droves, Henderson said.

"It's overwhelming how many people have stopped me and have said, 'Don't do it.' "

Yakes said that he favors government by the people, for the people.

"What we have in Gulfport is by choice and not chance. We did not become 101 years old by being reckless and without a lot of blood, sweat and tears."

In other business, council members voted unanimously to raise the millage rate from 3.74 to 4 mills and raise water rates 10 percent.

. Fast facts

From red to black

How the budget-balancing numbers stack up

$622,359 Anticipated deficit before the vote

$110,843 Revenue from millage increase

$437,300 Revenue from water rate increase

$147,677 * Outsourcing dispatch savings

$73,461 ** Actual general fund surplus

* First year. After initial startup costs, the city is expected to save $305,000 a year.

** First year.

Source: Dan Carpenter, Gulfport administrative services director

Gulfport cuts police dispatchers to save money 09/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 24, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Estimated 5,000 people marvel at MOSI over solar eclipse

    Human Interest

    Packing pinhole cereal box viewers, cardboard glasses and curiosity, solar gawkers gathered outside Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry on Monday for a show that required no ticket.

    At center, Sophia Butter, 8, and Kristina Butera, both of Valrico, watch the sun through eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. MOSI will reopen after renovations on November 18. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  3. Tampa officer treated for knee injury after police truck, police SUV collide

    Accidents

    Times staff

    TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was treated and released for a knee injury when his unmarked police truck collided with a patrol SUV while the officers were tracking a stolen car, a police spokesman said.

  4. Waiting for the eclipse: 'Everyone thinks this is cool'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Hunter Holland came to school Monday with a NASA space T-shirt and solar viewers in his button-up shirt pocket. But he'd rather be in Missouri.

    Jayda Hebert (front, center), 11, uses her protective glasses to watch Monday's solar eclipse with her cousin, Judah Adams (back left), 11, and her brother Jake Hebert (right), 9, while with their family at St. Petersburg Beach. "We're skipping school for the eclipse," her mom, Sarah Hebert, said. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Second person resigns from Hillsborough diversity council after Confederate activist appointed

    Blogs

    TAMPA — A second person has resigned symbolically from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the appointment of a known activist of Confederate causes to the panel. 

    Two people have resigned from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the inclusion of David McCallister, a leader of the local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.