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Gulfport residents suggest how to pinch pennies

Many respondents addressed the Gulfport-St. Pete Beach Looper Trolley in the survey sent to 5,500 residents.

PATTI EWALD | Times Correspondent

Many respondents addressed the Gulfport-St. Pete Beach Looper Trolley in the survey sent to 5,500 residents.

GULFPORT — Clang, clang, clang went the trolley detractors when the city asked residents for suggestions on how to balance the 2010 budget.

Eliminate Looper Trolley service, 24 residents said.

Reduce trolley service, another eight said.

Use smaller trolleys, three more said.

There were 60 suggestions about the trolley service in the city budget survey that was distributed in June to about 5,500 residents. The results were released by interim City Manager Jim O'Reilly last week.

The one-page survey was broken into five categories: leisure services, public safety, public works, community development and administrative services. Each category had several subcategory suggestions. The survey was mailed in water bills, distributed at the Town Shores senior community, posted on the city's Web site and printed in the weekly newspaper.

Residents were asked to write whatever they wanted in each category. The city got back 156 surveys — or about 2.8 percent — that had more than 500 suggestions on everything from buying Segways for police to regaining a grocery store in the city.

O'Reilly distributed the survey results to the mayor and City Council members last week after compiling and categorizing the results that were due back to the city on July 6.

O'Reilly said he was satisfied with the number of respondents to the nonscientific survey. He said the volume of response was not as important as the good ideas that were provided for the city to consider.

The survey showed that the trolley remains a contentious issue.

The Gulfport-St. Pete Beach Looper Trolley gets $141,500 annual funding from a Waterfront Redevelopment District Tax Incremental Financing fund, a matching grant of about $70,000 from Pinellas Suncoast Transportation Authority/Florida Department of Transportation, and rider fares, O'Reilly said.

Besides the trolley, other popular topics included recycling, the marina, the Gulfport Casino, garbage pickup, parking, building inspection and public access TV.

On garbage and trash pickup, survey suggestions included reducing garbage collection from twice to once a week and picking up recycling every two weeks instead of every week.

Many respondents also asked the city to expand the recycling program to include glass, steel, tin and cardboard, and some even suggested eliminating curbside recycling in favor of strategically placed Dumpsters.

O'Reilly said the city is studying the possibility of cutting back garbage collection to one day a week.

"If savings are to be realized," though, he said, "they would not be general fund savings but those related to the self-supporting Sanitation Enterprise Fund."

Both the marina and the Gulfport Casino were seen as opportunities for the city to increase revenue. Suggestions included increasing marina, ramp and slip rental fees. To help the casino generate more revenue, it was suggested that the building be painted and upgraded and marketed to attract more events.

To see survey results on the city's Web site, visit mygulfport.us. Click on "budget survey responses."

What residents said

in the survey about:

THE TROLLEY

• Eliminate Looper Trolley service

• Use smaller trolleys

• Reduce service

• Increase fares

• Sell ads on trolleys

THE MARINA

• Increase marina fees

• Increase ramp fees

• Increase slip rental fees

• Consider mooring field

• No mooring field

• Put mooring field to referendum

• Allow liveaboards at marina

RECYCLING

• Expand recycling to include glass, tin, steel, cardboard

• Reduce recycling to once every two weeks

• Stage recycling bins at events on Beach Boulevard

• Do away with curbside recycling and install large recycling bins throughout city

• Reduce brush pickup to once every two weeks

• Reduce brush pickup to once a month

GARBAGE

• Outsource sanitation

• Make it less expensive for special pickup

• Discontinue holiday pickup

• Stop paying workers for a full day's work when they don't work all day

BUILDING INSPECTION

• Outsource building inspection to county

• Have part-time inspector and outsource overflow to county

• Have building inspector handle code enforcement

• Make code enforcement enforce codes

• Ratchet back on code enforcement

• Impose strict fine for blight

• Reduce code enforcement officer hours

PUBLIC ACCESS TV

• Suspend GTV (Channel 15) for a year

• Eliminate GTV

• Increase resident access by moving it to a lower channel

Gulfport residents suggest how to pinch pennies 08/25/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 5:30am]

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