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."