GULFPORT — The city hopes that about 1,200 residents of an unincorporated area south of Gulfport Boulevard and just east of South Pasadena would like to become residents of Gulfport.
The final arbiter of the city's proposed annexation of the 193-acre unincorporated area will be its residents, who may be asked to vote on the proposal in the Nov. 3 election.
But before that, the city plans to survey those affected. "They may not be interested," Interim City Manager Jim O'Reilly said.
The proposed annexation area encompasses about 600 homes and condo units that lie west of 64th Street and a bridge to South Pasadena.
The area includes the Sea Ketch Condominiums, Gulf View Condominiums, Pelican Creek Condominiums, and the Pasadena Golf Course Apartments along the south side of Gulfport Boulevard and across from Stetson University College of Law, as well as a single-family area west of the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club and east of the city of South Pasadena.
The City Council will spend $7,860 to mail informational fliers and conduct a telephone survey of residents in the target area.
Property taxes would drop if the annexation occurs, but O'Reilly admits that the city's franchise and utility fees would largely offset that savings.
The advantage for residents of the targeted unincorporated area lies with the full range of services provided by Gulfport to its residents.
Gulfport has its own police department, fire department, library, recreation department, full-service building and planning department, and city-run utilities.
"We would like to amicably offer our services," O'Reilly said Friday. "We are a full-service city and offer a level of accountability and accessibility that is not easily obtained from the county."
Gulfport would gain additional property taxes and franchise and utility fees, as well as increased use of its library and recreation programs.
O'Reilly estimated that the city's revenues would jump $1-million.
Another advantage for Gulfport, if the annexation were approved, is that the city would become contiguous to South Pasadena.
That city contracts with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services but might be interested in getting a competing bid from the Gulfport Police Department.
The city briefly considered pursuing annexation of the area in 2006 but abandoned the effort when annexation requirements were toughened.
Annexation is not a simple process and is subject to approval by Pinellas County as well as voters in the target area.
If the response to the initial survey is positive, O'Reilly said the city would then hold a series community meetings to further discuss the benefits of Gulfport citizenship with the residents.
Next, the city would have to present an "urban services report" to the County Commission. By June, a final address list and boundaries must be submitted to the supervisor of elections.
Written notice of the city's intent must also be mailed to each resident and property owner in the proposed annexation area.
An ordinance authorizing the referendum question must be approved by the City Council before the July 6 deadline to get on the November ballot.