ST. PETERSBURG — Karl Nurse lugged a large poster board into a meeting room on the first floor of City Hall and set it on an easel as his colleagues on the City Council — new and old — took their seats.
The board, titled "The 'A' List," had five items: Public Safety; Jobs-economic development; Housing — neighborhood renewal; Education + Children's services; and Efficient delivery of basic services — in that order.
It's a list of priorities the council made for itself last year. And it's one Nurse admitted they didn't make much progress on.
"It was all talk and not much action," he said.
The council hopes to change that this year. So on Thursday afternoon, as it has done for the last few years, the council had a workshop to set goals for 2014.
They began with the old priorities.
"I would say that's a good start," council member Darden Rice said, looking at Nurse's board. "I think I would prefer to put economic development at the top."
Council members also had more to add.
Rice said she'd like to explore eliminating the $2 fee people are charged for paying city bills online. Wengay Newton suggested mailing voters a ballot about the future of the Pier. Jim Kennedy wanted to add advocating for Greenlight Pinellas. Nurse wants the city to spend more on marketing. Charlie Gerdes wanted to know about funding for the fire department. Steve Kornell wants to make sure neighborhoods are a priority.
City Attorney John Wolfe said the idea for the exercise is for the council to have a priority list that the mayor could take into consideration in regards to the budget.
Newcomers to the group said they were expecting something more though.
Council members Amy Foster and Rice said they had hoped to not only identify goals but to prioritize them, detail them and set up a process for them to be measured.
"We've thrown out a lot of ideas," Foster said. "I still have no idea where we're going."
After two hours, council Chairman Bill Dudley ended the meeting, asking City Administrator Gary Cornwell to relay the council's ideas to Mayor Rick Kriseman and for the administration to come up with its own goal list. Then at some point the lists will be compared, Dudley said.
Ultimately, the mayor will craft his own budget, which is due in the summer.
"This is our way to discuss what's important to us now," Newton said.
In other news from the council's meetings on Thursday, city leaders agreed to defer a discussion about the future of red light cameras until next month after Newton brought up ending the program again.
Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected], (727) 893-8643 or @cornandpotatoes on Twitter.