This Commission Meeting was conducted utilizing Communications Media Technology in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order. Some Elected Officials and Staff members were present in the Commission Chambers while others were present via the Zoom application to respect the social distancing guidelines.
Elected Officials Present in Chambers:
Shirley Groover Bryant, Mayor
Harold Smith, Commissioner, Ward 1
Elected Officials Present Electronically:
Tambra Varnadore, Vice Mayor, Commissioner, Ward 2
Tamara Cornwell, Commissioner-at-Large 2
Jonathan Davis, Commissioner-at-Large 1
Brian Williams, Commissioner, Ward 3
Staff Present in Chambers:
Mark Barnebey, City Attorney
Mohammed Rayan, Public Works Deputy Director
Scott Tyler, Chief of Police
Staff Present Electronically:
Jeff Burton, CRA Director
Jim Freeman, City Clerk
Zachary Schwartz, Sr. GIS Analyst
Allen Tusing, Public Works Director
Amber LaRowe, Assistant City Clerk
Todd Williams, Information Technology (IT) Consultant
Mayor Bryant called the meeting to order at 4:35 p.m.
1. PROCLAMATION: Code Enforcement Week
Mayor Bryant will present the Proclamation to the Code Enforcement Division at Public Works this week.
2. CITY/CRA MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. PARK RESTROOMS PROJECT
Mr. Burton discussed the proposal of the CRA to pay the City for the installation of water, sewer, and electric infrastructure to a site south of the MLK Park Pavilion for the installation of a City supplied restroom facility; the amount is not to exceed $150,000. The City has allotted for $200,000 to build the restrooms with the CRA to provide the utilities.
Commissioner Smith expressed his opinions on the price of the restrooms and stated he believes the price is too high; he would like to see a copy of all the bids received for the new restrooms.
Mr. Tusing stated that before anything is decided upon, a rendering will be brought to the Commission for the approval of the design for the restrooms.
There are no bids yet; however, when they are available, the Commission will view them.
3. HABEN ROUNDABOUT CONCEPT
Mr. Burton shared the maps for this conceptual as attached to tonight’s Agenda. The map shows where the hotel is to be built as well as the location of the proposed roundabout in conjunction with the hotel. By purchasing the land from Bel Mare, it will allow the installation of a roundabout instead of a three-way stop. Staff is proposing to include an attractive water feature with the potential for a fountain.
4. PRESENTATION OF EMERGENCY CRA BUSINESS ASSISTANCE
This discussion is a continuation of the discussion of the information that was presented to the Board in May regarding a COVID-19/Emergency Declaration to assist businesses in the City.
Mr. Schwartz reviewed the PowerPoint presentation as attached to the Agenda. Three scenarios of assistance were discussed to include business utility bill payment, the payment of the occupational license tax, or a combination of both.
Business City Utility Bill Payment Proposal:
· Use commercial utility bills from the BS&A Utility Billing module, a listing of estimated water utility bills for commercial entities within the City was created.
· An estimate of water bills were created over a 12 month period—the result was a statistically significant sampling of business licenses joined to their average water bill.
· Out of approximately 725 business licenses, 380 were matched to an average water bill.
· The CRA could transfer funds to the City representing a 12 month average of each commercial entity’s water bill not to exceed $300 per entity per month.
Payment of Occupational License Tax Proposal:
· The CRA transfers funds to the City representing each commercial entity’s occupational license tax not to exceed $300 per entity.
· There are approximately 722 Occupational Licenses issued by the City with the average Occupational License Tax for 2019 being approximately $97.62 and in 2020 approximately $99.66.
· Of those 722, there are approximately 560 active business licenses within the City limits.
The Commission inquired how long the CRA plans to pay/reimburse commercial businesses. Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Burton indicated that the occupational license route would be once per year; the utility bills could be for however long the Board would like to make payments.
Commissioner Smith asked for more explanation as to why the CRA feels this is appropriate. Mr. Burton indicated that this program is aimed at helping businesses find relief to stay in business and avoid downfall and an increase in vacant land. There are two restaurants on 10th Avenue that have requested assistance.
Commissioner Smith is not pleased with the idea of implementation of this program. He stated that more needs to be done in Ward 1. Mr. Burton indicated he could provide a spending chart to show where the CRA money is being used. Mr. Smith is not pleased with this program and expressed several problems he sees with it.
Commissioner Cornwell stated that she would like to know what the needs are in the City before approving such program.
Commissioner Varnadore is more in favor of business license option with specific parameters.
Mr. Burton has no plans to bring this forward for any implementation unless the CRA Board expresses interest. Mayor Bryant would like to add this to tonight’s CRA Board Agenda to see if there are any Board members that are interested.
Commissioner Williams is concerned with putting forth effort into business licenses for relief but then seeing that it does not really do a whole lot to help the businesses and the business collapses anyways. He opined that this plan would not help a business stay afloat.
Mr. Burton said that if Manatee County moves forward with a program, he will collect information from them and bring that forward to the Board.
Mayor Bryant adjourned the meeting at 6:02 p.m.