I hope you’ve found my daily updates on the Coronavirus and its effect on our Community helpful. As you know details are changing rapidly and the City has been working diligently to respond in the best interest of all our citizens.
The City is transitioning to teleworking and Council has increased our meetings to a weekly schedule. Teleconferencing is presently the norm instead of the exception and rest assured that even though the method of the Council meetings has changed, transparency and public input will be maintained.
City Staff has been reduced to allow for the essential City Services to go on uninterrupted, while at the same time allowing a segment of the workforce to shelter in place and serve as a reserve pool for back up, if one of the front line staff falls ill or has to quarantine. Core Staff is being maintained on site in all the Departments and our brave Firefighters and Police have developed innovative scheduling to continue to provide essential services and accommodate the guidelines for infection control.
Revenues and Expenditures are monitored daily and Departmental cuts have already gone into effect because of the expected significant drop in Sales and Hotel Tax. The Economic impact to the City has been partially mitigated by the 3 month reserves that were established in the past few years for all of our funds and the line of credit arrangements that have been in place, if needed, for times just like these.
Sound planning by your Elected Officials and City Staff have positioned us well to weather this storm. We are currently on an interesting journey that may test our patience but we will come out of this even stronger than before.
I would like to thank all of you who have given me input and recommendations to assist the City in making decisions that place the health and safety of our residents as our number one priority. Please keep the communication going and working together we will learn valuable lessons form this event and come back, in possibly a different but better way.
Stay Safe and Healthy !
Port of Galveston
The following are the latest happenings at the Port:
On March 17th the Wharves Board held their last personally attended meeting for the month, which focused on the status of the Port in response to the Coronavirus. Safety Measures have been implemented and the Port is working daily with the Coast Guard, CDC and Customs and Border Patrol, among others, to keep the Community, Port employees and Visitors safe and healthy.
Financially the Port is projecting a 1.5 million dollar/ month loss on revenue from the discontinuance of Cruise Activity with 37 million dollars of cash on hand.
Please CLICK HERE to view all the details, and for a comprehensive overview of the current operations and future priorities of the Port please CLICK HERE.
A 6 month Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU ) between the Port and Pilot Liquid Natural Gas is to be voted upon at the Wharves Board’s March 31st meeting. The MOU allows the Port to exclusively negotiate with Pilot LNG for 6 months concerning a long term lease of property on Pelican Island. CLICK HERE for details of the MOU.
City of Galveston
The City has been very busy preparing and managing activities due to the Coronavirus, as well as conducting regular business.
The following are just a few items that may be of interest:
Council approved a resolution asking the Governor to relax the requirements for early voting to expand voting by mail to anyone who would like to do so.
Council also approved moving the date of the May 2nd election to a future date. November 3rd is the most likely date but Council elected to leave the date open, for the time being, to be able to research other possible times.
Speed Limits on Seawall Boulevard, West of 61st and on FM 3005 have been changed to allow for lower speeds in some sections.
The City’s Finance Director presented to Council the 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report , to view please CLICK HERE.
Last week the City issued Orders outlining the details concerning the closure of Short Term Rentals, Hotels, Motels, Bed and Breakfasts and RV Parks. To view more specifics please CLICK HERE.
And, last Sunday the City closed all beaches, including the Seawall Beaches but walking and cycling on the sidewalk is still allowed.
Stewart Beach - Recently the Park Board initiated a discussion concerning the possibility of allowing alcohol at Stewart Beach. Following this discussion it was discovered that even though Stewart Beach was considered a no alcohol Beach, the Ordinance prohibiting alcohol consumption had been amended at some time in the past to allow alcohol at this Beach.
Until a recommendation is developed by the Park Board concerning the alcohol status, Council Approved an Ordinance returning Stewart Beach to a nonalcoholic Beach at their March 24th meeting.
Battleship Texas - At Council’s March 24th meeting a resolution was approved that supported the Park Board’s effort to develop a plan and file an application for berthing the Battleship Texas at Seawolf Park. At the April 2nd meeting of the Park Board the proposal is on the agenda for possible approval. To view the proposal please CLICK HERE.
Park Board Budget Changes - Due to the projected 35% drop in revenue associated with the Coronavirus the Park Board has revised their budget for this fiscal year. CLICK HERE for specifics.
With all our concerns lately we sometimes narrow our focus to ourselves and our immediate family and loved ones. And of course they are important. But who are really carrying our burden during these times are our frontline responders - Firefighters, Police Officers, City Staff and Workers are on the frontline everyday.
Recently there was a brushfire at the East End Lagoon and Galveston and other community Firefighters worked throughout the night to make sure vital structures in the area were protected and the Community was safe.
In any way possible, please Thank these individuals and for sure, please keep them in your Prayers.
Cultural Arts Commission
The Cultural Arts Commission was scheduled to present to Council in March their recommendations concerning their plans to select a City Flag and issue a Call for Public Art projects. Because of the issues related to the management of the Coronavirus these presentations have been deferred to a later date.
I’ll keep you updated on these projects once it is determined when they will be presented.
As you may have heard one of the Rail Trolleys is back from Iowa, where it was being refurbished. The other two Trolleys are close behind. The Trolleys were scheduled to be in operation before the start of the summer season but, with the current conditions related to the Coronavirus, this date is now being reconsidered. Hopefully we will hear the clank of the wheels and the ring of their bells in the near future.
Industrial Development Corporation
At the IDC March 3rd meeting the Board approved allocating 5 Million Dollars for the City’s matching funds for the Pelican Island Bridge. This project has been moving forward slowly but surely. With the City of Galveston, TxDot, HGAC, County, TAMUG and Port of Houston as partners, the project is getting closer to being finalized.
City Council Snippets
City Council’s Next Teleconferencing Meeting Is April 3rd At 2:00 pm
Congratulations To Beverly West, A New Attorney Addition To The City’s Legal Department
The Census Complete Count Committee Has Been Extended To November 19, 2020
And Please Don’t Forget To Fill Out Your Census Forms !
Congratulations To Dr. Calvin Buckley For His Efforts In Organizing The Palm Gardens Neighborhood
HUD Recently Issued Over 1.4 Million Dollars To Galveston For CDBG And Home Investment Partnerships Projects
Council Will Appoint A Recycling Committee Soon
Congratulations To Barbara Canetti And Carlos Rios On Receiving Landmark Status And Rehabilitation Tax Exemptions On Their New Historic Home Rehabilitation