This has been an interesting last few months and returning to normal is a work in progress. The Pandemic has been devastating medically and economically and the future is still in question for many of us
History has taught us that there can be positive outcomes from very negative events when lessons are learned and applied to future hardship.
As I have interfaced with many City officials, residents and business owners over these past few months, conversations usually come around to what worked well and what could be done differently in the future.
One constructive result is that the City and related entities have had time to look at their operations from a different perspective.
At the Port they were looking forward to a record setting year with net revenues at a level that's unprecedented but now they realize, even more than before, the need for diversification of Port activities. Now that the Cruise Industry has experienced such a shutdown, Cargo is so important to maintain a balanced bottom line.
The Park Board was experiencing visitors, requests for accommodations and events at record levels. Following the onset of CoVid-19 the need to develop the higher valued tourist, who stays longer and wants to visit the many other dining, shopping and entertainment activities on the Island in addition to the Beach, is more apparent than ever.
This year the City was experiencing one of their most stable financial times in many years with an unprecedented number of infrastructure improvement projects in the works. CoVid-19 has brought to the City’s attention the importance of their current policies of maintaining 90 day reserves for most of their funds even when it isn’t mandated.
And needless to say, the building of stronger relationships and communication between the State and Cities is a necessity, while realizing that one size does not necessarily fit all, in a State as diversified as Texas.
This reopening will last for a while and as we move forward “ Lessons Learned “ will be invaluable for the near and distant future.
Have a Wonderful beginning of the Summer and a Productive Reopening.
Short Term Rentals - Hotel Tax Collections
At Council’s May 28th Workshop a Draft Ordinance concerning the registration and payment of Local and State Hotel Occupancy Tax ( HOT ), by advertising platforms that manage payments, was discussed. This Ordinance, if approved by Council at a later date, would mandate that the platforms remit to the City their share of local HOT, which should increase the total amount collected annually.
This item will be a Workshop Item again at Council’s June 25th Meeting and this will also give time to receive further input from stakeholders.
Council approved unanimously at their May meeting the use of Federal Funds in the amount $300,000 to provide free voluntary testing for Restaurant and Grocery Store employees. These funds are Community Development Block Grant ( CDBG ) monies which are designed to support those that meet low to moderate Income ( LMI ) requirements.
To view more specifics on the testing program please CLICK HERE.
At Council’s June 25th Meeting funding for Mortgage and Rental assistance for LMI individuals will be on the Agenda for discussion and possible action.
Received: National Endowment of the Arts Grant to Develop, with the Park Board, a Cultural Arts Calendar.
Deferred:Determination of Arts and Historic Preservation Allocation Policies in light of reduced funding due to CoVid-19 to the AHP Board.
Appointed: District 2 residents John Manlove to the Galveston Redevelopment Authority and Cody Wright and Susan Syler to the Recycling Ad Hoc Committee.
Approved: Funding for Beach Surveys to document the status of our Beaches for sand replacement in case of a Hurricane.
Opened:Community Pool beginning a Phased Reopening on June 3rd.
Port of Galveston
The Wharves Board held their first in person ( with social distancing ) meeting on May 26th.
The following are just a few of the items discussed at that meeting.
West End Cargo Corridor: With the temporary discontinuation of the Cruise Business, the Port has fast tracked their plans to expand cargo business on the West End of the Port. In response to this, approximately 150 million dollars of Federal, State and other related grants have been submitted to add over 50 acres of cargo space and associated infrastructure and internal roadway improvements to the Port from 33rd to 53rd Street.
City Council Approved a resolution to support these grant requests at their May 28th meeting.
Ship Calls: Compared to last year Cargo Ship Calls Are Down 5.3% and Cruise Ship calls are down 17.9%. The one positive has been the Lay Dockage Ship Calls that are up 3.4 %. All of this has added up to a 21.4% decrease of net income at the end of April, as compared to last year.
Cruise Lines: At this time all of the Cruise Lines that sail out of Galveston have tentatively projected to be sailing again, in some fashion, by August 1st. This of course depends on the status of the CDC’s “No Sail Order”.
Galveston will be one of the first Ports to open for the Cruise Lines because of the Port being a “Drive To” destination, as compared to other US Ports that require airline connections. As we have seen these timelines are very flexible and are subject to change.
To view all of these items and much more in the Port Director’s Report please CLICK HERE.
Park Board Appointments: At Council’s June 25th Meeting, appointments to three positions on the Park Board will take place. All three of these positions are open to reappointments of the existing members but new appointments are always a possibility. The deadline for applications with the City Secretary’s office is June 5th and interviews of the applicants by City Council will take place on June 11th.
The Park Board is one of the premier Boards on the Island and if you have an interest in having a say in Galveston’s future, as it applies to our beaches, events and marketing, then this is a prime opportunity to have your voice heard.
Battleship Texas: Due to the need of more time to work with the Port of Houston to provide a space for the Battleship at Seawolf Park the Park Board has not filed an application for sponsoring the Battleship Texas. Recently though, a group representing the Galveston Yacht Basin has filed an application to host the Ship at their facilities. The Battleship’s Foundation will be making decisions on their home in the near future.
Travel Survey: At the Park Board’s May 19th meeting the results of a travel survey, commissioned by the Board, was presented. The results were designed to measure the public’s view of different forms of travel following the CoVid-19 Pandemic. The results are very interesting especially when it comes to travel to Galveston. To view the specifics please CLICK HERE.
City Council Snippets
Federal Forecasters Predict An Above Average Hurricane Season This Year
City Issues Support Letter For The Rehabilitation of Sandpiper Cove
Moody Foundation Awards The City A $150,000 Grant For Updated Technology Equipment For First Responders
Council Approves Maintaining A Status Quo on Special Property Tax Exemptions
Moody Early Childhood Center Is Now Accepting Pre School Enrollment For All Children
City Has Scheduled A Hurricane Preparedness Meeting For June 3rd
City Redistributes Free Parking Space Throughout The Northside Of The Seawall