This past month everyone’s attention has been focused on “Flattening the Curve” concerning COVID-19 and making sure the City does whatever is possible to keep our residents safe and healthy.
As we move into May the focus now needs to turn to Reopening our State and developing a plan to bring our Community back to normalcy and return our economy back to being the same or more productive, than before the onset of the Coronavirus.
This path to normalcy has started with the issuing of guidelines for the First and Second Phases of Reopening by Governor Abbott and have been supplemented by City Council.
Recovering from such a worldwide traumatic event is no easy task. It will require a comprehensive Public/Private Partnership with the first step to allow people to return to work as soon as it is safe to do so. Retail, Restaurants, Hotels, Short Term Rentals and Bed and Breakfasts are opening as we speak, with certain capacity and distancing restrictions and the remainder of businesses should reopen in approximately two weeks.
Now the hard part begins. Businesses will slowly move back to financial stability and unfortunately some will not reopen. Economists say there won’t be a fully functioning economy again until people are confident that they can go about their business without a high risk of catching the Virus.
This has been an unprecedented time that has tried our patience. But through this all, the vast majority of Galveston residents worked together to set an example for the State and Nation and to bring us to the point we are today. For that I say, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You !
The end is in sight and if we are looking to have our everyday and economic lives back as soon as possible, it is now more important than ever to take care of ourselves and follow the guidelines that have been established.
Have a Safe and Healthy May !
The Governor clarified his earlier Orders Wednesday and proclaimed that all Beaches are open without restrictions. The City and Park Board are working to provide the proper supervision for residents and visitors alike and it should be a busy weekend on our beaches. Have Fun and remember to maintain distancing guidelines.
City of Galveston
Things have been changing quickly over these past few weeks and just when I think there is a lull in the activities, new projects appear.
The following are just a few of these activities:
Revised City Budget due to COVID-19: The Finance Director presented to Council, April 30th, a recommended revised budget for the the remaining portion of the 2020 fiscal year. This budget reflects a 7.5 million dollar reduction in revenues that is offset by Hiring Freezes, Capital Expenditure Reductions and an increase of Grant Funds. After these adjustments the City has a net shortfall of $125,000 which is still being addressed.
To view the revised budget in detail please CLICK HERE.
State of Disaster Declaration: On April 30th the Council Approved extending our State of Disaster Declaration to May 31, 2020, to allow the City to be eligible for Federal and State Funds and Personal Protective Equipment, in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
City Elections: A proposal championed by Waco and many other cities in the State is on the Governor’s desk requesting the approval of giving Cities a choice of July 14th as an election date. The deadline to make this decision is May 13th and if the Governor does not act on this, the election will be November 3rd.
Port of Galveston
The Port Approved a one year extension to the contract to build a third Cruise Terminal at Pier 10. The details of the contract basically remain the same as recently approved. With this extension the Port has the ability to use Pier 10 for any purpose, such as additional cargo facilities, until construction begins.
The Traffic Study associated with Cruise Terminal 3 will be delayed two months due to the Virus and is scheduled to be presented to the Port in June of this year.
When offered to receive a refund for prepaid Cruise Parking, due to the Cruise Ships not operating, 45 % of the Cruise passengers elected to keep their payments as is with the understanding they can apply those to a future Cruise date.
Because of the shutdown of the Cruise Industry and the total loss of Cruise related revenue of 1.5 million dollars a month, the Wharves Board voted to trim their budget based on the projection of no Cruise business for the remaining part of 2020. This will produce a shortfall of approximately $ 776,000 needed to have a balanced budget and can be taken out of reserves, if freezing hires and other controls of expenditures cannot make up for this amount. For more details of this budget please CLICK HERE.
To view details of all of these items and more, please CLICK HERE to review the Port Director’s Report.
You have received information on this in the past but if you haven’t filled out your Census questionnaire it is important that you do so. The number of residents in Galveston determine the amount of money that is available to our area for Community Improvements. The deadline for filing has been extended to October 31st. Currently only 34% of the population has filed. Please go to2020census.gov for details on filing over the phone, by mail, or electronically.
Park Board Budget
Because of the Coronavirus’ negative effects on Hotel Occupancy Tax and a subsequent drop in revenues projected for the remainder of 2020, the Park Board reduced its budget by 42%. The Board approved this revised budget on April 28th. CLICK HERE for more details.
City Manger Report
I know you have been cooped up for a while and didn’t even have a current City Manager Report to keep you company. Well fear no more, the most current Report is here for your reading pleasure, please CLICK HERE.
Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan
At Council’s April 30th meeting Catherine Gorman presented potential amendments to the Cities Protection and Beach Access Plan that have been developed by the Protection and Access Committee and vetted by the Planning Commission.
The City is in the process of correcting some inconsistencies in the current Plan and once they receive approval from the GLO on these changes, then our current Plan can receive a conditional approval and allow for implementation of the approved Seawall Parking Rates. Once final approval is obtained then the new amendments will be added to the Plan.