The Cedar Key City Commission met on Tuesday, July 31, 2012, at 6PM, at City Hall. Attorney Norman Fugate was not in attendance. Two subjects occupied the evening`s agenda: the Florida Boating Improvement Program (FBIP) and the first of the City`s budget workshops. The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:30PM.
The commission approved Amendment Two to Contract Number 09016 for the Florida Boating Improvement Program Grant Agreement for the Cedar Key Marina Gulf Side Boat Ramp. This amendment revises the grant`s scope of work to include construction activities, extends the completion due date until June 30, 2013, and increases the compensation for Phase One to $559,300.
Before the budget workshop, Fire Chief Robert Robinson secured the commission`s approval to investigate a grant opportunity that, if received, would pay for additional part-time or full-time fire personnel and their training for a two-year period at no obligation to the city.
Also before the budget workshop, Robinson and Commissioner Scott Dennison announced that they met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives regarding Tropical Storm Debby`s deleterious impact in Cedar Key. They reported that these representatives were receptive to the city`s requests for dollars spent, or to be spent, for beach erosion, debris removal, and floating dock damages. Next Tuesday, August 7, 2012, FEMA personnel will meet again with Robinson and Dennison here in Cedar Key.
This July 31, 2012, budget workshop considered both the Fire Department and the Police Department; other departments will be considered at subsequent budget workshops. Chief Robinson delineated the aged status of his fleet, citing trucks nearly and over two decades` old, self-contained breathing apparatus thirteen years old, and other safety equipment beginning to fail. He cited the need: to begin replacing these items; to incrementally set aside monies for replacement of safety equipment as it becomes, and not a moment before, unsafe to use; to plan long-term for replacement.
Mayor Hodges directed Robinson to cut five percent of this year`s budget and present the revision at the next budget workshop. Commissioner Colson expressed support of measures to keep fire personnel safe and properly equipped even if that meant taxing or assessing residents. Commissioner Dennison made a motion to designate $5,000 in the current budget and designate it as a continuing fund to be used for nothing but replacing safety equipment. The motion passed four to one; the sole negative vote came from Commissioner Register. Commissioners requested that Mayor Hodges ask Attorney Fugate to research the requirements of imposing an ad valorem tax or assessment upon Cedar Key residents solely to fund this account.
The Police Department budget involved the discussion that cellphones, radios, uniforms, car maintenance, and training are essential to police, particularly when only one staff member lives on the island; the closest other Cedar Key policeman is thirty minutes away. Again, Mayor Hodges directed Police Chief Virgil Sandlin to cut five percent of this year`s budget and present it at the next budget workshop.