City celebrates first annual Girl Scout Day

By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS

February 5, 2015

The SPI City Council met for a regular meeting Wednesday. Girl Scout Troop 341 were also in attendance to celebrate and thank the city for the City’s first annual Girl Scout Day.

The Girl Scouts of the Laguna Madre area were recognized for their participation in the first annual Girl Scout Government Day. The girls were hosted at City Hall by a Leadership Team of Directors, department heads, and supervisors including the mayor, city manager, and others who gave them an opportunity to learn about the day-to-day activities involved in running a city. Environmental Health Services Director Victor Baldovinos said, “It is truly an honor to have such young leaders want to learn about the different facets of government.” Each of the Girl Scouts thanked city staff, presenting them with cookies. Girl Scout Zoie LaMure said, “I was, and still am, very excited to see how hard everyone works to make our city a beautiful place.” The girls spent the last two hours of their day brainstorming and discussing plans for the new city park and recommended that it be tobacco and alcohol free. Volunteer Tara Rios added, “I have to thank city staff and everyone that really helped facilitate this, and I feel like it really set a trend for what our girls could do in the future.”

Another important topic during the meeting was a presentation regarding Beach Patrol safety by local resident Vic Sprecher. Sprecher raised concern over a lack of funding to provide for necessary equipment upgrades and additional towers on the beach. Beach Patrol began in 2008 and has already made a significant contribution to saving lives on the beach, but according to Sprecher, the SPI Beach Patrol is the most underfunded Beach Patrol in the U.S. Sprecher added that for the past four years the patrol has functioned with an average of $116,000, compared to other areas that function with budgets in the millions, and suggested the budget be increased to $450,000 for the purchase of new vehicles, wave runners, towers on the beach, and for additional staff and equipment. Although the council agreed that nothing could be more important than saving lives, they pointed out that the Beach Patrol is funded solely by the hotel/motel tax and that an increase of that amount would require an extra $10 million in revenue from the lodging industry each year. Although it would be ideal to increase the budget, Sprecher stressed the importance of adding manned towers to the beach and even recommended that the patrol merge with the County Patrol which is well staffed and equipped. The mayor directed staff to review the information provided by Sprecher to discuss further options.

In regards to the Convention Centre Renovation Project, the Council directed staff to meet with at least two local designers to make a final decision on the color palette. They also decided to use money from the excess reserves to pay for said renovations rather than financing the project. Council Member Stahl wanted to make it clear to constituents that only the excess reserves will be used and that the required six months of reserves in the amount of $2.8 million will remain untouched. Councilman Alex Avalos added, “I like the idea of using the money that we have. I think it’s a unique opportunity for us to use the excess reserves. I say, save the borrowing for when you really need it.”

Following discussion at the Form Based Code Workshop that was held on Jan. 22, the Council officially directed the city manager to revise the existing Form Based Code to be reviewed by Gateway Planning, creators of the code, as well as by the Code Review Committee and ultimately by the City Council. They also approved a motion to direct the city manager to move forward with a plan to resurface existing sidewalks in the Padre Boulevard Corridor as well as to review the map of the SPI Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) for any amendments that need to be made.

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