By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
Wednesday afternoon, prior to the City Council regular meeting, Mayor Barry Patel held his annual State of the Island address. Mayor Pro Tem Alita Bagley introduced the Mayor, who spoke to citizens about the past year on the Island, where the City is today, and where he thinks it should go in the future.
In regards to finance, the Mayor commended the City for being in their 25th year receiving the highest accolades in finance and thanking them for their precision in management of every dollar. Headed by Finance Director Rodrigo Gimenez, the City was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award by the Government Finance Association of the United States and Canada. Thanks to the new ordinance regulating short-term rentals on the Island, Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) revenue increased over the past year, along with sales tax, when compared with previous years. In addition, the Mayor noted that 2015 was an exemplary year in terms of success with securing grant money.
He moved on to discuss the Convention and Visitors Bureau, addressing concerns over leadership in the past four years which saw four directors. He expressed confidence in current CVB Director Keith Arnold and his team. In addition, he extended a heartfelt thanks to Assistant City Manager Darla Jones who brought in the Convention Centre exterior renovation project on time and under budget by about $2 million — from the expected $4.8 million to only $2.9 million. Coming up, the City plans to focus on the second phase of Convention Centre improvements including interior renovations and amenities.
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