CLEARWATER – By a unanimous vote on Sept. 19, the Clearwater City Council approved a “grant funding agreement” under which the city will give a $166,993 grant to Jolley Trolley Transportation of Clearwater, Inc., to subsidize its operations in fiscal year 2013-14. The city has been subsidizing the trolley since it began in 1982 because city officials believe that it provides a valuable service both to local residents and to the tourists who are a mainstay of Clearwater’s economy.
“The non-profit’s mission is to reduce congestion and improve mobility in this area for both tourists and residents,” a staff memo to the council explained. “The Jolley Trolley expects to transport 600,000 passengers for fiscal year 2013-14, reducing approximately 200,000 vehicles on Clearwater Beach. In addition, the Jolley Trolley has become a tourist venue that differentiates Clearwater Beach from other beaches in the area.”
The Beach Route, which connects Clearwater Beach with Sand Key and Island Estates, is a favorite of tourists. But fares cover only 23.5 percent of its cost, which is estimated at $658,709 for fiscal year 2013-14, and advertising covers 22 percent. The rest is subsidized by grants from Clearwater and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.
Three years ago, the Trolley started a “Coastal Route” that begins at Island Estates, goes through downtown Clearwater and heads northward through Dunedin to its destination in Tarpon Springs. That route, which runs only on Fridays and weekends, takes about an hour. In the upcoming fiscal year, Trolley officials expect to add Westfield Mall and Safety Harbor to their Coastal Route via connections through Dunedin.
A West Bay Route is being considered as a “natural connection to Clearwater Beach,” according to the staff memo. A seasonal express route between Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg is also under consideration.
Fire protection agreement renewed
CLEARWATER – In 1999, the city of Clearwater signed a ten-year Fire Protection Services Agreement with the Pinellas County Fire Protection Authority. Ever since that agreement expired in 2009, it has been renewed on an annual basis. On Sept. 19, it was renewed for another year, ending on Sept. 30, 2014.
“Through this contract, Clearwater Fire and Rescue will provide fire suppression services, investigation of fires, inspection of commercial, industrial and multi-family dwellings, and fire prevention/life safety public education to the residents of the city of Clearwater and to individuals within the unincorporated area of Pinellas County that is located within the Clearwater Fire Control District,” a staff memo to the city council explained. “The city of Clearwater has 6.49 square miles of unincorporated land located within the Clearwater Fire Control District.”
That means that approximately 11.1 percent of the area covered by Clearwater firefighters is actually in unincorporated areas of the county. Therefore, the county will reimburse Clearwater for 11.1 percent of its Fire Department budget, or approximately $2.2 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
Tourism promotion contract renewed
CLEARWATER – In 2010, with the economy in the doldrums and oil from the BP drilling rig disaster fouling the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater tourism was hurting. City officials decided to hire a public relations firm to market Clearwater as a tourist destination. Imagine Global Consulting, the company chosen for the job, was given a three-year contract which will expire on Sept. 30, 2013.
A Request for Proposals was publicized and 11 applications were received. A selection committee narrowed the field to four finalists, and Imagine Global was once again given the job. Under a two-year contract, the company will receive an amount “not to exceed $164,000 per year.”