The Bridgeport City Council took no action during their Tuesday night meeting, but they did discuss hotel revenue tax dollars and possible billboard signs in the city.
Main Street Manager Tiffany Evans led a discussion about the Main Street Facade Grant program, which is funded by Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues (HOT dollars).
The goal of the program is to promote preservation in Bridgeport’s historic district by offering matching fund grants to business and/or property owners for facade improvements. Several council members spoke about how the program should provide more incentives to businesses that wish to participate.
The program currently matches businesses’ funds on a 2:1 ratio. No businesses have applied for grants so far this year, Evans said.
The council also discussed an amendment to the billboards ordinance after it was brought up in a public forum last meeting.
Mayor Corey Lane said he felt like there wasn’t a strong need for any amendments right now since the city already allows businesses to advertise on signs they own.
“There is currently no regulation banning advertising signage, so what’s the reason to even bring this to the floor?” Lane asked.
Councilman David Correll agreed with the citizen that originally brought up the issue that there should be more advertising in the city, but he feels like the current ordinance is adequate.
It defines a billboard as “an off-premises sign containing at least 128 square feet per face and that is owned by a person, corporation or other entity that engages in the business of selling the advertising space on the sign.”
A 2005 ordinance prohibited billboards within city limits but grandfathered in all billboards that had been previously erected under the condition that they not undergo any additional changes. It also states that billboards were prohibited for aesthetic purposes and safety concerns – they could cause distractions to drivers, and if a billboard falls down during a wind storm, it could do major damage.
“I’m not against people advertising their business, but I’m just not seeing a need for an amendment to the current ordinance,” Lane said.
An item that was on the consent agenda but not discussed was the police department’s racial profiling data for 2014.
According to the data in the agenda packet, the Bridgeport Police Department made 2,046 vehicle stops last year, resulting in 192 arrests. Of those 2,046 stops, 1,420 were Caucasian, 551 were Hispanic, 64 were African-American, eight were Asian, two were Middle Eastern and one was Native American.
Race was only known prior to the stop in 24 instances. After the stops, 221 searches were conducted and only 28 percent of the searches were consensual.
The council’s next meeting will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 900 Thompson St. in a special closed session. Its next regularly scheduled meeting will be 7 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 17.