By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Coastal Breeze News asked the nine candidates vying for three seats on City Council the same question: What are your priorities if you are elected to the city council? The candidates, Jerry Gibson, Larry Honig, Ken Honecker, Paul Meyer, Amadeo Pettrica, Frank Recker, Larry Sacher, Wayne Waldack and Duane Thomas, had to respond in 400 words or less. Responses are run in the order they were received. This is the second installment of responses; the first ran in the September 7th edition of Coastal Breeze News with Larry Sacher and Paul Meyer responding. The article can be found at www.coastalbreezenews.com
I’ll divide the question into two parts. The first part indicates “my citizen-service priorities.” The second part is “my specific project or action priorities,” recognizing of course that one of seven councilors can influence but not dictate.
My service priorities are to –
• Exhibit a fact-based approach to all issues, encompassing analysis and comparison to similar communities.
• Listen and explain, i.e., listen to the citizens, to the voice of experience on the council and in government; and explain what’s coming and the likely impact.
• “Stay the course,” keeping Marco Island the most comfortable, pleasant, desirable and friendly community in Florida.
• Provide financial rigor – avoid tax-rate increases, ferret out budget alternatives.
My action priorities are to –
• Reinforce the idea that we as residents seek “calm enjoyment” of our property, including feeling safe and being free from intrusive regulations, noise, traffic, and criminals. Doing this takes a balanced approach (one of my skills), a great government (and we’ve got one), excellent police, fire and rescue services (we have among the best in Florida), and money (so, we’re back to my other great skill, the frugal management of someone else’s money through carefully vetted budgets). And we need to be proactive when necessary to preserve our peace and our lives – which means, in all likelihood, acquiring a second EMS vehicle for our excellent life-saving teams; and eliminating the ability of contractors to use vacant lots around the Island as permanent construction staging grounds for work on other lots.
• Reduce the city’s utility debt. I will work on this by reviving the “P3” idea (public-private partnership), which was prematurely abandoned. The idea is to persuade experienced utility executives to borrow money and pay for the privilege of operating the utility. Before dismissing this as folly, let’s recognize that the U.S. capital markets are awash in cash looking for stable returns from safe assets, and the U.S. labor market is teeming with executives looking for work.
• Begin talking more about, studying, and listening to the citizens on two large capital items, a new community center at Mackle Park and a replacement to the Smokehouse Bay bridge. We should examine less grandiose plans and a strong philanthropic push for the park. For the bridge, we first need to study the Florida engineering studies and then review ideas such as the tax-exempt conduit bond structure.
1. Real Transparency in Government.
2. Common Sense government.
Reduce the cost of Water / Sewer Bills. The best method to reduce these costs is to reduce expenses at the Utility Plants. While we are at it we should include all City of Marco Island areas of operation; i.e. City Hall, Police Building, Fire/Rescue Service Buildings, all Recreational Buildings and anywhere energy is consumed or used including all vehicles.
• Enter into an Energy Savings Performance Contract to meet our Sustainability and Capital Improvement Goals. This type of contract has proven to be successful with many communities; i.e. Cape Coral, West Palm Beach and many others.
3. Work to equitably remove or reduce Water / Sewer Capacity Charges that are currently included on the Water / Sewer Bill.
4. Eliminate wasting City Dollars by requiring that any project be properly planned (vetted) and how the project will impact the community.
• The lights on North Bald Eagle Drive. Did not get the buy-in of the Community.
• The Speed Limit Signs on Collier Boulevard & Bald Eagle Drive. Again did not get the buy-in of the Community.
• Improper and expensive employee termination policies leading to expensive litigation and expensive settlement fees (1 case = $100,000 + legal fees).
• Expensive remodeling of City Hall in bad economic times.
5. Continued involvement with other Cities, Towns and Villages throughout Florida through active involvement with the Florida League of Cities (FLC) and the SWFLC. Exchanging ideas as to what they are doing to solve related.
6. Replacing the Smoke House Bay Bridge in a timely fashion. Best financing choice is by Long Term Bonding.
7. The controversy over the Recreational Center at Mackle Park needs strong serious consideration. Needs to be by a consensus of the public, but a Senior Center needs to be a more prominent inclusion.
8. My personal goal is the formation of a Youth Advisory Council. Inspiring the youth of Marco Island to outline goals that will contribute to encouraging youth involvement and advising City Council. The youth of Marco Island are the future and we must invest in them to be prepared leaders of the future.
Incumbent City Councilman
488 Echo Circle, Marco Island, FL
Frank R. Recker
If re-elected to Council, I would continue to serve as diligently as I have attempted to do since first elected in 2008. I have consistently insisted on transparency and accountability in our local government and have used my experience as an attorney to question, analyze, and sift through all available facts on every issue. I fully appreciate we are all citizens of Marco Island who care about our community, but might have differing views on how to make Marco even better.
After serving on Council for over four years, I have developed a voting record that supports my re-election. For example, I believe that every resident’s guarantee of ‘quiet use and enjoyment’ of their property should not be treated casually. Council should only grant exceptions to this principle for extremely important governmental purposes, such as fire hydrant installation, road improvement, or drainage and water use related activities.
I do not support the use of residential lots for the convenience of seawall contractors, and to the detriment of those residents living adjacent to, or across from such activities. Although such might be beneficial to an absentee owner of the vacant property being leased to the contractor, it should not be at the ‘cost’ of homeowners living in the area.
I believe a careful review of our City budgets for the past four years reveals prudence and fiscal restraint. While everyone may have differing opinions as to spending priorities, I am especially sensitive to our primary governmental functions of providing a safe, secure, and beautiful environment for our citizens and families.
Major endeavors and expenditures should be decided by referendum, as was the Glon property purchase (Veteran’s Park) several years ago. Our community is sophisticated enough to make competent, informed decisions on these matters.
Another priority issue I have raised on Council is to explore the feasibility of outside, contracted management for our utility system. My inherent bias is an outside ‘for profit’ business entity is more sophisticated and experienced at managing such services. We should encourage the formation of an independent, elected body of utility experts to implement rate changes and other utility related financial matters. These difficult decisions cannot favor any special interest or citizen group nor be used as a basis to create unnecessary civic discord, merely for someone’s political aspirations.
It seems anyone who has visited Marco Island wishes to live on Marco Island. We have something great here that I see becoming even greater!
Frank R. Recker
My biggest priority, if elected to office, is to listen to the people. Having attended over a decade of Marco Island City Council meetings, I have witnessed Councils, past and present, dismiss citizens concerns and advice from City advisory boards. Big decisions seem to be made in the summer when the electorate is not here.
To rectify this problem, the City first needs to perform an annual “Citizens Survey”. A professional independent survey company polls the residents and businesses of the island with questions like: “How likely are you to remain in the community and recommend it to others”; “The quality of the roads”; “Land use and zoning”; “Have you used the park”; “Have you attended a city program”; etc. From this survey, an action plan is developed to address the needs of the people. A link to examples of surveys can be found at www.KenForCouncil.com on the “issues tab”. With this information, Council can spend its limited resources on things that really matter to the island and not on perceived problems or wants.
Another priority is real transparency. Televising a Council meeting is not transparency. Getting the facts to the people, whether good or bad, as soon as possible is real transparency.
A recent example of poor transparency is the STRP district financing. As far back as 2007, councilors, citizens and auditors have asked for cash flows of the STRP districts. Anyone with a little common sense and a calculator realized that the STRP district financing was in trouble. At the August 20, 2012 Council meeting, it was announced that the “STRP Cash Flow Report” was now available and that some of the STRP districts could not cover all their debt. The report was dated October 1, 2011. Not one Councilor asked staff why it took an extra 11 months to get the report out. Now it is too late to make any changes to the STRP financing options.
I am running for Council because I think I can make a difference. I have background in engineering, project management and finance. I have over a decade of attendance at Council meetings. I am ready to serve on day one.
PO Box 1086, Marco Island, FL