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Letter to the Editor: Marco Island Homeowners

Marco Island Homeowners

Background

Marco Island is approaching its 12th Anniversary as a City. During the last 12 years we have witnessed a number of decisions by our City Council that did not seem to be popular with many of the “real” fulltime Citizens of Marco (in contrast to those who claim residency primarily to take advantage of Save Our Homes). Several of the issues became quite contentious, most notably the STRP. Currently, one of the most debated issues involves the utility and water rates which has seemingly become an “us” (i.e. single-family homeowners) vs. “them” (i.e. master metered condos and condo managers) issue. In our most recent City Council election there were a number who objected to a “block vote” strategy that, it was argued, was orchestrated by the condos in order to vote in a Council

Member who would represent the condo owners. Consequently, as Council has ignored its own Consultant and appointed a UAB (Utilities Advisory Board) to address the issue of “fairness” as it pertains to the rates and availability of different types of water and waste water rates that single-family homeowners have versus that which the condos and commercial businesses have. Exacerbating the issue is the fact that we have witnessed over the last 2 years substantial increases in both our water/wastewater, as well as our utility rates with further increases virtually assured.

A number of people have felt that master-metered condo interests are overtaking those of the single-family homeowner on Marco, yet in terms of registered voters, more than 60% of registered voters are single-family homeowners. Federal and State Laws make a Homeowner’s Association, particularly one that would represent an entire community, rather than an enclosed or separate facility, very cumbersome to operate. As a result, a “Non-connected Political Committee” has been proposed to represent the interests of single-family homeowner’s on Marco Island.

Marco Island Homeowner’s Objectives

In developing a Charter for the PC, we have proposed focusing on the following objectives:

• To have a “voice” that represents as many of the single-family homeowner’s on Marco who wish to participate. While individual Citizens are welcome to speak at Council Meetings, it is all too clear that single voices or voices representing small minorities or groups are given the courtesy, but seem to carry no weight when it comes to voting. Existing organizations such as MICA and MITA leave many of us frustrated as they are either too limited a voice or don’t take positions.

• Ensure a “communication network” that can quickly “get the word out” on issues via such media as e-mail, newsletters, etc. While many consider themselves fulltime residents, it is not uncommon that they do leave for extended periods of time and do not stay in touch with local issues.

• Working with existing community-based organizations such as MICA and MITA, as well as trying to develop a relationship with the Chamber of Commerce and Marco Realtors Association, both of which seem to be “on the other side” as it pertains to issues affecting single-family homeowners.

• Have sub-committees who can research and comment on Homeowners related issues, especially those that affect us from a tax or fee perspective. (as an example someone indicated that instead of the proposed $6 million the City wants to spend on fire hydrants and/or a new pumper and additional firemen that there is a solution he knows of for $10,000!)

Issues to be addressed:

The intention is that the Homeowner’s PC would be a long-standing Committee to represent interested homeowners, however there are some immediate and relatively short-term issues that immediately come to the forefront:

Water/wastewater rates, especially the discrepancy between Homeowners versus Condos and Commercial establishments.

Utility rates, again focusing on apparent discrepancies.

STRP’s many problems, especially under-funding of the City’s ability, and especially each District’s ability, to pay the debt service on the Bonds that the City has sold.

Discussion has been held recently regarding a proposed moratorium on Impact Fees for businesses and other entities; while most would agree that pro-business positions are needed at this time, it’s important to keep in perspective the impact on individual tax payers (STRP Districts pay impact fees!).

2012 Council Elections; 4 seats will be put up for election. The PC will be non-political, however our Members could individually choose to support Candidates who might be more inclined to wish to protect the interests of single-family homeowners, rather than some of the existing Council who demonstrate a greater emphasis on behalf of Condos, Hotels, and other Commercial interests.

Getting the PC Started:

We are in the process of creating a Non-Connected Political Committee with the City, following Florida Statutes. Ray Seward is the Treasurer and Larry Sacher is Chairman, and we have 14 volunteers to be part of the initial Committee. The Committee size is important if, in the future, we should have issues that we might want to put to a City-wide referendum.

As a practical matter however, there is simply no point in creating an entity that does not have a broad base of support, as well as a substantial number of people who are committed to working on behalf of the Committee (such as communicating with Members, organizing Meetings, speaking at Council, etc.). In order to be effective we need to have people who are committed enough to help, be it in the form of research, communication, public speaking, etc.

We will not have dues, however we ask that anyone interested in joining the Organization make a contribution as we will have expenses for such items as: supporting a web page, maintaining a P.O. Box; flyers, advertising, insurance, etc.

Who is eligible to join and how do I do it?

The Marco Island Homeowners organization is for the benefit of single-family homeowners and individually metered condominium owners. Both spouses are encouraged to join and participate.

An excellent suggestion that came out of today’s meeting was to take advantage of the many talents that our Members have from their business/professional life as we have issues that might require their expertise. In your response, please include, in addition to your name and e-mail, your address, phone #, and professional or business expertise that you can lend.

We cannot solicit contributions, however we can accept contributions. MITA charges an annual fee of $20.00, which is a reasonable amount. Should you choose to make a contribution please make your checks payable to: Marco Island Homeowners and send it to:

Ray Seward, Treasurer

Marco Island Homeowners

P.O. Box 2134

Marco Island, Florida 34145

For additional information or questions please feel free to contact: Ray Seward, Treasurer: #970-0727; rseward@iplassolutions.com Larry Sacher Chairman: #394-6002; sachmo2@comcast.net


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