Marco Island City Council recognized several key personnel at its Monday evening meeting and accepted a donation check from the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce for the annual July 4th fireworks celebration.
Executive Director of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, Dianna Dohm, presented the council with a check for $20,000 to help defer the $52,000 pyrotechnic display which is part of the annual July 4th celebration each year. Businesses and individuals make those donations throughout the year to help fund the annual event.
Officers Ferris, Marvin and Smith Honored
Next, the council recognized the efforts of Marine Officer Josh Ferris who assisted in raising more than $50,000 for Crossing for the Cure, a fundraising event for cystic fibrosis research. Ferris was assisted in his efforts by fellow Marine Officer Robert Marvin and fellow officer Clayton Smith. All officers received proclamations honoring their efforts.
Fire/Rescue Personnel Recognized
The final awards of the evening were made to Marco Island Fire Rescue Department personnel for obtaining milestones in their careers while with the City of Marco Island, and to recognize a 30-year veteran who is preparing to retire from the department. The six members honored account for 80 years of service to the Marco Island community.
Firefighter Captain Paul McMillan has been with the department for 30 years and will be retiring later this month. The department turned out in force to recognize his commitment and contributions as city council honored his dedication to the service.
Also receiving recognition were Captain Firefighter/Paramedic Dustin Beatty, for 15 years of service, along with Firefighter/Paramedic/Driver Engineer Albert Munoz, who is also a 15-year veteran of the department. Lt. Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Riegler and Firefighter/Paramedic Christian Holmes celebrated 10 years of service to the department. Firefighter/Paramedic Nick Varro was awarded his five-year pin for his service to the department and the community.
Senior Advisor Program Presentation
City Council heard from Ken Parker of the Senior Advisor Program of the Florida City/ County Manager’s Association. He provided the council with an overview of the program’s opportunities and the availability of resources should council desire to avail themselves of them.
Councilor Charlette Roman made a presentation last month as to how that organization might help to temporarily fill the city manager’s empty position, and provide guidance on how to find a permanent individual to close that gap in the city’s management team. Council will follow up at the next meeting to discuss that presentation.
Building Department Criticized
During the public input portion of the meeting, local roofing contractor Tom Moore spoke to the council regarding his displeasure with his dealings with the Marco Island Building Inspectors. He stated that changing inspection rules and delays regarding the process is costing his company and his customers’ serious concerns. Moore also voiced his concerns regarding the responsiveness of the building department to calls and emails.
Councilor Joe Batte inquired of Moore’s experience regarding the lack of response from city staff. “To not have a response to a local business man is critically important,” said Batte. Councilor Larry Honig also related to conversations he has had with builders voicing similar concerns. Council instructed the interim manager to report back to them regarding the resolution of those issues.
Council once again wrestled with the discussion regarding whether we were shorting citizens on the type of community they may expect. Councilor Howard Reed commented that he believed that Marco Island had been underfunding its budget for too many years. “There is no waste in our budget… but there is no money in it for maintenance and other expenses,’’ said Reed.
Reed was referencing items such as the conditions of roads, which have been a sore spot with residents over the last several years; issues regarding mold and space needs at Fire Station 50; the desires to build out infrastructure at Veterans Community Park, and how to address issues concerning capital needs in response to Hurricane Irma, amongst other capital needs.
Reed also discussed the potential flight of local talent to surrounding communities and counties, due to compensation inequities.
Reed would move that the millage rate be set at 2.200 per thousand for the temporary rate. State law requires council set a preliminary rate for the next year. That rate and the spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year will then be finalized in September. The final rate may go down, but in no case may it exceed the number set in July.
Reed’s desire was to get feedback from the community during the next two months and craft a budget and spending priorities based upon that feedback. That motion would fail, as would another three attempts at various levels.
The fifth set of numbers floated would bring a majority vote to set the rate at 2.030.
Marco Shores Water Project
That long debated project to pipe water across the Marco River and discontinue the purchase of water from Collier County was approved. This project will also involve the transfer of wastewater back to the North Utility Plant, allowing the closing and selling off of properties in the Marco Shores area.
Council debated and chose to continue discussion regarding the recent receipt of a stipulation regarding the city’s desire to seek its own COPCN. That amendment would negate the city’s right to seek redress for lowering the county tax rate as it relates to EMS services if residents approve the referendum in August when residents vote.
The city attorney and interim manager were tasked to craft correspondence to the county challenging that provision and would continue that conversation at the council’s next meeting on August 6 at 5:30 PM.
The binding referendum which will allow residents to vote on providing their own EMS and transport services (ambulance) will be held next month, on August 28, 2018.
Council may be receptive to allowing the county to continue to collect ad valorem taxes in support of the countywide EMS system for the first year. This would be in recognition of the delayed startup of a citywide service extending seven to eight months into the 2018-19 fiscal year, and then having it be abolished.