Tuesday, September 25, 2018

City Council Update


The October 2nd meeting of the Marco Island City Council saw members take up a number items on their agenda. Proclamations, updates from the city’s Tallahassee lobbyist, a passage of the 2017-2018 budget, a questioning on employee insurance costs, waived fees for permitting for hurricane related repairs and a discussion of how to have councilors better understand their roles in city government were all undertaken.

Council though was focused on hearing from their department heads regarding the ramp up to Hurricane Irma by city staff and the after event response to dealing with the damage and moving forward during the recovery from the effects of the storm.

Council Chairman Larry Honig would begin the meeting by praising the staff for their professionalism and planning for the event. He was joined unanimously by his colleagues regarding the response to the storm, but cautioned the community to be patient and prudent while the cleanup is underway. “I know the accumulated debris is depressing and in some cases dangerous,” said Honig in his opening statement.

Chairman Honig would advise that the city has chosen to “tag-on” to the contract for cleanup using the vendors as chosen by Collier County. That cleanup operation is underway and residents are advised to not mix domestic items in with the landscaping debris. Failure to follow that guideline will result in the landscaping debris not being removed. Residents should move that debris into the swales, but not block sidewalks or have the debris placed into the street.

In recognition of the financial impact on residents regarding hurricane repairs, council gave the city manager their nod of approval for waiving of permit fees for hurricane related repairs. That waiver does not absolve contractors from getting permits, but instead waives any fees for permits to be paid for hurricane related repairs.

Council would also approve a tax rate of $1.9797 per thousand dollar valuation for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. That includes operational costs to run the city as well as referendum approved debt and interest.

That rate would require a person with a home that is assessed at $500,000 after the deduction of Save our Homes and Homestead Credits to pay a total of $989.85 in city taxes this next year. That does not include taxes owed to Collier County, local school taxes, state school taxes and other special taxing authorities.

That $989.85 covers the costs of providing fire/rescue protection, police services, public works, parks and recreation, building services, growth management and administrative costs regarding the management of the city, which includes the city council and their related expenses.

Councilor Charlette Roman suggested that her colleagues take advantage of some of the programs offered by the Florida League of Cities to sharpen council’s understanding of their role. This was in a direct response to a recent employee survey which was critical of how council interacted with employees and department heads.

“I think that the evidence indicates we could benefit from these types of classes,” said Roman. There is no cost for these programs. All transportation, lodging and meals are included. The programs could also involve city staff.

Councilor Victor Rios suggested that we wait for a new city manager to be onboard. Councilor Joe Batte didn’t question the need for the program, but questioned the timing with the recovery effort being undertaken by city staff. Others also questioned the timing, but supported the concept.

Councilor Roman offered to revisit the timing of the meeting with the Florida League of Cities to determine a date more palatable with the remainder of council.

The next council meeting will be held on Monday, October 16 at 5:30 PM in council chambers.

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