By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Coastal Breeze News asked the nine candidates vying for four 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. This is the third installment of responses; the first ran in the September 7th edition of Coastal Breeze News and the second on September 21st.
All but one candidate have responded. Responses run in the order they were received. The previous articles can be found at www.coastalbreezenews.com
My priorities for this city are to continue to provide infrastructure and services to the citizens to protect the investment they have made in choosing to live on Marco Island.
Despite decreased residential values caused by one of the worst economic downturns in our country’s history, we have maintained or reduced city taxes over the last two years. This was accomplished and will continue through a rigid program of identifying and prioritizing our needs which leads to controlled spending and strong cost management.
For this to be effective it is vital to ensure transparency in our government activities. Over the last four years we have moved from a local TV broadcast and a delayed replay of city council meetings to a live TV broadcast, and live web-cam broadcasts of not only council meetings but also the Planning Board and Code Compliance Board. I want to see this expanded to include all advisory committees as well so our citizens, if they so choose, can view the progression of issues from inception to completion. This can be done from any place through the world-wide web. Hopefully, this will lead to more input from our citizens and, most important, it will be based on fact rather than biased opinion or rumor.
If we can educate the citizens to the issues facing the city, then that will allow me to accomplish my most important priority of all. It is to identify the priorities of you the citizens. All the citizens; not just mine or the vocal citizens or the special interest groups, but truly all the people. I will continue to listen and approach problems with common sense solutions and I ask for your support to accomplish these goals.
I have NUMEROUS PRIORITIES to address when I am elected a City Councilor.
One of my first priorities is to ensure that the City Manager get approval from City Council prior to spending money in excess of his authority of $100,000, which has been subsequently reduced to $50,000. Namely, to rehabilitate the first floor of City Hall.
The original budget was $85,000 and the expenditure was $150,000, $50,000 above his authority.
The second is to insure that no internal transfer of funds to the Water and Sewer operation occur. Projects that are not properly funded with a specific funding source and approved by council are not to commence. This procedure was terminated in Year 2010, but obviously not adhered to. In Fiscal Year 2012 it was discovered by the Cost of Service consultant that $4.2 million was not accounted for.
A Task Force of eight City Employees was established to examine the City Water and Sewers books to determine where the funds were used. The 23 page report does not specifically state where the funds were used, but a solution was developed to recover the funds. I have a Public Records Request in with the City for that information, waiting for a response. My goal is to ensure that internal transfer of funds is stopped and City Staff follow the mandates of the City Council.
Obviously I am for Transparency in Government. The citizens have a right to know.
My other priorities are to ensure that the Roads, Bridges, Parks, Right of Ways, Street Lights and City uildings are properly maintained.
There are several financial reports that can be developed to keep the council and citizen informed on city operations. In most instances they are kept in the dark. If the reports have to be prepared manually, so be it. There are several problems in the financing of the Septic Tank Replacement Program (STRP) which must be resolved. Cash Flow reports have finally been completed with a 20 year projection, but that does not address the annual Debt Service Payment. Does each assessment area have sufficient revenue annually to pay for its Annual Debt Service??? I will address that if I am elected to City Council because I have been intimately involved with the finances of these districts.