At the May 1 Marco Island City Council meeting, councilors gave city staff permission to enter an agreement with Collier County Water-Sewer District to provide water at retail cost to Marco Shores residents.
The current water plant is in need of repair and past its useful life, staff contends. Doing repairs now will still require a total replacement in a few years at a cost of $3 to $4 million, cost-prohibitive in relation to the revenue the utility department collects from those customers.
The city acquired the plant in 2003 with the rest of the island's water utility, though it wasn't a part of the package staff necessarily wanted, City Manager Bill Moss said at the meeting.
When it was purchased, the city's consultant Montgomery Watson Harza evaluated all the facilities and their deficiencies, but the expenditures of upgrading the Marco Shores plant were left out of the Capital Improvement Program budget and no funds were put aside for it, Public Works Director Rony Joel said. Money for this agreement will come from $11 million dollars that was allocated from acquisition funding by reprioritizing projects.
As part of the deal, Collier County will sell water wholesale to the city and charge a plant capacity fee, similar to an impact fee, of $1.5 million for 179,000 gallons of water a day for the area. The city will also pay $1 million for an interconnect pipeline at Collier Boulevard and Mainsail Drive to gain access to County water.
The agreement, which is subject to change when it reaches the Board of County Commissioners, allows the county to increase the annual capacity cost to accommodate cost-of-living fluctuations. As Marco Shores builds out, water impact fees for new residents would cover the cost of increased capacity, Finance Director Bill Harrison wrote in his advisory to councilors.
Current customer rates will remain the same at $4.36 per 1,000 gallons of water, while the city will pay the district $2.96 per 1,000 gallons. Annually, the costs associated with this new agreement are similar to the current expenses of maintaining and running the plant.
Resident Ken Honecker asked if city officials had considered selling the plant to residents of Marco Shores, and although it is a possibility, Moss said, they would be unlikely to buy it.