Marco to study a city takeover of electricity services

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Until Monday, there had been two months of talk about a Marco Island city takeover of electricity services. Now there’s some action.

The Marco Island City Council decided 6-1 to form an ad hoc committee and hire a consultant to study potential benefits of city-owned electricity during its all-day budget meeting.

Currently, Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) provides electricity to the island. City officials said LCEC’s performance wasn’t a concern, but rather the cooperative’s prices.

“LCEC has done a great job for the city of Marco Island,” Marco Public Works Director Rony Joel said. “I don’t think there’s anybody disputing that. The issue is, can they do it at the lowest cost?”

City reports state Marco and its residents could realize a cost savings following a takeover that would allow for additional city revenue without an increase in electricity rates.

LCEC has countered that no such savings would occur and rates would likely rise if the cooperative lost control of the utility, either through a buyout or condemnation.

“I am amazed at the ignorance of staff and whoever put together this report,” said Curtis Bostick, an LCEC board member and Marco resident during the meeting. “This misinformation in there is astounding.”

City Council indicated strong support for the takeover study. Councilman Wayne Waldack said simply accepting LCEC’s position would be akin to trusting “a fox guarding a henhouse.”

“We have an obligation to look, listen and analyze,” Councilman Frank Recker said.

Councilman Chuck Kiester dissented in the vote, saying the idea of owning an electric utility was too much right now.

“The city hasn’t absorbed all it can with the water and sewer utility yet,” Kiester said, referring to the utility the city purchased five years ago and is in the process of expanding through the septic tank replacement program.

Marco will solicit citizens for the electricity committee through advertisements within the next week, City Spokeswoman Lisa Douglass said.

Although Monday’s action made a city takeover of electricity services officially a long-term option, council spent most of its meeting tackling more immediate priorities.

Marco’s spending will increase by about 10 percent next year over its current general fund budget, according to direction council gave staff. This decision comes despite a reduction in the island’s property values, which has resulted in an almost 13 percent cumulative decrease since 2006, according to City Finance Director Bill Harrison.

City staff will present three broad policy options to council: the first will rely on increased property taxes to make up the revenue shortfall, the second on a special assessment for city fire services and the third some combination of the first two.

Those revenue-generating options will allow for a 5.3 percent increase in city spending, the maximum allowed under the spending cap provision of the city charter. The spending cap limits general fund expenditures to an increase of 3 percent plus a cost of living adjustment, which this year is 2.3 percent.

The remainder of the 10 percent spending increase will come from another decision council made Monday: to create an island-wide stormwater utility for drainage and water quality improvements. According to a report prepared by Joel, the stormwater utility will raise about $800,000 to $1 million each year through an assessment. The average cost to a homeowner would be $6 per month to be paid on water and sewer bills, Joel estimated.

Previously, stormwater maintenance had been a general fund expenditure subject to the spending cap, but Monday’s action would remove it, Harrison said. In the current budget, $500,000 is listed for stormwater maintenance, and that money would be freed up for other uses next year.

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Comments » 16

Fossil writes:

“We have an obligation to look, listen and analyze,” Councilman Frank Recker said. Frank, you can "look, listen all you want, but if your information is being provided by John Arceri, City Staff or some City procured consultant, your analysis will be predictable. I always thought as a trained attorney and medical professional you might make a difference. I was wrong, your ability to smell a con is no better then that of your proceeding or current collegues on the Council. Or could it be that you and your collegues share the same agenda as the staff does? Is the con being made on the citizens of Marco Island? What is it Frank? Are you being conned too or are you part of the con? As for Mr. Bostick's "amazment" at the ignorance of staff and their ability to generate "misinformation" to promote an agenda, where have you been? 3,000 of your fellow citizens knew this to be true and voted for change during the last election, unfortunately they were the minority. Which candidates did you support Mr. Bostick?

lauralbi1 writes:

Fossill: Just to be objective and put you in your "proverbial" place, Mr. Arceri is one of Florida's (not just SW Florida) foremost experts on Power, Power Utilities and the Distribution of Power. I took the time to review his resume and it may surprise you to know that Utilities throughout the State of Florida and New York seek his expertise on a regular basis. He also testifies as an expert on this subject in Courts, where his credentials are scrutinized on a regular basis.
But this is NOT about Mr. Arceri, is it ?? Why do YOU think LCEC is so opposed to Marco Island leaving LCEC ?? You are the paranoid, anti-everything person. Come on, give an answer !!
The answer is that Marco Island subsidizes the entire LCEC distribution system and pricing structure. We are their "Cash Cow". LCEC was formed to provide power to rural areas, which they do. Do you consider Marco Island a rural area ?? Also, LCEC, as a Cooperative, is prohibited from competitivelu buying and bidding on wholesale power to provide to it's customers. This bidding process results in tremendous cost savings in the cost of power.
Nothing wrong with doing a study and analysis. I suggest you do the same.
Ed Issler

Avenger writes:

Well, it has been proven over and over again that Issler often posts fiction and calls it fact. After attending the LCEC presentation the other night, I’m more convinced than ever that Issler’s statements regarding LCEC have no bearing on reality.

I also searched the internet based on Issler’s assertions about Arceri, but found nothing to support his claim that Arceri is one of “Florida's foremost experts” who testifies in court all the time about utilities.

I did find this interesting tidbit at the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information:

May 2002: John Arceri ran unopposed for the position of Marco Island City Council. In between the deadline for filing to run in January and the first day of his term (March), Arceri met with key members of the city government outside the Sunshine. Although legal, the clandestine meetings raised concerns among local access advocates.

Avenger writes:

Also, more than four months ago, Issler posted this on the Marco News website:

"Avenger: It took the State Attorney's Office awhile to release the CD and they had to send it to Kiester's Attorney before releasing it to the Public. Please be assured, the CD has arrived and the e-mails are being printed, not only by me, but by Marco Eagle and NDN reporters. We will all see what this was about in the coming days. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I am a man of my word. Ed Issler"
(#21 Posted by lauralbi1 on February 8, 2008 at 2:06 p.m.)

I’m guessing those emails to which Issler refers turned out to be pretty innocuous; and all Issler’s drama was much ado about nothing, just like the value of Issler’s “word.”

marcoredeagle writes:

Article text ...
“LCEC has done a great job for the city of Marco Island,” Marco Public Works Director Rony Joel said. “I don’t think there’s anybody disputing that. The issue is, can they do it at the lowest cost?”
Observation ...
If you believe Marco will have the lowest cost then ... "there is a X born every minute" ... Barnum

lauralbi1 writes:

If my memory serves me correctly, wasn't Mr. Kiester convicted of violations of the Sunshine Law?? The only City Councilor so convicted in the State (I think) !!! The CD's are available to anyone who wants them at City Hall or from the State Attorney's office. By the way Avenger, I hope you have the same collection of quotes, and postings from the likes of Butch Neylon, like I do, just in case we need them in the future.
But enough about the ranting and raving of people that do not know what they are talking about. This is about a study to see numbers and details and facts about LCEC. Like here's one for those who would like to learn what this is all about.
The Electric Revenue to LCEC for Marco Island is $1.7 million dollars per square mile per year. The Electric Revenue for the balance of LCEC service area is $140,000 per square mile per year. If those of you willing to be objective see the difference, then you can easily see how Marco Island is, in fact, the CASH COW for LCEC. Again, this needs to be studied to see if we can make this work, but the figures are staggering. Again, everyone is invited and encouraged to get their own facts and figures to see how this thing shapes up. I'm certain that even Butch would have to look seriously at these numbers.
Ed Issler

dc5799 writes:

Where can I review Arceri's resume or should I just take your word for it, also what utilities all over the state of Fl. and NY seek out his expertise? Names please, court cases, something other than your a kissing.

Fossil writes:

So if you dare speak the truth, you are called paranoid or anti-everything? Paranoid about what? People with hidden agendas? How in the world can one be objective when commenting on the activiites of our city? Things happen so quickly and are supported by so much made up spin that one has a hard time figuring out the truth from reality. You name it, the water plant, the sewer, the repaving of our streets, the jolly bridge, the street lights, undergrounding power lines, re-use water lines, Veteran's Park, asbestos contamination in the hotel district, transiant boats and now you want us to believe the city can run a power utility? Here is an objective statement: I believe the vast majority of our citizens know a private enterprise can better run a utility then any government can. What next? A philharmonic that our meager population could never support? Issler, I'm sorry I didn't include you in the group of people who have been conning our city. As for Arceri's resume, you jest or you are not as smart as you believe you are.

lauralbi1 writes:

Fossil: I dare you to speak the truth. You would not know the truth if it hit you in the face. Especially when it comes to talking about a Utility (LCEC), that in and of itself is a "Government entity" and a beaurocracy. LCEC was formed under a Federal deal that was brokered to supply power to rural SW Florida at a time when Marco had 10 homes on it. There was even a Federal subsidy to LCEC that is no longer being supplied. LCEC, under it's charter and the laws governing Cooperatives, cannot bid on power. Do you have any idea the millions that is costing us in power cost alone. I sell and design systems used by Power Traders that trade power on a minute by minute basis everyday. It is huge. Oh, I forgot, I already said that but you cannot listen because your emotions get in the way of fact. It's great to see you carry on above as you do. It only proves to the few that read these blogs how little you know of the facts and how little you are willing to go out and learn them on your own. Please do so and then come back with something intelligent. Your diatribe above is meaningless.
Ed Issler

happy6 writes:

ed...are you going to post john's credentials and info requested...thanks.

Avenger writes:

And Ed, when you post John's credentials, post yours, too--"I sell and design systems used by Power Traders that trade power on a minute by minute basis everyday."

MSullivan writes:

Has anyone bothered to look into where Marco Island Electric will keep all the new trucks,garages to maintain & park them, multi-million dollar inventory of backup transformers and spare parts, a warehouse to store them and offices for the vast bureaucracy that will be generated by an undertaking of this magnitude ?
If the main excuse for turning the once quiet residentially zoned S. Heathwood WTP into the noisiest and most congested area on this island was because there was no where else to put them. Then where is Marco Island Electric going to find it's new home ?
It may look good on paper but in reality a very bad idea.

lauralbi1 writes:

Beowulf: You (Marco Island) pay a significant amount more in Electrical Revenue compared to cost than does a farmer in the boon docks of Lee County. And yet the farmer pays the same rate as you and receives the same "rebate" as you, as a customer. If you don't think of that as Socialistic, then I guess I need to go back to school. Maybe you would be willing to pay some of my other taxes on the same theory.
There is no spin, no machine. Just a desire to know what potential for revenue to Marco exists in this concept. You certainly don't know, I do not know. Why don't we find out. I get very suspicious with LCEC when, for the first time in their history on Marco Island, they hold a Public meeting and threaten us with lawsuits. Why would they do that ?? Ask yourself that question. By the way, there are no more subsidies.
Ed Issler

happy6 writes:

ed...are you going to answer the question in #10 would probably help your credentials if you finally posted the info requested.

marcoredeagle writes:

I'm interested in finding out the facts.
How can I find this fact from an above comment:"
The Electric Revenue to LCEC for Marco Island is $1.7 million dollars per square mile per year. The Electric Revenue for the balance of LCEC service area is $140,000 per square mile per year."
Q1 Is this true? How can I find this fact?
Q2 If the rest of the LCEC is farm lands then I'm not surprised of this

lauralbi1 writes:

You know, it's funny how some people want to change the direction of an issue. The facts are available. Get an annual report from LCEC and look at how much Marco Island pays to LCEC and divide it by our square mileage. Then take the balance of the revenue and divide it by the balance of the square mileage of the LCEC service area. I'm not going to do it for you, because you won't believe my numbers anyway. Do it yourself.
This issue is not about Issler or Arceri, as much as some of you above appear to want to make it so. It is about a study that could possibly result in information that may save us millions of dollars a year. Maybe or maybe not. But don't we all want to find out ?? If you want Mr. Arceri's resume, contact him yourself and ask. I do not know how he would want you to do that, but you can always ask Lisa Douglass.
Ed Issler

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