City budget 2010: Will ‘holding the line’ be enough for Marco residents?

First of budget season workshops Wednesday

Article Highlights

  • City looks to hire new finance employees next year
  • First of four budget meetings Wednesday
Marco's new finance director, Patricia Bliss, began her first day of work with the city Monday, March 30, 2009.

Photo by City Public Information Coordinator Lisa Douglass

Marco's new finance director, Patricia Bliss, began her first day of work with the city Monday, March 30, 2009.

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson

— Marco is to take a closer look at what the city needs and what is just a want as the city approaches budget season.

Islanders got their first glimpse at the city budget with a brief overview by City Manager Steve Thompson, which he called “holding the line,” earlier this month — but Wednesday, Finance Director Patricia Bliss and Thompson will lead a discussion presenting the budget in more detail in the first of a series of workshops in August and September.

Councilman Ted Forcht has said he thinks it is time to continue projects that have already started and must be completed, continue ensuring health and safety, and hold off on just about everything else as the community suffers through an economy that is wreaking havoc on Southwest Florida and the nation.

Thompson presented some key aspects of the proposed budget, including the addition of two employees in the finance department.

Some say the additions to the payroll are long overdue, others say it’s over the top to hire more employees at a time when other cities are cutting back.

When the city hired a forensic audit firm, James Moore, to audit the Collier Boulevard project earlier this year, a recommendation was to hire more finance department personnel. The firm recommended at least one person to serve in a position between the finance director and the controller.

“Just one, not the two people recommended in the budget,” says Amadeo Petricca, a member of the Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association Board.

“Government is the only one hiring people right now, but then they don’t have to pay for it — we do,” Petricca added.

Councilman Wayne Waldack said he thinks hiring two more finance personnel is justified.

“Two more people will eliminate the problems of the past. When you try to do it on the cheap, you have what happened,” Waldack said.

What happened, he added, wasn’t a serious crime, but was a collection of errors and messy accounting on the Collier Boulevard reconstruction project, which spanned about seven years and cost more than $40 million.

Council will be looking at how much of the budget is a necessity and what can be delayed in this economy, as Marco approaches the 2010 city budget. After Wednesday, the next scheduled budget workshop is 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Aug. 12. Final budget hearings are to be held in September.

The full budget, as currently proposed by city staff, is in the related links.

The budget workshop is scheduled 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Wednesday, in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 7

u2cane writes:

Again, I think they should institue a pay decrease across the board for all city employees.

OldMarcoMan writes:

I don't mean this in a bad way u2cane, but doing things on the cheap staff wise is how we got in the problem we had on Collier Blvd.
Besides most of these people are under paid anyway.
Cutting projects is the way to save money, not trimming oversight and auditing.

dc5799 writes:

Is Lisa Douglas underpaid? If the emplyees can not do the job they are getting paid to do replace them with someone that can.
I'm sure there are many people who qualify looking for job's that live right here on the Island.

JohninMarco writes:

We will have 5 code enforcement officers, the City of Naples has 1. Wonder now why the taxes go up.

dwbadger writes:

Hiring additional staff to compensate for staff that did not do their job is not the answer. If the current satff cannot be held accountable...replace them. I agree about the code enforcement officers. One is all an island the size of Marco requires.

Most companies make sacrifices in time like we are now facing. We need to review all of the staff positions on the island. I would suggest that staff could be trimmed in most departments. A 10% pay cut for the next year should be considered.

Capital projects already underway should be finished. All new projects put on hold.

marcoredeagle writes:

Does anyone have access to the positions and salaries?
I don't care to know the names but someone outside the City should "audit" each position and salary.

The City should provide this information out to the public or we should ask for it in a sunshine letter.

The City Of Detroit - Public schools recently found 200 plus "ghost" employees ... people paid, on the payroll, getting a payroll check each week but didn't exist.

u2cane writes:

Old Marco Man, I was talking about cutting salaries, not projects. All too often it seems that government is getting too big and there is plenty of waste and employees that find a way to get lost in big government (ie, not performing the way you might expect someone to perform). I am just saying that in times like these there should be no raises in governmental pay, in fact reductions should be in order if the government is taking less money in.

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