MARCO ISLAND — No ballots will be cast or counted, but an election will be held Monday. The next City Council meeting marks the one year anniversary since the election of four new City Councilors, and as such, will lead to the election of the Council’s new chairman and vice chairman.
Current Chairman Bill Trotter will begin the chair, vice-chair elections by calling for nominations and seconds. While Trotter said he wouldn’t nominate himself, he “wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to serve another year as chairman.”
Trotter said the time investment necessary of chairman is significantly more than that needed by other councilors. “Between signing things, working on the agenda, it’s a commitment,” he added.
That’s why Frank Recker, the current vice chairman, has said he likely wouldn’t go for the chairman’s seat.
Instead, Recker said he believed Councilman Jerry Gibson, elected last year as a pro-sewer candidate, might be up for the job.
“It’s open to anyone,” Trotter said.
Once elected by their peers on the seven-member Council, the chair and vice will serve one year.
Monday’s regular City Council meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m., is one of the lightest Council agendas in several months.
“Maybe we’ll actually get done early. Of course we’re starting early too with visits to the charter review committee at 2 p.m. and the Council workshop at 3 p.m.,” Trotter said.
Also on the agenda 5:30 p.m., Monday, is a report on the North Marco Utilities sewer service area, an contract for Marco Lake Drive sidewalk improvements and a request for code enforcement fine reduction.
North Marco Utilities and concern of double-billing for sewers.
Nancy Spender of Old Marco Lane questioned city officials at the March 2 council meeting about why property owners on her street were receiving sewer bills from North Marco Utility Company and from the City of Marco Island’s utility.
Spender had said she never did business with North Marco Utility Company in the past and believed receiving more than $12,000 in sewer assessments from the city, in addition to a $1,305 impact fee from the private firm, NMU, appeared to be “double taxation.”
Spender said she hadn’t received a letter NMU operator and Island attorney Craig Woodward said was sent to explain the sewer district and charges April 21, 2008. Spender said she obtained a copy of the letter in January 2009.
In the letter Woodward wrote: “All condominiums north of and including Pier 81, all commercial properties in Old Marco, are served by North Marco Utility Company, Inc. and have been for more than 40 years.”
Woodward said in an interview Tuesday that residential homes were added to the NMU service area because otherwise one side of the street would have to have duplicate sewer lines because the NMU’s service area and the city’s was separated on each side of Old Marco Lane.
“It would be a duplication, inefficient,” Woodward said.
“North Marco Utilities already had lift stations and other infrastructure in place in the area, and this availability of infrastructure reduced the cost for the system to the residents on Old Marco Lane. This ultimately resulted in a savings of $5,972 in STRP assessments for each property owner on Old Marco Lane because of this infrastructure already in place,” City Manager Steve Thompson wrote in a March 6 weekly report to Council on the issue.
The savings was calculated based on what other city sewer customers pay in the rest of the Old Marco sewer district, which was more than $19,000.
In addition to the $1,305 impact fee due to NMU, Spender said about $50 per month was back charged from NMU since May 2008 in a bill she received Feb. 12, 2009.
“It’s a lot of money for the people on this street in an economy like this where a lot of people are out of jobs,” Spender said in an interview Tuesday.
Craig Woodward said customers of North Marco Utilities, of which Woodward is the only employee, have been pleased with the company’s service in the past and he hopes to keep it that way.
“I think this has come down to a communication problem ... If people need time paying the past due, I’ve told them a payment plan would be fine in these economic times as long as they keep up with the monthly bills as they come in.”
He said there are eight property owners who currently have these monthly sewer and impact fees due.
Public Works Director Rony Joel will be reviewing the history of how Old Marco Lane residents became customers of NMU and the city.
Spender said she hopes to learn why former City Manager Bill Moss leased these residential properties to the utility company for $10 when the “city could potentially make millions off the new sewer customers.”
MARCO LAKE DRIVE SIDEWALK
City Council will consider an award of contract to Bonness, Inc., the low bidder, for the construction of Marco Lake Drive’s sidewalk. The project cost is not to exceed $157,270. Of that amount, $75,000 comes from a community development block grant.
SEAWALL CODE FINE REDUCTION
Code Enforcement Board imposed recorded a lien in June 2008 on 1260 Martinique Court after the property owner failed to obtain a permit to replace the failed seawall.
The property was then foreclosed upon by Countrywide in September 2008. Countrywide requested a reduction in the fine, which is now more than $80,000 based on a $250 per day charge.
The request and Code Enforcement Board recommendation is to reduce the fine to the amount accrued during Country Wide’s ownership, which would be about $46,000, as long as it is paid in full within 30 days and the seawall replaced within three months of obtaining a permit to replace the seawall.