MARCO ISLAND — City Council will be prepared to go the distance for several hours Monday as they address parking tickets at homes and possible restaurant parking disparities, among several other somewhat controversial Marco Island topics. Council will begin with a work session at 2 p.m. Monday where formal votes on the issues will not be taken. After a break, they will return for a 5:30 p.m. meeting for formal action.
City Manager Steve Thompson developed possible ways to cut more expenses from the 2010 budget. The cuts come from trimming expenses slightly in several areas. He has recommended cutting $257,000 in operational expenses and $170,000 in capital expenses.
Community disturbances, residential parking tickets
Noise and parking problems have been reported as a result of short-term resort rentals in residential areas on Marco. Police and code officers are increasing education of city laws, issuing written warnings and citations, as well towing vehicles when necessary.
Two proposed ordinance changes, one which would allow code officers to issue immediate citations for noise and public nuisances, as well as another to review side yard setbacks to allow additional parking, may be considered.
Parking along the side of the road, in swales or obstructing sidewalks is not allowed. Many Islanders experience limited parking for visitors and visitors. In a six week period ending mid-September, about 100 parking tickets and about 100 warnings were issued.
“The recent parking enforcement has generated compliments as well as complaints,” Police Chief Thom Carr has reported.
Council got an earful of the complaints at their previous meeting and will be looking to provide some direction as to how to address the problems.
The Marco Island Restaurant Association have recommended the city review whether the parking rules were fair for the fewer than 10 free-standing restaurants on Island.
Joe Oliverio, president of the restaurant association and owner of Joey’s Pizza, a free-standing restaurant, said it should be more equitable.
Currently, restaurants in shopping centers have a more liberal guideline in the amount of parking spaces they must have in relation to their restaurant’s square footage. Free-standing restaurants, however, can only have so many seats per available parking spaces. Because they have fewer opportunities to share parking with other businesses in a shopping center, the rules that apply to free-standing restaurants are inequitable, Oliverio has said.
This summer, the Planning Board concluded that if it is only about five restaurants that may have a parking problem, than the Planning Board could address those on an individual basis.
Oliverio worked out his particular problem by creating a parking agreement with a neighboring business and getting approval for it by the Planning Board.
Beginning at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Council will have their second and final review of the tree ordinance, which seeks to regulate trees that residents plant on public land. Among other things, the new regulation primarily sets up a process for residents to get approval to plant city-approved trees in front of their homes even if the land is city-owned.
Whether to spend or return about $1 million to electric customers
It’s been talked about for months and now Council is to make a final decision on what to do with the approximate $1.1 million collected by Marco’s electric provider, Lee County Electric Cooperative, on behalf of the city.
The surplus was created when the project to bury overhead electric lines was cancelled and when it was discovered that a reported debt for putting electric lines underground along Collier Boulevard was actually paid off. Electric customers are no longer paying the 3.6 percent electric franchise fee as of September and now Council must decide whether to refund the money or use it for other projects.
Trotter has maintained that it would be consistent with the surcharges initial intent if about $700,000 of the money were used to put electric lines underground in and around Veterans’ Community Park.
Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association board member Amadeo Petricca maintains that the money should be refunded because it was collected “under false pretenses.”
Smokehouse Bay Bridge
Council will decide whether to approve a contract to have engineering designs completed for replacement of the dual-span Smokehouse Bay Bridge at a cost of about $250,000.
About 600 residents voted for their favorite of the five preliminary designs created by five different firms at a cost of $25,000 each. The two designs city staff have recommended are not the favorite of the residents, according to the city’s survey. However, in his memo to Council, Public Works Director Rony Joel put forward the two least expensive designs.
“Staff has concluded that the two bridge structures are rapidly approaching the end of their useful life and they will be required to be replaced in the 2013 to 2014 time frame to ensure the safety and continued well-being of the boating and traveling public,” Joel advised Council in an Oct. 6 memo.
Having the engineer designs complete aids in receiving state and federal grants.
The favorite among residents was the design by Volkert and the total cost is about $9 million.
TBE and T.Y. Lin are the two firms suggested by Joel and staff. TBE’s bridge costs about $8.4 million and T.Y. Lin’s costs $7.5 million. TBE’s design was residents’ second choice and T.Y Lin’s was residents’ third favorite. T.Y. Lin’s design includes steel arches and has higher clearance under the bridge than TBE’s design.
In the Marco Eagle poll, which was not a scientific poll and had fewer participants than the city survey, most thought a new bridge was not needed.
Council raises, spending cap changes in City Charter
City Council will be considering seven proposed changes to the city charter. The most substantial change for taxpayers is the change to the spending cap, which if Council, and eventually voters, approve, would allow the city to use 2008 as the base year to calculate their spending cap. The spending cap limits spending to no more than 3 percent plus COLA above the year before. If this change is approved, it would allow the city to base all future years' caps on the city's 2008 budget, which was the last budget year before declining property values caused the city to spend less than their cap allowed.
City Council members may also get raises if voters approve the 33 percent to 50 percent, or $3,000, salary increase. The Chairman would get a raise from $9,000 to $12,000 and other Council members would get a raise from $6,000 to $9,000.