No more city police
At the City Council meeting of Sept. 21, I spoke about an idea that the late E. Glenn Tucker mentioned at a council meeting in Mackle Park some time ago. The suggestion was that Marco Island could save millions of dollars each year by discontinuing the Marco Island Police Department (MIPD).
This is not a joke and I mean no disrespect to the men and women of the MIPD. I am sure that they are just as capable, dedicated and professional as any other police department.
The problem is that we are paying for two police departments at the same time. One, the Sheriff’s Department at a yearly cost of about $14 million dollars and two, the cost of the MIPD which is budgeted at over $4.3 million dollars for the coming year. The Sheriff’s expense is an obligation. We do not have a choice. The MIPD is an option, but not a requirement.
Not counting council and staff, there were about two dozen people at that Council meeting. That is a very small fraction of the island’s population of over 15,000 permanent residents. I would venture to say that very few people are aware of what this island’s taxpayers pay each year to fund the Sheriff’s Department. They will never get this information at a council meeting. It will only be through the newspapers that Islanders can be made aware. Think about what the city could do with this $4.3 million dollars (and growing) each year.
I know that people will be leery of the level of service we would get from the Sheriff’s Department. It is different now, than it was before we became a city. Now the city has clout and the sheriff has to provide a level of service that we require and must demand. He has no choice! He must do it.
Present personnel could be, and should be, assimilated into the Sheriff’s Department. It would make for a smooth transition.
At the Council meeting, I suggested that they (the council) at least look into this idea. Other cities do this. I don’t expect any action by the council because wouldn’t be politically expedient. Our only hope is that the population becomes aware of where so much of their money is going for this duplication of service. I believe the “press” is the only way the information becomes common knowledge.
Budget process flawed
I believe that the Marco Island budget process is flawed because:
1. The budget makers are the beneficiaries
2. All cuts will inherently be railed against
3. Pet projects become requirements
4. Empires, once created cannot be dismantled
5. We do not and should not expect councilors to be budget experts
6. Excesses are and will be built into every budget
So, what do we do to correct these problems? I believe we need a permanent independent and qualified budget committee. They were elected back in New Hampshire, where I come from. They would accept proposed budgets from department heads and review them; then revise them (with department heads) and make all recommendations to council for disposition. The independent committee method has worked well for over a century for budgets and many other specialized areas of government activities.
Disclose accurate data
Councilors, as we approach tomorrow’s special City Council Meeting (held Friday) regarding adoption of our FY2010 budget and millage rate, it’s time for our City Manager Thompson and Public Relations Director Douglass, under the direction of City Council Chair Popoff, to disclose accurate data and to affirm collective opinions and sentiments regarding citizen support and opposition to budget/millage proposals under consideration.
We have heard frequently from supporters of the extreme, devastating 20 percent budget-millage increases during the past several weeks. They seem to have dominated public discussions and press/media reportage of City Council deliberations despite MICA’s Dr. Fay Biles and other concerned citizens whose eloquence for and adherence to reduced expenditures and stringent budget controls seem to have been both deprecated and ignored by the majority of councilors.
How come citizens Sciarrino, Issler, Lazarus, Arceri, Elliot, et al. are given such special attentive accords and exposure by our City Council when they report, without any evidence based on substantive data and valid measurements, what they consider and peddle as the true opinions of citizens?
Thus, I urgently request at tomorrow’s special City Council meeting that:
1. City Manager Thompson reveal what his snail mail, e-mail, phone calls and other communications from citizens have portrayed in the past several weeks in either supporting or not supporting the proposed budget and millage rates he has championed and to be considered tomorrow morning.
2. Public Relations Director Douglass disclose and discuss thoroughly the actual opinions and comments she has received for the past several weeks from citizens via phone calls, snail mail, e-mail and other means that she uses as she attempts, in her role as the eyes-ears of our community, to measure and evaluate citizen opinions and judgments regarding our community’s policies, issues and questions where citizen inputs should be a major consideration for City Council decision-making.
Thank you for considering what I believe to be critical and integral roles to be preformed by our city manager and public relations director. We citizens expect informed and reasoned decisions to be made by our City Council in conjunction with our employed bureaucrats who should serve as objective fact finders and active proponents of citizen views and values.