Letter to the Editor: Let’s ask some questions

The time has come when our City Council should or should have stated “There will be no tax increase.” City staff should or should have prepared a budget that requires no tax increases. Period.

Let us ask the questions that our City Council should be asking, namely:

1. With building severely reduced on this island, how come we still have four (4) building officials? Each building official or inspector should be certified in all aspects of building inspection. It seems that at this time this staff could be reduced to just one inspector. Ask the questions!

2. This island has six (6) square miles to be patrolled by police. We don’t have rough terrain nor long roads for high speed car chases. Why do we need SUV’s or expensive patrol cars? There are many more cost effective and much cheaper options available. Ask the questions!

3. I see staff supervisors from various departments including the building officials and fire department driving SUV’s, why? Ask the questions!

4. I have been living here on the island now 21 years. I remember when this city bought the water utility to keep costs down. The cost at that time was about $3 per 1000 gallons. Now, when you include the base charge my cost is about $8 per 1000 gallons. A very unwise and expensive acquisition for this city. I’m looking at every little place to save money and city council should do the same. Probably not a big money saver but why do we need multi color statements? The charges on the statement are colorful by themselves. Ask the questions!

5. Now let’s go to capital projects. I looked at the seawall at the water treatment plant. I’m not a civil engineer but it looked OK and can wait a few more years. More than a 1000 residents have told our City Council they don’t want or need the Mackle Park Community Center expansion. Parks and Recreation and City Council keep bringing this up for consideration and funding. Question: Are you proposing these and other capital projects to keep our staff and employees busy? If we didn’t have these projects ongoing, would we save money by a) not funding these capital projects and b) reduce staff to manage and inspect these projects. Ask some questions! Don’t accept everything staff, management, and consultants tell you. Question things!

In conclusion, here is the most important thing. Look around, see and listen to your residents. Look at the economy, look at island surveys, see what’s happening on this island and listen to the residents when they respond to various surveys.

Erich Schuett

Marco Island

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 9

marco97 writes:

Excellent letter Mr.Schuett unfortunately I do not think City Hall is listening.

tnjessen writes:

Mr. Schuett,

Great comments and suggestions!

Some people are asking the questions!

Unfortunately it appears the city employees aren't used to being asked questions. When asked they react as if it were their own personal information and appear to be defensive or obstructive.

The city likes to hide behind FS 119 or any other statute that allows them to deny requests.

As an example -

I will post my question to the city clerk and her response follwing this comment.

Toni Jessen

tnjessen writes:

Here is a portion of an mail to the city clerk and her response.

Ms. Litzan:
I would like to make the following public records request.
1) An annual dollar amount of overtime pay for the building department. Time period - 2005 thru current.
2) Average employee raise in the building department. Time period - 2005 to current
3) An accounting of revenues and expenses for the building department - Time period 2005 - current
4) A list of any inspectors in the building department that are no longer employed
Thank you again for your help.
Toni Jessen

Ms. Jessen
We do not keep records that track overtime pay for the building department, the average raises in the building department, or a list of inspectors no longer employed.The information regarding the revenues and expenses for the building department is contained in the CAFR, which is on the website.
Laura Litzan
City Clerk
City of Marco Island

Continued please look for next comment

tnjessen writes:

Continued email - Toni Jessen(homeowner) asking questions

Ms. Litzan,

In regards to your response I have a few additional questions.

1) No records tracking overtime for the building department.

Do the other departments track overtime? If they do, why wouldn't the building dept? If the other departments don't track overtime is there a record of total overtime for the city (lumped together)?

2) Do you have the average percentage of raises overall for all employees? Also, has there been any raise freezes since inception of the city?

3) No list exists of inspectors that are no longer employed. Does this mean if there were prior inspectors you would not have records of their employment? I believe the building department has had, for the most part, the same inspectors. Can you tell me if there have been any other inspectors, no longer employed, that were electrical, mechanical, structural, plumbing, plans examiners or officials?

4) I did review the CAFR but had a few questions, who can I speak with regarding the report?

Sincerely,
Toni Jessen

Ms. Jessen-

The statutory obligation of the custodian of public records (City Clerk) is to provide access to, or copies of, public records, provided that the required fees are paid. However, the custodian is not required to give out information from the records. The Public Records Act does not require a city to produce an employee, such as financial officer, to answer questions regarding the financial records of the city.

Your questions are requests for “information” - not public records. If you have a request for a public record we will promptly respond to that request, as required by FS 119.

Laura Litzan
City Clerk
City of Marco Island

tnjessen writes:

Maybe the city isn't legally required to provide "information" but I'm sure if they did it would eliminate the storm clouds that brew above the roof top at 50 Bald Eagle Marco.

Question - how much money is spent annually on overtime expenses within the building department.

Answer - we don't track overtime

This is just WRONG

Toni Jessen

ed34145 writes:

If you have been here 21 years, then you should remember storms that we have had (not hurricanes, not even named storms) when Collier Blvd. has flooded and the only vehicles that could negotiate it and other streets were SUVs. Thank you, for the little more that maintaining an SUV costs, I want my emergency people to be able to respond in storms (again, I'm not even talking about hurricanes).

marco826 writes:

Marco Government is going the way of the Federal Government...overspending which will eventually make us broke. The problem here like in Washington is that politicians have no problem spending other peoples money. In fact, they feel obligated to put their own stamps on over bloated unnecessary projects. Spend spend spend is their mantra. We are not conservative here on Marco with our spending. Just the opposite. Oh, I bet your letter barely scratches the surface if we were able to look deeper into waste and maybe other things they don't want to talk about. Happens everywhere. Less is more Marco!

Ruger writes:

Encouraging that most can see that "Cut salaries" is the best option here.

Ruger writes:

in response to MarcoIslandWoman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you aware that Obama has made some very harsh comments himself.

There two sides to this, right?

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/06...

“Barack Obama’s call for ‘new politics’ is officially over. In just 24 hours, Barack Obama attacked one of America’s pioneering women CEOs, rejected a series of joint bipartisan town halls, and said that if there’s a political knife fight, he’d bring a gun,”

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/1...

he said, 'we can't have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.'"

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