City Council Budget Sub-Committee: Marco Island ‘facing another difficult year,’ says Magel

— It’s why they make the big bucks. At the third of six meetings to review the city’s budget, each scheduled for three hours but likely to stretch to four or five hours, City Councilmen Larry Magel, Bill Trotter, and Wayne Waldack added a seventh meeting to make sure no stone is left unturned, and no dollar unstretched.

The three form the City Council Budget Sub-Committee, tasked to dig through the seemingly endless columns of revenues and expenses, and make recommendations to the entire City Council to allow that body to chart Marco Island’s financial course. Thursday’s meeting was tagged as “Bliss day,” with city finance director Patricia Bliss sitting opposite the councilmen at the table in the City Hall first floor conference room, to take them through a summary review of five-year capital improvement projects.

Next to Bliss sat City Manager Jim Riviere, and budget analyst Robert Lange, with the audience almost exclusively made up of city employees, who were sometimes called on to clear up details on programs in their departments. The councilors questioned the staff on whether, and in what circumstances, funds could be shifted from one area to another.

Bliss explained that some revenue, such as impact fees, can only be spent on growth-related items.

“So I’ve got $200,000 in police forfeitures. Can I use that for new computers in police cars?” asked Magel. Only for additional units, not replacement items, replied Bliss.

“Can I take $12,000 from the farmers’ market and put it in the Racquet Center?” asked Magel, chairman of the sub-committee. Almost simultaneously, Bliss answered “yes” and Riviere answered “no.” In general, though, the meeting was a low-key, information-gathering session, and produced few fireworks.

Fireworks did come up, though, when Riviere pointed out that the Fourth of July fireworks display, a $40,000 total expense, before contributions mostly from businesses, was $2,000 in the hole, and would cost the City $12,000 from the Parks and Recreation budget.

“I hope this is the last year we do it,” said Riviere, referring to the solicitations. “I don’t want to see regulators asking for donations from the regulatees.”

“We’re facing another difficult year,” Magel said of the budget situation as a whole, with tax revenues continuing to fall. “Patricia has a list of what our revenue sources are.”

How cities or municipalities choose to raise revenue comes down to a difference in philosophies, said Bliss.

“Marco Island wants to do everything on property taxes,” she said, and used Miami Gardens on the east coast as an example of the opposite approach. “Miami Gardens charges franchise fees on electricity, water, LP gas, cable TV, everything – all added on to user fee bills. These are fees we don’t use.” Occupational licenses, other than for beach vendors, is another area where Marco Island could, but does not, derive revenue from, she said.

With local option gasoline taxes, on the other hand, which currently generate just under $1 million for the city, “we are currently at the highest rate” allowed by state law, she said.

“It seems to me, we have to manage the city to the 8.5 percent property tax reduction,” said Trotter, cutting the budget to reflect the dropoff in revenue. Magel said that any capital projects that could be deferred, should be.

“We have $8.5 million for ’12, and $7 million for ’13 (in budgeted capital expenditures). Which of those could be deferred? What about seawall replacement – could it wait a year?”

Jeffrey Poteet, general manager of the water and sewer department, and public works director Timothy Pinter said they are going through the process to determine what constitutes a failed seawall, and Amadeo Petricca of the Utilities Advisory Board said they would hold a meeting in the next week to develop a recommendation.

Councilman Waldack mostly sat silent through the proceedings, but did comment when funds for water and sewer impact fees were referred to as “commingled,” cautioning that word “sets off all sorts of negative things.” He was assured nothing criminal was going on.

Speaking of sewers, Riviere said citations were going out for residents who had not hooked up to the sewer system after a one-year grace period.

With the entire five-year plan not ready for review, the committee scheduled an additional meeting for June 9, in addition to the meetings scheduled for June 16, July 6, and July 22, all to be held at City Hall.

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Comments » 16

captnjimbo writes:

Up in smoke...If we do not have money to burn...cancel the fireworks.

u2cane writes:

Why does the police department need new computers? Also, why can they only use that for new items? How much would we save by not having a police department, selling off assets, and utilizing the Sheriff's office we already pay for?

40dawg writes:

in response to u2cane:

Why does the police department need new computers? Also, why can they only use that for new items? How much would we save by not having a police department, selling off assets, and utilizing the Sheriff's office we already pay for?

Your beating a dead horse geezercane. This subject has been brought up to the sheriff himself and he said he can not cover Marco with the reduction of several hundred deputies he has taken and his reduced budget. Stop hitting the bottle, pay attention and you might learn something.

happyhorowitz34145 writes:

Was the $3000 that the city manager just spent yesterday, to put emergency lights on his private vehicle included in the budget.
Now instead of going WEE WEE WEE all the way home, he can go WHOO WHOO WHOOO all the home!

JohninMarco writes:

in response to 40dawg:

Your beating a dead horse geezercane. This subject has been brought up to the sheriff himself and he said he can not cover Marco with the reduction of several hundred deputies he has taken and his reduced budget. Stop hitting the bottle, pay attention and you might learn something.

His reduction of SEVERAL HUNDRED DEPUTIES? Maybe you should check your facts before calling some out!

ajm3s writes:

So now let us review all the requests of the past 12 months from the likes of Mr. Murphy for a water truck and station 51 to the request for updating several courts at the tennis center.

I guess all the hogs went to the trough and now there is no water. But beware of the fee revenue scheme as floated out by Ms. Bliss.

“Marco Island wants to do everything on property taxes,” she said, and used Miami Gardens on the east coast as an example of the opposite approach. “Miami Gardens charges franchise fees on electricity, water, LP gas, cable TV, everything – all added on to user fee bills. These are fees we don’t use.” Occupational licenses, other than for beach vendors, is another area where Marco Island could, but does not, derive revenue from, she said.

Something tells me this franchise fee will raise up again in discussions going forward, wWhile claiming to hold millage. So perhaps Marco Island can claim in the future that it derives revenue from both ends of the spectrum, fees and property taxes. So in effect, more revenue to feed the drunken spending and cancerous growth.

BobMI writes:

in response to happyhorowitz34145:

Was the $3000 that the city manager just spent yesterday, to put emergency lights on his private vehicle included in the budget.
Now instead of going WEE WEE WEE all the way home, he can go WHOO WHOO WHOOO all the home!

I do not follow Marco politics and I have never posted here. I registered just to second your concern. I saw that plate CITY MNGR last week. This is unacceptable!!! I didn't know about the emergency lights.
Somebody has to have a word with him. Marco is a small community, this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. Especially when it's coming from an appointed official.

blogsmog writes:

I was just wondering..if we could magically go back 5 years(and knowing the fiscal condition we are in now), would all those who supported the STRP have a change of mind?

naples_rocket writes:

in response to blogsmog:

I was just wondering..if we could magically go back 5 years(and knowing the fiscal condition we are in now), would all those who supported the STRP have a change of mind?

this is the silliest question I've ever heard

NobodysFool57 writes:

in response to blogsmog:

I was just wondering..if we could magically go back 5 years(and knowing the fiscal condition we are in now), would all those who supported the STRP have a change of mind?

Please, don't even THINK about going back 5 years. Thank your lucky stars Mike Minozzi, Glenn Tucker, John Arceri, Bill Moss, and Rony Joel have all moved on in one way or another.

captnjimbo writes:

A three month freeze on any new expenditures might better demonstrate what is nice to have versus what is an urgent need.

Joe_Btfsplk writes:

We do not have a revenue problem - we have a spending problem. Where have we heard this?

blogsmog writes:

in response to MarcoIslandWoman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I do believe its Waldack as well..

OldMarcoMan writes:

Why not just get The City Manager a Police Car? Him driving around in his private car holds the City open to all kinds of liability.
Hey what if he gets that old Cruiser that parked in front of Cafe'.
If he's going to patrol Mayberry he can look the part too!

This place must put crazy pills in its drinking water!!!

Hey Patricia, I have some dream, can you find a way to tax those too?

40dawg writes:

in response to JohninMarco:

His reduction of SEVERAL HUNDRED DEPUTIES? Maybe you should check your facts before calling some out!

Old Coot, ask the sheriff himself, he is down over 200 deputies from 10 years ago. Please stop hitting the bottle, it is affecting you too! Please if something happens to you who would I laugh at, Klabberzili and Rayless? They are not as comical as you. :-

blogsmog writes:

in response to blogsmog:

I do believe its Waldack as well..

Islandeye..SORRY..I got the wrong guy..I believe ed34145 is Waldy not you.

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