Marco residents concerned over taxes, water sewer rates

Taxes, water and sewer rates, police staffing and illegal aliens are the four topics of most concern to Marco Island residents, according to the results of a long-range planning survey conducted by city leaders in November.

However, there is a slight discrepancy among the level of concern and actual research findings, which were completed by city and Collier County staff members.

Attempts to reach City Manager Jim Rivere and City Planner Kris Van Lengen for comment were unsuccessful as of press time.

First on the list of concerns: taxes. According to city research, 14 percent, or a total of $14,636,057, of resident ad valorem tax bill in 2010 stayed on Marco Island, while Collier County received 27 percent, or $29,384,699; and the School District of Collier County received the remaining 59 percent of taxes, $63,610,556 in all.

In terms of changes in city millage, city workers documented the rate over a 15-year period from 1998 to 2011. In 1998, the millage rate stood at 2.112. That rate declined over the next two years, increased 13 percent in 2001, and declined again for the next seven years. In 2009, the millage rate increased 15 percent over the previous year to a rate of 1.397, more than 34 percent lower than the 1998 millage rate. Currently, the city’s 1.89 millage rate for 2011 is an increase of 13 percent over 2010, but still 10 percent lower than the millage rate 15 years ago.

Marco Island residents whose home is valued at $500,000 pay approximately $826 to the city for millage tax each year. According to research prepared by city council member Wayne Waldack that amount is much less than a host of cities between Tampa to Miami.

In Everglades City, one of the Island’s closet neighboring communities with a population of 648, residents pay approximately $978 in city millage on a $500,000 home.

In Punta Gorda, which with a population of 17,651 is closest to matching Marco Island’s 18,370 residents, residents there pay approximately $1,284 for city millage on a home valued at $500,000.

Only in Naples, with that city’s 22,556 residents, do taxpayers pay less millage — approximately $590 on a $500,000 home. In 2010, Naples had city millage rate of 1.18, compared to Marco Island’s 1.6518 in the same time period.

It is important to note that difference in city services provided were not considered in regards to millage rates in other parts of the state.

The Island’s water and sewer rates were another area of concern in the long-term planning survey. Compared to other cities and counties in South Florida, Marco Island stands in the middle of the pack when it comes to rates.

Out of 20 surrounding or neighboring cities and counties, Marco ranked 12th for its water and sewer utility rates based on 15,000 gallon usage, the typical residential usage on Marco. Residents on the Island pay $30.83 for water base; $57.75 for water usage (per 15,000 gallons); $25.14 for the sewer base and $29.82 for sewer usage. The total bill for residents equates to about $143.54, which does not include a 14 percent temporary surcharge.

The total water and sewer bill for residents in Naples is about $105.54, while people who live in North Port paid the most of the 20 cities compared, with a total bill of approximately $218.79.

In the survey, respondents had differing views on whether the city spends too much or too little on police protection. City workers selected 50 Florida cities chosen because of similar size and proximity. Marco Island has 32 officers, nearly 2 (1.9) for every 1,000 residents. Compared to the 49 jurisdictions listed, the Island uses the 4th fewest officers.

Finally, a number of survey respondents cited illegal aliens as a source of long-term concern for Southwest Florida. Since June 2007, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has had an agreement with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). More than 30 sheriff’s employees have received extensive ICE training and given the authority to determine the immigration status of people who have been arrested. The office has also developed a Criminal Alien Task Force (CATF). According to a report completed by CCSO the sheriff’s office turned over 2,984 individuals to ICE since October 1, 2007.

When CCSO interviewed 1,046 inmates in the county jail between December, 2009 and June 10, 2010, all whom were known to be illegal, only 97 inmates or (9 percent) were arrested for major felonies (also known as Level 1 crimes) such as murder, rape, kidnapping and drug trafficking. Twenty-five percent were arrested for what is considered Level 2 crimes, such as battery, petty larceny, felony fraud and minor theft. The remainder — 66 percent of illegal inmates — were picked up on misdemeanors, such as driving without a license. A majority of these crimes were “minor and nonviolent,” according to the sheriff’s report.

While 60 percent of illegal individuals detained and removed from the U.S. by CATF were from Mexico, the task force identified and interviewed people from more than 50 countries including Bangladesh, Canada, Iran, Russia and Vietnam.

The survey results are posted on the city website, www.cityofmarcoisland.com.

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

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Comments » 20

Marcogirl28 writes:

I live on Mainsail in NAPLES and i am on Marco City Water. Where Isles of Capri which is much closer is on Naples water. I shouldn't have to pay for the Sewer project!!!

wentfishn writes:

1998 to 2011 is not 15 yrs, duhhhhhhhhhh how many other errors that I dont know about? Just wonder about things I read latly.

Seawaller writes:

In reference to the water/sewer issue, the spin is that Marco Island is in the "middle of the pack". Let's look deeper. When considering base rates, Marco Island is number one for water and number seven for sewer out of the 20 communities listed. Combining base water and sewer Marco Island is the second highest, exceeded only by Sannibel. So all you conservation minded people out there, if you don't use one drop of water and add absolutely nothing to the sewer, you will be paying the second highest rate of the 20 communities listed. Now how's that spin doctors!

Seawaller writes:

Oh yeah, and if you add in the "temporary" 14% surcharge, which the above article excludes, you will be paying the highest rate of any of the communities to which they compare Marco Island. I wonder if I can exclude the 14% surcharge when I pay my water bill.

JohninMarco writes:

Note to Mr. Waldack, one must pay taxes first before he states to the news that we are not over taxed. If Mr Waldack feels this strongly about taxes, maybe he and Mr Gibson will pay theirs.

RayPray writes:

"Finally: Race the tax"

Fresh approach!

When the President is black and promoting gouging tax hikes, then only blacks should have to pay these this tax.

"invest in education"

Do this by taking half the $$$ dumped on government monopoly unions for beetle-browed tenured educrats and dedicating it to building libraries and science labs.

"improve health care"

Do this by scuttling Medicaid.

"cut defense budget"

Do this by re-targeting our fighters from Libya to bomb the venerable Commodores of the Marco Yacht Club instead.

"fire MIPD."

Do this immediately; but be nice and compensate Chief Carr & Code Commando Liz with a month's worth of O'Doul's
beer....

OldMarcoMan writes:

Maybe next time you will pay a little closer attention to who you vote for.

ajm3s writes:

I thought I saw another increase, yeah I did, I did.

Real estate taxes attributable to Marco Island on a percent basis have risen from 10% to 14% since the inception of city-hood. I guess MI is growing faster than Collier County is terms of relative percentage of tax revenue.

How did that happen? Let's all put on our thinking caps..................

Is it the low millage?

Remember, from the "management", the Marco Island millage is low relative to other cities in Florida and surrounding communities.

Millage is influenced by property valuations (poor vs exclusive communities), size of taxing district, cost of operations covered by ad-valorem vs fee based revenue etc etc etc. So a side-by-side community comparison based on millage is meaningless and honestly, s-----.

Continue this millage mantra idiocy, and I begin to understand how we now find ourselves where we are today, with STRP mismanagement, water rates misapplied, and policies i.e. ordinances that exacerbate the problems before us.

Time to support Marco Island Homeowners to at least get a layman's view of the land, to review the professional "management" of this island paradise.

http://www.marcoislandhomeowners.com/

wwaldack writes:

ajm3s

When I did the study, the purpose was to understand where Marco Island’s Millage Rate stands in comparison to all other communities in the State of Florida. I used information from 378 communities because I did want the study to discriminate by area, poor vs. rich or cost of operations. The study did include population. While Marco Island has numerous expensive homes but it is not the most exclusive community in Florida.

The resulting fact was that Marco Island was blessed with the 3rd lowest combined City/County Millage Rate or Ad-Valorem Tax Rate in the State of Florida. I did investigate the Non-Ad-Valorem fees of the two cities with lower Ad-Valorem Taxes. One of those two cities receives 47% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees and the other city received 60% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees.

The average City/County Millage Rate of the 378 cities used was 19.8277 and Marco Island was at 11.3835. The highest community was Biscayne Park (Miami Dade) at 25.7760. Most communities in the Miami-Dade area have similar Millage Rates to Biscayne Park. There were two cities that I did not include that showed Millage Rates of 45.

Millage Rates are a common denominator because that is the multiplier that all communities use. Millage Rate X Taxable Value = Ad-Valorem Tax.

Millage Rates should not be the only factor on how we judge any community; unfortunately you went on to make accusations which are with little merit or basis. Citizens raised issues about water and sewer rates and we are going through a Cost of Service study.
Wayne Waldack

wwaldack writes:

CORRECTION:

ajm3s

When I did the study, the purpose was to understand where Marco Island’s Millage Rate stands in comparison to all other communities in the State of Florida. I used information from 378 communities because I did not want the study to discriminate by area, poor vs. rich or cost of operations. The study did include population. Marco Island has numerous expensive homes but is not the most exclusive community in Florida.

The resulting fact was that Marco Island is blessed with the 3rd lowest combined City/County Millage Rate or Ad-Valorem Tax Rate in the State of Florida. I did investigate the Non-Ad-Valorem fees of the two cities with lower Ad-Valorem Taxes. One of those two cities receives 47% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees and the other city receives 60% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees.

The average City/County Millage Rate of the 378 cities used was 19.8277 and Marco Island was at 11.3835. The highest community was Biscayne Park (Miami Dade) at 25.7760. Most communities in the Miami-Dade area have similar Millage Rates to Biscayne Park. There were two cities that I did not include that showed a Millage Rate of 45.

Millage Rates are a common denominator because that is the multiplier that all communities use. Millage Rate X Taxable Value = Ad-Valorem Tax.

Millage Rates should not be the only factor on how we judge our city; you unfortunately make accusations which are with little merit or basis. Citizens raised issues about water and sewer rates and we are going through a Cost of Service study.

ajm3s writes:

in response to wwaldack:

CORRECTION:

ajm3s

When I did the study, the purpose was to understand where Marco Island’s Millage Rate stands in comparison to all other communities in the State of Florida. I used information from 378 communities because I did not want the study to discriminate by area, poor vs. rich or cost of operations. The study did include population. Marco Island has numerous expensive homes but is not the most exclusive community in Florida.

The resulting fact was that Marco Island is blessed with the 3rd lowest combined City/County Millage Rate or Ad-Valorem Tax Rate in the State of Florida. I did investigate the Non-Ad-Valorem fees of the two cities with lower Ad-Valorem Taxes. One of those two cities receives 47% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees and the other city receives 60% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees.

The average City/County Millage Rate of the 378 cities used was 19.8277 and Marco Island was at 11.3835. The highest community was Biscayne Park (Miami Dade) at 25.7760. Most communities in the Miami-Dade area have similar Millage Rates to Biscayne Park. There were two cities that I did not include that showed a Millage Rate of 45.

Millage Rates are a common denominator because that is the multiplier that all communities use. Millage Rate X Taxable Value = Ad-Valorem Tax.

Millage Rates should not be the only factor on how we judge our city; you unfortunately make accusations which are with little merit or basis. Citizens raised issues about water and sewer rates and we are going through a Cost of Service study.

Thanks, for providing an example to confirm my point:

"I did investigate the Non-Ad-Valorem fees of the two cities with lower Ad-Valorem Taxes. One of those two cities receives 47% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees and the other city receives 60% of its budget from Non-Ad-Valorem Fees."

In my younger days, millage is synonymous with fugacity, simply a fudge factor so that we can get to the ideal.

So in real terms, as valuations go up or down, we adjust the millage to arrive at a number to meet the budget.

But as you pointed out, many cities get revenue from sources outside of ad-volorem taxes. And that is where we find ourselves, as a homeowner; trying to keep up with Council that just does not understand the millage means nothing to me. It is the amount of spending, the real dollars, the capability of the city to manage its finances, do evaluate risk and make tough decisions.

Quite frankly, I am sick of Mr. Murphy telling me safety is at risk, Council that cannot say no to every request for support for this or that foundation, or a City Manager that hears noise.

So please, your conclusion of your study is flawed if you go beyond the fact that it is just a nice listing millage values of communities in Florida. IT IS NOT A COMMON DENOMINATOR of anything.

wwaldack writes:

ajm3s

If you can not accept that having the lowest Ad-Valorem (Property) Taxes is a good indicator of how well the City of Marco Island manages its finances, then there is probably little else that would satisfy your opinions.

You may also fail to understand that the Police Foundation, the Fire/Rescue Foundation and the Parks and Recreation Foundation all are volunteer memberships that are Marco Island Citizens and/or Marco Island Business people that support the many positive sides of Marco Island. These organizations contribute time, money, effort and many positive contributions to the City of Marco Island.

The City of Marco Island has many Citizen Committees that vet many requests prior to reaching City Council. You may be tired of Mr. Murphy requests to protect your safety because you don’t understand the why of the problem.

Wayne Waldack

ajm3s writes:

in response to wwaldack:

ajm3s

If you can not accept that having the lowest Ad-Valorem (Property) Taxes is a good indicator of how well the City of Marco Island manages its finances, then there is probably little else that would satisfy your opinions.

You may also fail to understand that the Police Foundation, the Fire/Rescue Foundation and the Parks and Recreation Foundation all are volunteer memberships that are Marco Island Citizens and/or Marco Island Business people that support the many positive sides of Marco Island. These organizations contribute time, money, effort and many positive contributions to the City of Marco Island.

The City of Marco Island has many Citizen Committees that vet many requests prior to reaching City Council. You may be tired of Mr. Murphy requests to protect your safety because you don’t understand the why of the problem.

Wayne Waldack

The foundations do provide many benefits for the specific city programs they wish to contribute to or support. So in that vain, why does the P&R Foundation want the city to spend more money, instead of the foundation contributing the monies for support? Could it be the project is a bit large in scope?

I have difficulty distinguishing the lobbying arm from those that volunteer and contribute to the foundation. Is it fair to say the people that support the foundation want the entire city to support the foundation when in fact, many residents may not? And as such, would I then be considered just another malcontent within the fold because I have a dissenting position?

I will say it again, the foundation should raise the monies if they are that committed and remind themselves why they moved or live here.

With regard to Mr. Murphy protecting my safety, I will offer as an example his position against shell driveways on private property. His testimony before the Planning Board and Council was the potential injuries to his personnel in transporting patients on a gurney. The correct and professional response is: there are safety protocols currently in place when fire and rescue are dispatched to ensure enough personnel and equipment arrive to safely transport an individual regardless of the terrain.

Now, Mr. Waldack, this from a recently retired Fire Chief, who understands safety, and recognizes Mr. Murphy as a political jabber-mouth guided to defend his union members at the expense of the citizens on their own private property. IT IS SO OBVIOUS IT IS BLINDING.

But again, it is only my opinion. What scares me is that your opinion as evidenced through your voting record impacts many on this island. And many times it benefits the city (management) at the expense of the residents.

dc5799 writes:

Ajm3s
Great reply to Wayne Wayne. I would like to know who pens his articles. Anyway whenever I hear Murphys name my mind reverts back to shell driveways.
Just like whenever I see or hear OLD People I will think of Teri.

deltarome writes:

Marco City govt is blessed with an older average age. Less of our taxes go to pay for schools, which is not the case in cape coral or other cities where the average cost of a house is much less and there are more school age kids.
The fact that is overlooked here is that my house is worth the same as when I purchased it in 2002 yet my city taxes are 40% higher!
Tell me again how city govt is doing a job better than other cities???
If the state and county govt can lower millage rates since 2006, why is it that Marco City govt has to raise it year over year??

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

Before we all come to the realization that we can't afford to have all these public works employees. Police, fire, education, Public parrks, public drunk, (I mean police chief) etc. and all the rest of the morons. Could we please get rid of these Ford patrol cars and replace them with Rolls Royce's? When I am arrested for doing 1 MPH over the limit I would like to go to jail in the style I am accustomed. This is all to funny. The current budget crises in DC is coming to towns near you. 2011 will make 2012 look like a girl scout cookie budget meeting.

wwaldack writes:

ajm3s

The foundations do provide many benefits for the specific city programs as they do contribute to the support of the community and the Parks and Recreation Foundation is raising money. There is valid reasoning in replacing the current recreation building and that will be a responsibility that will need to be addressed either now or in the future. It is in need of a major overhaul and is currently functionally obsolescent as it can not meet the desires of the community.

The bad economy makes this a good time to take a serious look at the project in so much as suppliers are offering low prices and contractors are in need of work. The hiring of Marco Island contractors could make it more desirable.

The questions that still remain are:
1. Is this the right time?
2. Is the project to large?
3. Is this the best price?
4. Would we be better off spending money monies to repair the old?
5. etc.

I remember Mr. Murphy’s position in regards to shell driveways as not so much in opposition to shell driveways but in providing safety to his personnel without increasing the need for additional personnel and needing a hard tired gurney with larger wheels. Ambulance gurneys are for the most part standard small soft wheeled gurneys not suitable for the natural, "soft" shell driveway. Larger wheeled gurneys may also be difficul to lock down in a standard ambulance. Putting additional Fire/Rescue personnel on site ties up valuable equipment from other responses and creates additional expenses.

Also Chief Murphy is certainly one of the most respected Fire Chiefs because of his extensive knowledge of the Fire/Rescue Service. Chief Murphy certainly does do everything possible to insure the safety of his men.

If you are a recently retired Fire Chief, you would understand the importance protecting the health and safety of your men. One of the first things a Fireman learns or should learn is personal safety, because if you are injured you will create problems in helping others.

Wayne Waldack

ajm3s writes:

in response to wwaldack:

ajm3s

The foundations do provide many benefits for the specific city programs as they do contribute to the support of the community and the Parks and Recreation Foundation is raising money. There is valid reasoning in replacing the current recreation building and that will be a responsibility that will need to be addressed either now or in the future. It is in need of a major overhaul and is currently functionally obsolescent as it can not meet the desires of the community.

The bad economy makes this a good time to take a serious look at the project in so much as suppliers are offering low prices and contractors are in need of work. The hiring of Marco Island contractors could make it more desirable.

The questions that still remain are:
1. Is this the right time?
2. Is the project to large?
3. Is this the best price?
4. Would we be better off spending money monies to repair the old?
5. etc.

I remember Mr. Murphy’s position in regards to shell driveways as not so much in opposition to shell driveways but in providing safety to his personnel without increasing the need for additional personnel and needing a hard tired gurney with larger wheels. Ambulance gurneys are for the most part standard small soft wheeled gurneys not suitable for the natural, "soft" shell driveway. Larger wheeled gurneys may also be difficul to lock down in a standard ambulance. Putting additional Fire/Rescue personnel on site ties up valuable equipment from other responses and creates additional expenses.

Also Chief Murphy is certainly one of the most respected Fire Chiefs because of his extensive knowledge of the Fire/Rescue Service. Chief Murphy certainly does do everything possible to insure the safety of his men.

If you are a recently retired Fire Chief, you would understand the importance protecting the health and safety of your men. One of the first things a Fireman learns or should learn is personal safety, because if you are injured you will create problems in helping others.

Wayne Waldack

Enjoying this conversation, because it allows readers to engage in a detailed discussion and make decisions for themselves of our positions.

Now, because everything is cheap, is the rationale for building today, fails to recognize the city's existing appetite for debt.

I can understand your dismissal of debt, but I sense from your position that you have disregarded the consequences of excessive debt. In both private and public arenas, the result of excessive debt actually lead to limit one's choices including choices that may be deemed necessary down the road.

What Marco Island has failed to recognize is that Collier County has made severe cuts while this island feels strongly in pursuing goals that are out of date and not reduce spending significantly-as evidenced by Marco Island now rising to and comprising 14% of the city/county property tax bill.

Coupled with the rising costs associated with water and sewer. Nice management!

And to your comment, on Mr. Murphy, if you had any sense of safety, no Fire Chief would engage in private property issues especially when public venues present the same situation, i.e. golf courses, beach, open fields. But again, you clearly are not a Fire Chief, because Mr. Murphy's responsibility are primarily to provide and maintain the proper equipment and personnel to meet the conditions on Marco Island and the surrounding area for mutual aid capabilities. Your failure to understand the nuttiness on this island as it applies to Fire and Safety positions recently presented amaze me. I can only believe that politics cloud your perception of this issue as well as others.

It was a pathetic example of serving the interests of the island, when public venues are not held to the same standards that were requested of private property as they relate to handling a gurney.

Love the dialog, it is very enlightening. And with regard to another safety issue, Mr. Murphy et. al negotiated a new mutual aid agreement that now has assistance that is further away by three minutes, because he could not efficiently manage an existing mutual aid with Isle of Capri. Nice work? Did not Mr. Murphy want to open Station 51 because of long response times just a few months ago on a non-mutual aid matter? And now negotiates a mutual aid agreement that runs counter to his sensitivity on an island response time matter. So it begs the question, does response time matter? In one case, it does and in another it doesn't. Truly a safety leader that has lost his way, and the folks accept this as excellent fire and safety management.

Actions rather the words will guide my evaluation of Marco Island leaders. And in all honesty, you and Mr. Murphy rise to the top in terms of scaring the hell out of me.

Recommendation: Switch Fire Chiefs between Marco Island and Isle of Capri.

God help us all.

ajm3s writes:

M.H.:

In an effort for truth in advertising, I do not like lamenting, but I seem to be a doing a fair amount. And I hate it. I really love this city, I really appreciate some of the folks in city hall. I for one have expressed my sincere appreciation for the rise in professionalism in some departments. I have a strong appreciation for the Planning Dept. in the names of Mr. Van Legand and Ms. Carr. for the work they are doing in handling foreclosures, for providing a fair and efficient approach to the issues.

I respect your position which differs from mine with regard to Mr. Murphy and in fact I love dialog. But the issues that plague this island with regard to debt will hamper good programs that may come to the fore in the future.

The debt laden just on the water and sewer comprise the bulk of the cost of our bill and there is no getting around it. So now we are faced with making hard choices because we spent and are unwilling to cut going forward.

We know what we have to do, we just are having trouble with representatives and city management willing to make tough decisions for the fiscal health of this community.

If I was sitting on the Council I would veto or vote against every new spending request, and question every existing expenditure and ask if this is the bare minimum. Not the STANDARD of projects past.

We need to show our resolve as a city. In the end, is this city really shabby, is it rough on the edges? My resounding answer is NO.

So anyone who claims that the Community Center is obsolete, and needs to be taken down because it does not meet current standards, has to ask themselves why not the private dwellings as well. And you know the answer, they may be obsolete by building standards but they are operational and habitable even if they are Deltona homes build in the 60's and 70's.

So if some folks can live in "obsolete" because they were built at the dawn of Marco Island's planned development, I recommend that the city can do as well.

We always want better, but look at the handling of STRP and water. We have the best equipment and perhaps most efficient equipment found in most municipalities and now we must pay the price as witnessed by the capital expenditures and associated bonds.

naples_rocket writes:

in response to deltarome:

Marco City govt is blessed with an older average age. Less of our taxes go to pay for schools, which is not the case in cape coral or other cities where the average cost of a house is much less and there are more school age kids.
The fact that is overlooked here is that my house is worth the same as when I purchased it in 2002 yet my city taxes are 40% higher!
Tell me again how city govt is doing a job better than other cities???
If the state and county govt can lower millage rates since 2006, why is it that Marco City govt has to raise it year over year??

neither Marco Island nor Cape Coral governments have anything to do with taxes for public schools. Millage rates for each of 67 Florida school districts are set by the State of Florida up in Tallahassee.

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