It has been said that everyone has their own agenda.
The Marco Island City Council has an agenda, every time they meet. It is supposed to provide a heads-up, a roadmap of the issues the council will deal with at a given session.
Sometimes, though, other issues take over, and the roadmap is left miles behind. Tuesday evening, the agenda items before the council were disposed of rather quickly, and with minimal discussion (for a deliberative body). Ordinances on second reading for budget re-appropriation and water and sewer rate modifications were passed 7-0.
A resolution for annual uniform collection of tax bills, and authorization of the Smokehouse Bay Bridge design phase two were also approved unanimously, as was a proposal to rename Tracts C and D to Calusa Park. Approval of a contract to purchase a property for demolition did not even require a vote.
When public comment was called for, Utilities Advisory Board chairman and city meeting regular Ken Honecker brought up a topic which seemed to strike a nerve in the Council, and kept coming up time and again during the evening. His concern was utility rates.
“The city spent $80,000 and countless hours of staff time on rate design,” he said. “Does the council intend to do anything with that? I know there’s a better chance of ten inches of snow in Mackle Park than we’ll get a rate design in 90 days,” but he urged the Council to press ahead on the issue. Touting his monthly water consumption of just 1.350 gallons per month, he said, “I saved $272 last year.”
Council came back to the question several times during the meeting, and eventually directed City Manager Jim Riviere to set up a meeting with Burton & Associates, their consultant on utility rates, to try and resolve it.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Chairman Jerry Gibson. “We need to give our people some rates that are fair and equitable. I’d really like to see a rate study by January or February.” The Council decided to hold a workshop meeting on the issue before their regular scheduled meeting on December 5 if the consultant’s personnel could be available.
In another item not on the agenda, Gibson made an announcement, responding to citizen input from a previous council meeting. On Jan. 23, he said, the City Council will hold a town meeting to hear input from Marco residents. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room at 51 Bald Eagle Drive.
“Letters to civic and homeowner groups will be sent this week, soliciting topics and questions for the meeting,” said Gibson. Individuals are also encouraged to submit questions and comments to City Clerk Laura Litzan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fireworks, also not on the menu, came up for discussion. Four of the seven Councilmen, by a show of hands, voted to revisit the idea of the City of Marco Island contributing to help with the expense of putting on the Fourth of July fireworks display at Residents’ Beach.
The last non-agenda item was one that has been much on the minds and tongues of Marco Island this week – speed limits. Basically, Riviere paraphrased the old line from Gilda Radner on “Saturday Night Live” – “never mind.” It was, he said, all a misunderstanding, and the speed limit signs should never have been changed.
“It was all a misunderstanding” among city staff, Riviere said, adding no disciplinary action would be taken. “I’ll flagellate myself,” he promised.