Marco council to decide whether to raise tax rate as proposed

Larry Magel

Glenn Walton, Special to the Eagle

Larry Magel

Marco Island City Council’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. The customary Monday meeting date was changed because of Labor Day.

— Marco Island is on track to increase its tax rate — however, that may change come Wednesday night as City Council reviews the budget.

Council Vice Chairman Larry Magel recommended a nearly 10 percent increase when the council in August approved the maximum 2011-12 tax rate of $2.07 per $1,000 of taxable property value. But he anticipates council debating a lower tax rate option.

“I’d like to see us come in at 1.89 (mils or $1.89 per $1,000 of taxable value), which is the same millage rate we had last year,” Magel said. “And the debate you’re going to hear at the next meeting is anywhere between 1.89 and 1.99 (mils).”

The latest draft of the 2011-12 city budget sets the general fund, which is the city’s primary operating account, at nearly $15 million. It is based on a tax rate of $1.99 per $1,000 of taxable property value.

Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association President Fay Biles wants to see that rate come down.

“I feel that the millage rate should be no more than last year. It should be 1.89 ($1.89 per $1,000),” Biles said.

If the majority of council agrees to keep the rate the same as fiscal 2010-11, Marco Island will be more in line with the direction set by Collier County commissioners and Naples City Council members thus far in their budget processes.

Collier and Naples are each looking to set a tax rate no higher than their previous year’s rates. They too are scheduled to hold budget meetings this week.

Naples City Council came to a consensus to keep its tax rate at $1.18 per $1,000 in fiscal 2011-12 just as it was in 2010-11. That has Naples facing a $1.2 million shortfall next year and tapping into unrestricted reserves to balance the budget.

Marco Island is also facing the debate of whether to continue building reserves or spending them to keep taxes low in 2011-12.

The latest draft of the 2011-12 city budget sets the general fund, which is the city’s primary operating account, at nearly $15 million. It is based on a tax rate of $1.99 per $1,000 of taxable property value.

Collier County commissioners approved a tax rate the same as the current year’s rate, which is $3.56 per $1,000 of taxable value.

Marco Island is in a slightly different position than Collier County and Naples.

Marco Island has a spending cap that isn’t seen anywhere else in the state. It restricts Marco Island from spending more than 3 percent plus a cost-of-living adjustment more than was spent the previous year. So, as they choose to spend less in the low economy and defer projects, this spending cap, as set in the city charter, restricts them from catching up on these projects when the economy recovers.

Furthermore, Magel pointed out, Collier’s and Naples’ assessed property values didn’t decrease at a rate as high as Marco Island’s. Naples’ property values decreased by 2.95 percent; Collier’s property values decreased by 4.94 percent and Marco Island’s decreased by 8.08 percent, according to the Collier County Property Appraiser.

Smokehouse Bay Bridge May 14, 2009

Staff

Smokehouse Bay Bridge May 14, 2009

This decrease in tax revenue on Marco Island means the city must either increase the tax rate to make up the difference or decrease spending. Thus far, city leaders have indicated a middle-of-the-road approach with City Manager Jim Riviere suggesting to shave expenses in each department and cut several capital improvements.

The most significant of the capital improvement costs are about $1 million for drainage projects, $758,000 toward replacement of the Smokehouse Bay Bridge and $383,000 for sidewalk improvements that are supported by state and federal grants as part of their programs for providing safe walks to school.

Council members didn’t yet decide how to fund the Smokehouse Bridge, but indicated their consensus was a combination of spending reserves and obtaining a loan.

Riviere has described the bridge as “functionally obsolete,” but some believe it’s safe enough to delay replacement.

“I feel that the Smokehouse Bay Bridge could wait even longer,” Biles said. “Rocks can be replaced, which are missing. Trucks can be stopped from use of that bridge.”

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

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Comments » 9

seasonala writes:

This city is incapable of defining essential services!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To increase by 900K is sheer incompetence as a collective body to address the function of government.

This city has to get off the belief that it can spend its way to building a "first class" city by expansion of public facilities and programs, while private property owners with land cut back on city supplied water because of cost increases.

Can the city behave in a manner that mirrors its citizens? Why should the city government expand its budgets when most communities in Florida are reducing to offset an economy in which it citizens are responding to a tough environment.

But Marco Island is truly "special", its goes on merrily whisling a song of we are better while the grass is dying because city provided services are getting more expensive.

Or perhaps we are being represented by a band of "special" needs?

NobodysFool57 writes:

Naples and Collier County property values declined 2 and 4% respectively this year, they decided to hold the line on taxes. Marco Island declines 8%, so we're gonna RAISE taxes. When property values fall by a more than average figure next year, look for the local REALTORS to spin it into an "enhanced buying opportunity". I don't blame the current City Council for this sorry state of affairs, it was bad decisions by Tucker, Arceri, Minozzi, et.al. that led us to where we are today.

shellingsnob writes:

in response to MarcoIslandWoman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Marco Island Woman; Is there anything that you are not an expert on? Seriously, you think you have all the stats and figures but you just ramble on and on and on and on..........

dc5799 writes:

Then they name buildins and plaque's after Tucker and Minozzi. Arceri will have the wastewater bldg.
Name one good thing Tucker ever did to merit having City Hall named after him. Huh Popoff

lauralbi1 writes:

It never ceases to amaze me how, when unchecked, the bloggers actually believe that they represent the "citizens/voters" of Marco Island. Every election, every one, has proven that NOT to be the case.
So, please continue to rant and rave and believe that past City Council members are responsible for your woes, but our Council (and past Councils) is running things just the way the MAJORITY of voters want them to be run.
I guess it is a good thing that this site exists for those FEW that need an outlet for their frustration.
Looking forward to 2012 and our next local election.
Ed issler

RayPray writes:

in response to islandeye1#236971:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Have I finally succumbed to Alzheimers?

This actually hits the nail on the head!

marco826 writes:

Raising taxes hurts the working people of Marco who have been long time citizens on this Island. Sure, the millionaires along Cape Marco row can afford another increase. The working people who support this community in service jobs can not. Harm them and you lose them.

JohninMarco writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

It never ceases to amaze me how, when unchecked, the bloggers actually believe that they represent the "citizens/voters" of Marco Island. Every election, every one, has proven that NOT to be the case.
So, please continue to rant and rave and believe that past City Council members are responsible for your woes, but our Council (and past Councils) is running things just the way the MAJORITY of voters want them to be run.
I guess it is a good thing that this site exists for those FEW that need an outlet for their frustration.
Looking forward to 2012 and our next local election.
Ed issler

Well Ed the group you so support have buried the city in 235 million dollars of debt. They raised taxes, and while calling themselves conservatives, continue to take federal money from Washington. And like the Feds have no idea how to pay off the debt.

RayPray writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

It never ceases to amaze me how, when unchecked, the bloggers actually believe that they represent the "citizens/voters" of Marco Island. Every election, every one, has proven that NOT to be the case.
So, please continue to rant and rave and believe that past City Council members are responsible for your woes, but our Council (and past Councils) is running things just the way the MAJORITY of voters want them to be run.
I guess it is a good thing that this site exists for those FEW that need an outlet for their frustration.
Looking forward to 2012 and our next local election.
Ed issler

Most politicians soon become entertainers and then chronic liars.

Consider what Obama promised and then delivered.

When Bush left office, there were two worthless muslim wars. No there are three.

Guantanamo was supposed to be closed. Still open indefinitely.

Bush used secret rendition and torture.

Obama uses drone assassination of dubious accuracy and nocturnal hit squads to kill what are labeled Taliban.

Bush gave us budget stretching Medicare D, Obama budget-busting Obama-care.

Bush tax cuts still in force.

Goldman Sex still running the Treasury and calling economic shots.

Those who voted for Obama thought they were getting Hope & Change.

Instead its the Bush third term.

Regardless of wisdom of any of these policies, these voters would have gotten more change if Dick Cheney had become president!

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