Marco Island increases tax rate, decreases utility surcharges

The Marco Island City Council voted unanimously Monday night to increase the tax rate, while at the same time cutting a utility surcharge placed on water and sewer bills.

The decision will actually create an annual savings in city-imposed costs to most property owners.

Also on Monday, council failed to discuss a blind resident’s request to add at least $5,000 to the budget to help him safely cross the road.

Council voted to increase the tax rate from the current $1.89 per $1,000 of taxable property value to about $1.96 per $1,000 of taxable property value — or 1.9592 mils — for Fiscal 2012.

The vote comes with a simultaneous decision by council to decrease a utility surcharge placed on water and sewer bills years ago when the city undertook a septic tank replacement project, which sought to remove septic tanks and put properties on a central sewer system.

The utility surcharge of 6 percent that customers pay on their monthly water and sewer bills will be reduced by about 2 percent. That decision will require a separate ordinance be approved by council, which is expected in October or November, officials said.

The money from the tax increase will be used to pay for a portion of road resurfacing. Previously, the road resurfacing surcharge was added to customers’ monthly water and sewer bills when the city undertook the septic tank replacement program.

The millage rate supports a budget of $21 million in the general fund, which is the city’s primary operating fund. It comes with the use of about $722,000 in reserves and reduces the utility budget by $500,000 to about $63 million, while the public works department’s budget was increased by about $500,000 to include the road resurfacing.

The city is anticipating about $800,000 in surplus at the end of this year, City Manager Jim Riviere said.

Some residents, including Ken Honecker, voiced overall approval for the decisions. He supported council striving to reduce and eventually eliminate the utility surcharge even if that meant increasing the tax rate.

“I support the kicker from the millage to get this back to where it should be,” Honecker said of the road resurfacing expense.

The increased tax rate and reduced utility surcharge came as little relief to resident Vincent Castellano, 54, who asked in April for council to consider purchasing at least one audible pedestrian signal at an intersection he uses frequently to refill prescriptions. Upgrading the signal will cost at least $5,000, Public Works Director Tim Pinter reported.

Council delayed a decision on the matter, saying they’d discuss it later in the evening. That discussion didn’t take place.

“Gentlemen, why do you feel you have to have discussions about a man’s safety?” asked Marco Island resident Jennifer Griffin, as she patted Castellano on the back when they approached council with their request. “I’m like a guide dog to him, so it’s my safety as well.”

Chairman Jerry Gibson said it’s just the way things work. Council will await more information from City Attorney Burt Saunders.

City Councilman Chuck Kiester was confident it would be done or at least come back for consideration soon.

“If it’s only $5,000, it’s certainly possible,” Kiester said. “Personally, I’d like to see us install at least one and see how it works.”

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

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Comments » 6

happy6 writes:

when the strp came to my area i was charged a road fee to pay for the repaving on my utility bill...now that is going away and i will pay for the rest of the strp road paving through a tax increease....that's great council....really appreciate all the hard work...takes nothing to raise my taxes but a little work to keep them the same or lower them.

JohninMarco writes:

Both Ms. Bliss and Jerry Gibson patted each other on their backs about how Marco does not add surcharges to the utilities, really. Then I guess the past charge added to our electric bills for the underground wire project for Collier Blvd was just a mirage. And where did that money go?

OldMarcoMan writes:

Now I wait to see what Franks going to charge me for my worthless Yacht Club Stock, my worthless Bank Stock my worthless Country Club Stock, or my worthless House.

Oh but thanks for the Sewer and Water,,,, if I could afford to take a ,,,,well you know.

I used to think I had it pretty good, now I'm the only one left in my neighborhood.

marcofriend writes:

in response to JohninMarco:

Both Ms. Bliss and Jerry Gibson patted each other on their backs about how Marco does not add surcharges to the utilities, really. Then I guess the past charge added to our electric bills for the underground wire project for Collier Blvd was just a mirage. And where did that money go?

Where did the money go? Some went to bury the single phase wiring at Veterans Park, and some more went for new lights at the Softball Park on Winterberry (I think that was only $160,000), and then some more went for some lighting at Mackle Park. It went right where everyone expected......everywhere but where it was supposed to.

marco97 writes:

in response to marcofriend:

Where did the money go? Some went to bury the single phase wiring at Veterans Park, and some more went for new lights at the Softball Park on Winterberry (I think that was only $160,000), and then some more went for some lighting at Mackle Park. It went right where everyone expected......everywhere but where it was supposed to.

The lights they put around the walkway at Mackle park are on all night costing us money to light a walkway that is closed at night. How much money would the tax payers save if the lights were turned of when the park is closed..

panola60 writes:

in response to marcofriend:

Where did the money go? Some went to bury the single phase wiring at Veterans Park, and some more went for new lights at the Softball Park on Winterberry (I think that was only $160,000), and then some more went for some lighting at Mackle Park. It went right where everyone expected......everywhere but where it was supposed to.

Redirecting the money for political "favors"? Corruption?

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