Marco Island City Council approves policy decisions that will shape water rate ordinance

In a workshop format, Marco Island City Councilors sit at floor level with community members Monday to discuss water and sewer rates for the 2013 fiscal year. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

In a workshop format, Marco Island City Councilors sit at floor level with community members Monday to discuss water and sewer rates for the 2013 fiscal year. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

City consultant Mike Burton of Burton & Associates points to calculations that change water and sewer rates as requested Monday by Marco Island City Councilors. At his side is Andy Burnham, a member of the Burton & Associates team. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

City consultant Mike Burton of Burton & Associates points to calculations that change water and sewer rates as requested Monday by Marco Island City Councilors. At his side is Andy Burnham, a member of the Burton & Associates team. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— In a fast-paced workshop on Monday, Marco Island’s City Councilors drilled down to approve four final pieces of the city’s water and sewer rate puzzle.

Their decisions will give city staff the direction it needs to craft an ordinance using the new M-54 rate design. Council will present the ordinance for approval on first and second reading before rates take effect Oct. 1.

On the sewer cap, Mike Burton of Burton & Associates suggested council use 6,000 gallons per month as the cap for single-family homes. A cap is required since water to single-family homes is metered, but effluent leaving is not. Homeowner pay for the water they use to irrigate, but should not have to pay if it is not sent to be treated.

Changing the cap is problematic because the amount of revenue needed to maintain the sewer facility is a know factor. Any change would require a revenue neutral result. Lowering the single-family cap would place additional costs on commercial and multi-unit classes.

Council chose to reduce the cap to 4,000 gallons per month for single-family homes, thereby increasing costs for commercial and multi-unit residences. Councilor Wayne Waldack was the only decision maker preferring the 6,000 gallon cap.

Council decided to keep the block and tier structure currently used for water rates. The city uses three block rates with residential lot size determining how blocks charges are applied. Cost per 1,000 gallons increases with each block and tier.

Two public speakers disagreed with council’s decision. Ken Honecker felt there should be an affordable block for small gallon users of less than 5,000 gallons per month. Marty Roddy believed that rates should not be higher for large volume users since lawn irrigation was the standard on the island, and brown lawns would reduce property values.

On pricing reuse water, two councilors felt the city should consider non-potable water as a commodity and not a byproduct. Councilor Bill Trotter cited the practice of municipalities pricing reuse water closer to potable water. He suggested raising the rate to $1.99 per 1,000 gallons. The city currently charges $1.54.

Councilors decided by a vote of 5-2 not to raise the cost of reuse water. Councilor Chuck Kiester joined Trotter in opposing the move.

Discussion of surcharges put Trotter on offense.

“People view the surcharge account as something that will cover debt service for the entire facility,” he said. “We are collecting more money that we need to in the near term. We need to keep the money separate.”

City Finance Director Patricia Bliss countered his argument.

“It has not been spent at all except how it should have been,” she said. “If we reduce surcharges from 3 to 2 percent then (water) rates have to be raised from 6 to 7 percent. It’s a one-to-one ratio.”

Trotter then asked to see the rate sufficiency study without operating increases or capital improvements. Burton cautioned that any reduction in necessary maintenance for the sake of reducing rates would give the public a false sense of savings.

Victor Rios, an area resident, echoed that concern after the meeting.

“They talk about what good condition the facility is in now; but in a very short period, it will not be in such good shape” he said. “Maintenance is key to this complicated and complex equipment. You cannot skimp on maintenance, overhaul and testing.”

Council decided to plan a workshop at a later date to scrutinize line by line the rate sufficiency study’s rationale for cost increases and capital projects.

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Comments » 22

happy6 writes:

WHAT A BUNCH OF BAFFOONS....a "fast paced" meeting...come one...they have spent a fortune with consultants and now all of a sudden we reach a conclusion...what a joke!!! they should all be ashamed of themselves....dump the whole bunch!

Brisla writes:

Look at all those old white dudes.

mahiman writes:

Consultants are expensive turds. If you're not smart enough to figure it out, get out of office!

happy6 writes:

AMEN MAHI! but they work FAST...council i mean not the turds.

WizeOlMarco writes:

The 'fast pace' is Marco Eagle News description. I've been following the water/sewer reports and discussion but still am confused. If I understand, the challenge is allocating usage and costs for outside used water to condo buildings vs commercial vs single family home properties. Setting aside the hope that there would be no increase the above proposal seems a compromise; am I mistaken?

ajm3s writes:

Question: Was a cost of service study provided only for potable water and waste? If I understand a cost of service analysis, shouldn't it include all products and services, since reuse water and potable water share the same attributes: cost of production, cost of transmission, cost of distribution, etc.

So is the going cost for reuse water accurate, in keeping with the principles of COS? Or do we just put in a ratio based on potable water cost? How accurate is that? Geez, I would have thought Mr. Magel would have welcomed that effort, but interestingly enough, he chose to lament that reuse water users paid full price (potable water rates) for two years for reuse water.

Guess what, Mr. Magel, single family homes have been paying full price for irrigation water since the inception of this island by design.

May I suggest reuse water be priced at 80% of potable water in keeping with AWWA rate surveys for reuse water.

http://www.awwa.org/files/Resources/W...

Just a thought!

chicky writes:

Wouldn't it just be easier to allow everyone to have a sub meter for lawn irrigation. What is wrong with these people?

marcofriend writes:

in response to chicky:

Wouldn't it just be easier to allow everyone to have a sub meter for lawn irrigation. What is wrong with these people?

The problem with this is that commercial, condos, and hotels would have to pay more as their real usage rates would then show up.

deltarome writes:

in response to marcofriend:

The problem with this is that commercial, condos, and hotels would have to pay more as their real usage rates would then show up.

those commercial, condo and hotel owners are the ones who are directing council to save them money. They forced homeowners to install sewers so they could get others to pay for needed rehab and then collect all the reuse water and use it for themselves at reduced rates. Get rid of the bought and paid for councilmen! their voting record speaks for itself.

jwputnam writes:

Marcofriend and Deltarome have hit the nail on the head!

If the citizens are s----- enough to reelect these councilmen, they deserve everything that they get.

Unfortunately, apathy is a big problem on Marco.

happy34145 writes:

This whole island revolves around the Chamber of Commerce and the Condo Associations

OldMarcoMan writes:

We have had some real idiots as Council Chairman , but Magel has a good chance of being the worst.
Talk about being in over his head, makes me wonder what kinda side deal he cut to get that Job? Maybe a vote for City Attorney ? Didn't I hear the guy he owes his job to is getting out of Law School next year ??

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

in response to OldMarcoMan:

We have had some real idiots as Council Chairman , but Magel has a good chance of being the worst.
Talk about being in over his head, makes me wonder what kinda side deal he cut to get that Job? Maybe a vote for City Attorney ? Didn't I hear the guy he owes his job to is getting out of Law School next year ??

Didn't you know the council may spend more than $50,000 to do an intergalactic search for a city attorney if that occurs? And after that will decide that our own "late in life" attorney with no on the job legal experience, will be the best choice.

OldMarcoMan writes:

Ocram,
Just like we picked our City Manager ?

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

in response to OldMarcoMan:

Ocram,
Just like we picked our City Manager ?

If you can convince the public that you have attempted to do what you claim that you will do and just go back to the "good old boy network" of doing things who is going to question it?

Smoke and mirrors and a public who is mostly retired and too tired or unwilling to fight for what is right and we end up with a city hall named after a person who should have been relieved of his position with a reprimand for being dishonest. Why should we expect anything better?

Do you think that this will change anytime soon, I, significantly, doubt it?

MrBreeze writes:

The only way to change is through the vote. We must get new people in place who are in favor of the residents.

I have said many times the "small guy" days on the island are numbered if things do not change. The costs and overhead will run most away and that is part of the overall plan.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

The only way to change is through the vote. We must get new people in place who are in favor of the residents.

I have said many times the "small guy" days on the island are numbered if things do not change. The costs and overhead will run most away and that is part of the overall plan.

We may need to create a "Resident Party". Marco Island Resident Association, MIRA.

Never mind, we have Marco Island Property Owners, MIPO, just created over a year ago......

Time to pay attention, because regardless of where we live on this island, the city is on a major campaign. It is the mindset of city planners, committees, interest groups and developers. The campaigns can be encapsulated in the following mantras:

1. "Bigger is better" (from Parks and Recs, Community Center)
2. "Denser is doable" (from Planning, MidTown District Redevelopment)
3. "Swale is a stone's throw away" (from Public Works, ROW Standards and parking)
4. "Government is your friend, smile for the camera" (from City Manager, transparency in government)
5. "Debt is your friend" (from City Council, or is was that from a pimp/drug dealer?)

Time to show up!

sunnycity writes:

This is really out of control! We thought Florida Water was expensive, The new crooks charge us a $50 fee per month when we don't use a drop. Thanks City of Marco Island

1Paradiselost writes:

And the city sold us on the idea that our costs would go down! What a bunch of a-holes!

Ocram (Inactive) writes:

Paradise,

It was their choice of words. What they really meant was that what it "cost" us would go "down" the drain into the sewers.

I think we should invest in a "Lie Meter" to be hooked up to councilors at City Hall meetings. It would be very interesting to see how often the needle hits the red area. Whoops, there it goes again!

happy34145 writes:

Marco Mafia STILL rules

26yearsonmarco writes:

"In a fast-paced workshop on Monday, Marco Island’s City Councilors drilled down to approve four final pieces of the city’s water and sewer rate puzzle."

Comon, give these guts a break. Do anyone have any idea how hard it is to work FAST when you are HALFFAST??

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