Budget time – Marco Island City Council: All-day sessions close in on fiscal year budget

City Council: All-day sessions close in on fiscal year budget

Police Chief Don Hunter speaks to the Marco Island City Council.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Police Chief Don Hunter speaks to the Marco Island City Council.

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent (2)
Councilor Jerry Gibson makes a point on budget issues. The Marco Island City Council and its Budget Sub-Committee met Monday for a lengthy series of meetings, spending most of the time discussing the upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent (2) Councilor Jerry Gibson makes a point on budget issues. The Marco Island City Council and its Budget Sub-Committee met Monday for a lengthy series of meetings, spending most of the time discussing the upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

— The day started at 9 a.m. at City Council chambers, with a Budget Sub-Committee session. Although only the three members of the BSC were required to attend, additional councilors including Bill Trotter and Council Chairman Larry Magel, and several of those council hopefuls showed up. City Manager Jim Riviere, also present, spoke to the long succession of sessions.

"I can foresee a scramble," he said. "When we say 'the meeting of August 20,' the question will be 'which one?' "

After the BSC members, Chairman Joe Batte, along with Councilors Jerry Gibson and Frank Recker, spent the morning with Riviere and city department heads, attempting to finalize their recommendations to the full council, the full council met at 1 p.m. to hear those recommendations.

The beginning of that meeting was taken up with an extended session of the Councilmen literally trying to get onto the same page. With numbers constantly being revised, and binders updated, little effort was necessary to get the same set of figures in front of all involved.

When Councilor Bill Trotter asked about travel and phone expense, Gibson pointed out these were the same questions that had been asked – and answered – during the BSC sessions. This has been a long series of meetings. The same issues have a way of coming up time after time: the Smokehouse Bay Bridge, Mackle Park expansion, accounting systems, and of course personnel costs.

Riviere told the Council the intent was to give city employees a two percent "general increase" in salary. City Council regular and candidate Amadeo Petricca rose to point out that there was nothing in the budget for a controller, with a temporary controller and a temporary finance director currently at the financial helm for the city. In the aftermath of the city paying out a $100,000 settlement in a lawsuit, Councilman Chuck Kiester raised the question of whether the city should consider self-insuring.

"If we do self-insure, we're going to be on the hook for the first $100,000 as well," said Magel. "You've got to have those umbrella amounts." The council agreed to look at what level of self-insurance would be cost-effective, or make the best bet.

The MIPD's request for five and a half additional FTEs, or full-time equivalents, came in for scrutiny. Chief Don Hunter has proposed the institution of a special unit, a three-person "flex group" that in addition to performing regular patrol duties, can serve warrants, and surveil career criminals and gang members, who have been showing up on the island, he said.

Marco is home to five known sex offenders, said Hunter, and additional cases are being worked. The additional officers will also cut the need for overtime, he said, although some overtime, with hurricanes being a prime example, is unavoidable.

On code compliance, Batte spoke up for the deterrent value of a good code enforcement program.

"If we didn't have that, we'd see so many more violations," he said.

Public Works Director Tim Pinter said his budget request is $2.5 million, just 98 percent of last year's budget of approximately $2,597,000. Trotter questioned $40,000 for landscape maintenance on the city side of the Jolley Bridge, but Pinter said that was the lowest of three bids received, with the high bid coming in at $110,000.

The biggest ticket optional item on the budget, the improvements at Mackle Park, has no dollars in this year's proposed budget, said Batte. The BSC's recommendation, he said, was to lay the matter in front of the full Council for guidance, in light of work city staff has done on the project.

"Are we going to continue on this master plan, which includes the Mackle Park recreation center?" Batte asked the Council. "We need to take it to the people," Trotter said, advocating following the course adopted with the since-rejected 24/7 emergency clinic.

As the meeting wore on past 4 p.m., a delivery arrived – 10 to 12 pizzas, sure sign of a lengthy, ongoing session yet to come.

The City Council called off a tentatively scheduled "overflow" meeting on Tuesday, after getting through all their business. Council will meet again on Sept. 4, the Tuesday after Labor Day.

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Comments » 18

marconed writes:

Im tired of the carte blanche this police dept has with the council. Come on folks additional cops? This isnt Miami,we could easily be sufficiently protected with 20 officers.

RayPray writes:

in response to marconed:

Im tired of the carte blanche this police dept has with the council. Come on folks additional cops? This isnt Miami,we could easily be sufficiently protected with 20 officers.

The Chief is always happy to let Council Members ride in a cruiser and even allow them to sound the siren & spin the lights.

JohninMarco writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I for one, do not remember any good old days in Vietnam. I lost many friends there.

ajm3s writes:

"The MIPD's request for five and a half additional FTEs, or full-time equivalents, came in for scrutiny. Chief Don Hunter has proposed the institution of a special unit, a three-person "flex group" that in addition to performing regular patrol duties, can serve warrants, and surveil career criminals and gang members, who have been showing up on the island, he said."

If this is seriously considered, I will truly now understand the machinations of this island and how it views crime. From my perspective, I fear the spending on crime more than the crime itself, unless you could classify the new crime as gang member related. The question is which gang is of most concern, the gang in city management or the gang members infiltrating this city as ........

I am truly in awe as to the extent of those with budgetary responsibility will stack the deck, but now with flex gangs!

As an exercise in %increase, I did not note any reference to the size of the existing force. Does this island warrant such an increase?

If you want efficient policing, you focus and reapportion existing responsibilities, you do NOT add personnel under the mantle of flexibility.

And given the request by the Chief, is there is a parallel request for more county law enforcement presence on the island, as well, for flexibility?

Folks, the budget for safety on this island has risen to the point that I am more concerned with the dollars the city takes from me to protect me, now to include criminals classified as gangs.

I ask, which gang do the citizens need protection? From my perspective, the gang I fear most is now housed within city administration.

I understand Marco Island is a vacation destination, but has it now risen to the level of gang related; unless, a family of four is classified as a gang.

Price: ?

RayPray writes:

in response to ajm3s:

"The MIPD's request for five and a half additional FTEs, or full-time equivalents, came in for scrutiny. Chief Don Hunter has proposed the institution of a special unit, a three-person "flex group" that in addition to performing regular patrol duties, can serve warrants, and surveil career criminals and gang members, who have been showing up on the island, he said."

If this is seriously considered, I will truly now understand the machinations of this island and how it views crime. From my perspective, I fear the spending on crime more than the crime itself, unless you could classify the new crime as gang member related. The question is which gang is of most concern, the gang in city management or the gang members infiltrating this city as ........

I am truly in awe as to the extent of those with budgetary responsibility will stack the deck, but now with flex gangs!

As an exercise in %increase, I did not note any reference to the size of the existing force. Does this island warrant such an increase?

If you want efficient policing, you focus and reapportion existing responsibilities, you do NOT add personnel under the mantle of flexibility.

And given the request by the Chief, is there is a parallel request for more county law enforcement presence on the island, as well, for flexibility?

Folks, the budget for safety on this island has risen to the point that I am more concerned with the dollars the city takes from me to protect me, now to include criminals classified as gangs.

I ask, which gang do the citizens need protection? From my perspective, the gang I fear most is now housed within city administration.

I understand Marco Island is a vacation destination, but has it now risen to the level of gang related; unless, a family of four is classified as a gang.

Price: ?

--Suspected gang member
--Member of organized crime family
--Possible terrorist sympathizer

Such are the type of expressions our government uses when it wants to destroy individuals it doesn't have sufficient evidence to convict (or even indict).

Why not just give the Chief a couple of used military drones?

Then our Keystone Kops could from the air hunt down these dangerous Marco gang threats right on their lanais.

To save money, perhaps these Hunter drones could also be outfitted simultaneous to spray for mosquitoes.

ajm3s writes:

The crime on Marco Island that never makes the police blotter: pickpocketing. On an island that many would consider affluent by many measures, I am amazed as to the amount of pickpocketing that is promoted and endorsed by the city, especially those related to safety. For clarity, the city recommends reaching into residents pockets to support more personnel to address a host of issues, to include monitoring gang members!

If the folks are willing to be seduced into accepting this proposal, I recommend enrolling in a AA or NA for group counseling.... because there is an addiction to spending that requires some sort of intervention.

So I ask the council to put an end to this pickpocketing that is being promoted by the city as they create budgets to expand personnel.

Prior to city hood, we had county officers, to which we are still supporting; perhaps its time to reconsider going back, because the residents of Marco Island are not getting a rebate from the county as promised by proponents of city hood. I guess this is simply another example of double dipping. And the city promised with its own police force, it would petition the county to reduce taxpayer support under the guise that we have our own police force.

Here is a dose of reality, in a community where the ability to pickpocket its citizenry has reached a finite limit with the result leading to termination of city sponsored policing.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/...

How much is enough to protect and maintain the safety of property and lives? $10MM, $15MM, $20MM to protect us. I believe we have exceeded the tipping point, and are now heading into a realm where the folks will have to be protected from gang members on Marco Island!

If history can offer any insight, I can see a heightened level of lawsuits,including wrongful deaths and injury, disability claims, more speed limit signage to support the need for more patrols and compliance .....all to be added to the cost and paid by taxpayers.

Please stop this madness!!!!!! Please tell me this is just a bad dream! Please stop poor and excessive recommendations from management that I believe serves its own self interest with little value added to the citizens.

26yearsonmarco writes:

Coming Soon, To a City Near You:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/...

2themoon writes:

It's all about power and protection for the Marco mafia. Do you think if they nail councilman Gibson for DUI he will be treated like you or me? Come on wake upMarco.

MrBreeze writes:

ajm3s We the citizen's of Marco Island ask that you run for city council. We need you in there bad. The only way to change is to make change happen.

The regular guy does not stand a chance otherwise.

marcoislander writes:

mr hunter PLEASE get a reality check Your on Marco Island STOP SPENDING

Throat_Yogurt writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tinkers_Damn writes:

As your economy worsens plenty of "Gangs" will quickly form. Recuits of all ages live a few short miles north of your island. These members will come to visit. They won't be polite and they have very little to lose.

Welcome them with open arms.

Has MIPD ordered ammo lately?

1Paradiselost writes:

in response to Tinkers_Damn:

As your economy worsens plenty of "Gangs" will quickly form. Recuits of all ages live a few short miles north of your island. These members will come to visit. They won't be polite and they have very little to lose.

Welcome them with open arms.

Has MIPD ordered ammo lately?

Sounds like you don't live on my street. Out of the 18 houses, 11 of the households have carry permits. Only a gang of fools would would try something here on Marco.

ajm3s writes:

The government always believes the government needs more money. And here is a reason we need to elect folks that are here to protect our investments NOT the government.

Imagine, the city claims it has cut spending when it transfers reserve monies to pay for more stuff.

Here enjoy a perspective from a candidate I believe best represents me:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shv...

And you could include candidates Mr. Petricca and Mr. Honecker as excellent replacements for existing council.

There will be no baby kissing photo ops with these candidates, simply a keen sense of what is the role of local governance. Is it to protect us at all cost? Stop this craziness!

ajm3s writes:

This link is direct to the candidate's website with regard to the budget.

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.c...

woozygirl writes:

I say double the police budget. Get them a helicopter too.

ajm3s writes:

To keep this expansion of the police force in perspective, has the city actually engaged in a formal ELF?

http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/ma...

Or as Mr. Sacher has identified in a link I provided earlier, the budgets go up just because.........

In this technological age, government is still recommending higher personnel levels for surveillance/operations....while homeowners are increasingly adding wireless cameras and other monitoring devices for property security linked to a central monitoring station or to their computer.

Unless, of course, MI wants to have a detective team to crack the gang members, drug cartels and black market transactions overwhelming this island?

Sorry folks, as a homeowner, I do not see the added value. It is just another nickel and dime approach to increasing cost, i.e. add a boat, add a couple of officers, add a few dollars, etc. Personally, I believe the city could do better by spending more on maintenance related concerns rather than more inventory and personnel.

marco826 writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We need a Drone...

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