Marco Island’s City Council replaces utility advisory board with new utility committee

Residents supporting a change to planned streetlights for Bald Eagle Drive in Old Marco, sport red shirts Monday to show solidarity during Marco Island's City Council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Residents supporting a change to planned streetlights for Bald Eagle Drive in Old Marco, sport red shirts Monday to show solidarity during Marco Island's City Council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island Police Chief Don Hunter makes an unprecedented public apology Monday before Marco Island City Council to Joey Olivario and his wife for a false arrest. Hunter said the city will clear up Joey Olivario's public records and thanked the couple for being understanding. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island Police Chief Don Hunter makes an unprecedented public apology Monday before Marco Island City Council to Joey Olivario and his wife for a false arrest. Hunter said the city will clear up Joey Olivario's public records and thanked the couple for being understanding. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— From the ashes of its Utility Advisory Board, Marco Island’s City Council is hoping a new Utility Advisory Committee will spring.

On Monday, council took its first step toward abolishing the existing advisory board by approving, 6-0, the first reading of it dissolution. Council’s action was precipitated by lack of participation on the advisory board. Only three members, Amadeo Petricca, David Rusmussen and William Porter were listed as active members.

The council immediately discussed and approved a resolution to create a seven-member Utilities Advisory Committee to perform many of the same tasks tackled by the advisory board. Councilor Joe Batte voted against the resolution that passed by a vote of 5-1. Council Chuck Kiester was not present at the meeting.

Members of the advisory board were told they could apply for appointment to the new committee if desired. Each council member is allowed to appoint one person to the committee.

Two public speakers, Ken Honecker, a past chairman of the advisory board, and Petricca addressed council during public comment and questioned utilities’ financial issues. Their comments drew response from some council members.

The new committee will serve at the pleasure of council and will perform other duties as determined. Council discussed directing the committee to review and make recommendations on water and sewer annual operating budgets, the utilities’ five-year capital plan and plant operations.

Public Speaker Steve Stefanides cautioned council that its approach to establishing in-house overview was a band-aid solution. He suggested that entities as large as the city’s water and sewer facilities deserved more deliberate management.

“We should have gone outside to manage it,” he said. “A referendum could establish a manager directly responsible to council and council alone.”

Stefanides praised the utility as being the heart of city assets now and going forward.

“We need some who can look 10 years, 15 years, 20 years down the road,” he said. “We’re going to have enough coming down the road that the manager needs to take care of. This is the time to run this as a business: Effectively and efficiently.”

Council Recker offered an alternate solution.

“Who wants another government employee that needs this and that and more money?” he asked. “Get bids from professional companies that manage utilities.”

In related business, councilors authorized the city manager to enter into a contract with Mitchell & Stark Construction Company for $9.3 million to install sewer facilities in the Estates Sewer District as part of the Septic Tank Replacement Program. Council decided not to interrupt the contract during the months of January, February and March known as in-season, so work will progress during that time.

Council also set workshop dates for discussions on the utilities’ Cost of Services report and revenue sufficiency study received from Burton & Associates. One workshop was originally scheduled for Monday, March 19, prior to council’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Additional workshops will be held at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 29, and 1 p.m. on March 14. All workshops will be held in the city’s Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 3

marco97 writes:

For the people in the estate who are getting the sewer system installed, Take lots of pictures of the interior of your home and document the date they were taken. When they put sewers in my neighborhood we had cracked walls, ceilings and tiles in the bathrooms.

RayPray writes:

"Stefanides praised the utility as being the heart of city assets now and going forward.

>>> heart? Unbelievable!

“We need some who can look 10 years, 15 years, 20 years down the road,”

>>> 20 years down the road our streets will be lapping with sea water from global warming....

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Klaus,
I sure hope there is an asteroid out there with your name on it. Please stay away from your family 12/21/2012.

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