'The unknown councilman'
Waldack weighs in at City Council from his rehab bed
All seven city councilors responded "present" to the roll call at the Marco Island Council meeting Monday evening, but only six sat at their elevated seats. Councilman Wayne Waldack, undergoing rehab in Naples after a bicycle accident, participated in the deliberations by a telephone link, his disembodied voice coming over the speakers in the council chambers.
Occasionally, stray noises from Waldack's room at the Moorings reminded those in the meeting of his presence, but it was easy to forget, and Waldack was passed over a couple of times for votes or comments on the issues.
In addition to the big issue of utility rates, the issues dealt with included sewer cleaning, award of maintenance contracts for city vehicles, seawall replacement at the city's water plant, and Marco's participation in a new county-wide public safety authority. The councilors also took up appointments needed for city committees and advisory boards, to ensure those have a quorum to enable them to keep conducting business during the summer, with many residents out of town.
The first order of business for the City Council involved checks being received by the city, warming Magel's heart.
"It's always nice to get money," he said, as he was presented with ceremonial checks from LCEC and the private citizens who raised matching funds for the Fourth of July fireworks display. The Marco Police Foundation also donated $12,000 to help purchase body armor for police officers. Magel took the council and audience through a presentation he has been making to groups on the island, "Marco Island: The Real Facts." There are many rumors floating around the city, that Marco Island is $400 million in debt, spending is out of control, and the city workforce is bloated, he said, and he addressed each of them.
The city's credit rating was recently upgraded, he said, and the number of employees is down from its peak in 2010.
"For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011…the City ended the year with a $1.54 million surplus," Magel said. "Over the last 18 months, all operating departments of the City have been operating under budget."
Lynn Holley, executive director of the Marco Island Center for the Arts, and Beverly Dahlstrom, president of the Marco Players, gave a "heads up" on their idea to create a "theater district" near the Art Center's headquarters on Winterberry Drive.
"We have Tribeca, Aspen, Sundance – why can't we do that here?" asked Dahlstrom.
Byron Donalds, running for the U.S. Congress seat of Connie Mack, made a campaign speech, an unusual occurrence for a council meeting, that prompted City Attorney Burt Saunders to ask the councilors later if they wanted to establish rules for electioneering in city council settings.
Bernadette Powers, saying her neighbors had told her that her job was not yet done, rose to question when work would actually be seen on replacement of the streetlights on North Barfield Drive. Public Services Director Tim Pinter responded that preliminary work is underway, and residents would see the changes beginning within two weeks.
Engineering manager Justin Martin showed a sample of the panels to be utilized for seawall repair at the 450 feet of water frontage in front of the "reject pond," made from fiberglass reinforced with marine resin. Use of the material rather than steel allowed the job to be done with "significant savings, faster, and less risk," he said, and council approved the contract 7–0.
At Saunders' request, council agreed to hold two executive sessions, closed to the public, before the next council meeting, to discuss settlement talks on pending lawsuits and union negotiations.
"I question the need for closed door meetings," said Councilman Chuck Kiester, but council will hold them at 3:30 and 4 p.m. on July 16, before the next regular city council meeting.
All attendees were invited to partake of a cake in the lobby recognizing Utility Director Jeff Poteet, who just earned his MBA.