As most Citizens who have been paying attention know, there are some major issues that affect all of Marco that could or have already been brought before the existing City Council. As one of the few announced candidates to run for election to City Council this coming November, I would like to suggest that items that are not ‘time-sensitive’ be deferred until the next Council is elected. Among the potential or existing issues and why I believe a decision on these can be deferred (in no particular order):
1. Water/sewer rates: at the last Council Workshop a decision was made, per the recommendation of the Consultant, that the existing 12 percent surcharges be reduced to 6 percent; this was agreed to and will take place shortly; this was a ‘time sensitive’ issue that deserved immediate action. There also seemed to be some level of unanimity regarding the rates, however it was also suggested that until a ‘rate sufficiency study’ is completed, it might be best to heed the recommendation of the Consultant who has indicated that there is no need for any rate adjustments until 2013.
2. Mackle Park Community Center: although the Parks & Recreation Department continues to move forward on planning the new building, survey after survey has clearly indicated that the people of Marco would like to have the opportunity to decide on whether or not this is a “need now or a like to have.” While it can be argued that both construction/labor costs and interest rates are at their lowest point in years, do we have an accurate enough crystal ball to say that we need to act on this now?
3. ROW Handbook Revision: the Director of Public Works has now presented revisions to the City’s “Right of Way” ordinances on two occasions to the Planning Board, in both cases the PB has deferred action, most recently voting to defer action until July, at which time they said they would reconsider the Ordinance. Although the Director continues to insist that there is ‘nothing new’ in the revisions, a number of citizens have expressed concerns, including Members of the Planning Board, about the effects of some of the provisions that are new such as those affecting the size of sidewalks, as well as the issue of the composition of materials used in the single family home swales. This issue may or may not make it to City Council for a decision.
4. The possible sale of Marco Utilities under a “P-3” arrangement under which we would be able to take our $200 million plus debt and sell it to an outside agency and then make lease payments on it. Some would argue the interest environment is perfect for this right now, while others, including myself, would maintain that you don’t borrow money to pay off borrowed money. Exacerbating this argument are the still unresolved questions pertaining to the debt and ability to service debt on the already completed STRP Districts.
Councilor William Trotter is the only existing Councilor who is term limited and will not be able to run again; to the best of my knowledge none of the three incumbents (Councilors Gibson, Recker and Waldack) have yet to declare whether they intend to run again, while Councilors Batte, Kiester and Chairman Magel are not up for reelection. Thus, while it’s entirely possible that 6 of the 7 seats will be occupied by existing Councilors, by deferring decisions on these issues we will give the People of Marco Island the opportunity to decide, based on the various candidate forums that will undoubtedly take place, who they want in the decision making position on these and many other critically important decisions.