ISLE OF CAPRI — It's almost a new day for Isles of Capri's Fire Control District advisory board.
On Thursday, three of five board members held their first meeting this year. However, the void left by two vacancies made it difficult to complete business. Issues were left unanswered until county commissioners make appointments for the remaining seats.
Veteran member Jim Hughes took the lead organizing the meeting and guiding new members Raymond Kane and Danny Sansevieri. The three tabled selecting a chairman and vice chairman until all board members could be seated. They also tabled a review to update their by-laws, deciding without a full complement of members the work would be futile.
Hughes read a list of new rules for meetings. No shouting out at meetings or offenders will be asked to leave. Those wishing to speak must sign up and will be given an opportunity at the end of each meeting. Agendas will be available directly before meetings start.
The fewer than a dozen residents attending the meeting remained silent, speaking only when directly addressed. But during public comment, some residents made suggestions of their own.
Jeri Neuhaus was hopeful the board and interim Chief Alan McLaughlin could improve communications on financial issues. She explained that a once-a-month review gave the advisory board little time to address changes from the budget. She asked that the board be notified immediately if spending was going to impact the budget.
Len Price, county administrator, attended the meeting and said she would verify procedures for notifying board members so Florida's Sunshine Laws would not be violated.
Matt Crowder asked new members to sit down one-on-one with residents who had been working for a year on new directions for the fire district. A citizen committee presented the previous board with research on administrative alternatives on Feb. 3, 2012. Crowder felt the meetings would allow new members to become familiar with the group's process and its conclusions.
Several residents felt receiving the agenda moments before a meeting gave little time to digest or research issues, form opinions and speak intelligently about them. They asked for agendas to be available at least three days before scheduled meetings.
Residents also asked if anyone new had applied to fill the two vacant positions. Final applications are due to Kristi Bartlett, executive aide to the Board of County Commissioners by Jan. 25. Committee terms are for two years and applicants must reside within the Isles of Capri Fire Control District.
Although Bartlett could not release the names of applicants until the deadline, Crowder said he had applied, and McLaughlin said he heard Fiddler's Creek resident Phil Brougham was a candidate. John Rogers, who was previously mentioned as a candidate, attended the meeting but did not say he had applied.
The advisory board scheduled a meeting for 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30, to review applicants' information and make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners in time for its Feb. 5 meeting. Commissioners approve all advisory committee members for the county.
That would allow new members to be present at the advisory board's next regularly scheduled meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Prior to that meeting, a public workshop will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28, in the Isles of Capri Community Center, 338 Capri Blvd. Residents will continue conversations on the future of the fire control district including possible consolidation with East Naples or strengthening the board's responsibilities and control to allow more self-determination.