New kids on the block: MIPO hosts forum for recent City Council additions

The gathering listens to City Councilor Ken Honecker. The Marco Island Property Owners held a forum for new city council members to interact with their members Thursday morning at Mackle Park. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

The gathering listens to City Councilor Ken Honecker. The Marco Island Property Owners held a forum for new city council members to interact with their members Thursday morning at Mackle Park. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Although the atmosphere was restrained and businesslike, for the most part, the event could have been considered a bit of a homecoming, even a victory lap. The Marco Island Property Owners (MIPO) hosted the four newest city councilors at their Jan. 17 general meeting, in a town hall-style forum at Mackle Park, to provide all citizens, MIPO members and non-members, an opportunity to become acquainted with all four of Marco's recently elected city councilmen.

Three of the four, Ken Honecker, Amadeo Petricca, and Larry Sacher, ran as a group, endorsing each other in a "Three Amigos" type partnership, and MIPO was originally founded, as the Marco Island Homeowners, by Sacher. The fourth council newcomer, Larry Honig, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, shared many positions with the other three and with MIPO.

"The good guys won," said Sacher, when it came to his turn to speak, in the November election that swept all incumbent city councilors who were up for election out of office. So to some extent, the councilors were preaching to the choir, but the group made it clear that, having elected these four as their representatives, they mean to hold them accountable. Each councilman spoke for about 30 minutes, making a brief opening statement and then taking questions, from the floor, from Russ Colombo with pre-submitted questions, and from moderator Bill McMullan.

With an eye toward strict adherence to the Sunshine Law, only one councilor at a time was in the room. The topics covered the same issues to those who follow council meetings: utilities, debt, the Smokehouse Bay Bridge, open government, city spending, and the proposed Mackle Park expansion, and the same questions tended to come back as each councilor took his turn at the mic.

In response to a question from audience member Alan Epstein, Ken Honecker, who spoke first, said the utility operation is run very efficiently.

"Our problem is debt. We bought it with a lot of debt. They probably paid $20- or $30 million too much," said Honecker. "We've got a $6 million bill before you make a drop of water." On Mackle Park, he noted it is on the agenda for a January 30 workshop, and invited participation and a referendum.

"I'm for letting the people vote," said Honecker.

"Do you want short answers, or more nuanced?" asked second speaker Larry Honig. "I can be really long." Like Sacher, the other Larry, he urged his constituents to contact him. "I'll talk to you on the phone," he said.

The city's outstanding debt, he said, is "approximately $210 million, about twice what it should be for a city our size. I campaigned on bringing the debt down." At the same time, Honig said that in Marco Island, "compared to other cities, we have fewer employees than any other comparable sized Florida city."

That $210 million debt figure came into question when City Councilor Amadeo Petricca spoke next. The actual figure, said Petricca, is closer to $350 million, when you include the interest payments that will be required, and not just the principal.

Petricca, who has been vocal about his frustration in getting responses and information from city government, declared, "Pardon my French. I'll beat the s--- out of 'em if I don't get answers." He made no apologies for a style that could sometimes be considered abrupt, even abrasive.

"If people don't get irritated, I'm not doing my job."

Sacher, with long professional experience in the pension business, said "We have a sizable future debt on defined benefit plans." These, unlike defined contribution plans, he said, can bankrupt a business. Responding to a question about evaluations of city employees, he went right to the top.

"I've been requesting a formal evaluation of the city manager, which has never been done," said Sacher.

After each councilor spoke, MIPO chairman Ray Seward took the opportunity to throw in a pitch for (free) membership in MIPO, and urged all present to fill out the MIPO survey, available on their website, www.marcoislandpropertyowners.com.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 8

ajm3s writes:

MIPO represents all the folks, and the slate of Mr. Honecker, Mr. Petricca and Mr. Sacher ran on transparency and fiscal responsibility, and to be fair Mr. Honig makes the claim of fiscal responsibility, as well, and I believe he would endorse transparency in government, as well.

So what separates such a group of distinguished representatives? To a written question that was posed but never read publicly: why did these members all agree that a 400K watercraft was the most cost effective answer to provide water rescue operations given the existing inventory and manpower provided through a host of public and private organizations.

My concern is based on a simple fact: the most expensive means of rescue operations is the fire department. On that basis, why did the council only consider Mr. Murphy's proposal without any consideration of other entities and assets in the area?

And if fiscal responsibility is such an over arching concern, the existing boat will now be turned over to the control of the police department, thereby adding to the overall cost of operations.

Now, I understand that budgets have been pared back since 2010 and Mr. Murphy is acting a responsible steward, but has anyone actually looked at the growth of spending in years since city-hood as a point of reference to provide a sense of expansion given the loss of single family homes (1000-1500) as evidenced by an increase of vacant lots?

If these newly elected members of Marco truly wish to wear the mantle of fiscal responsibility, I would ask they review all options, not just those brought before council under the heading of a cost/benefit in maintaining a Donzi as a point of reference.

If MIPO truly represents all property owners, well this property owner would like to see a higher standard of efficient city operations and NOT relative reduction in city budgets, that were built upon a spending spree that ballooned in the early 2000's in excess of growth. Just look at your tax bill from 2000 to 2006, excluding SOH. As well, as the increase in percentage of tax dollars now going to the city relative to the county.

And to Mr. Petricca's comment: ""If people don't get irritated, I'm not doing my job." I believe he was referring to city management, however,
that decision truly irritated me because it truly was the most expensive option, yet only option brought before you for water rescue.

And you all considered it a great proposal! Well it was, but it was the only one proposed and from my perspective the most expensive.

Please, if you think potable drinking water is expensive on this island, then I believe we are on a path to maintain the most expensive water safety operations and equipment in the county and perhaps Florida!!!!!!!

Here is a sampling of how other outlying communities have spent:

http://ftmyersbeachflorist.net/sw-flo...

26yearsonmarco writes:

Ajm3s,

I completely agree with you that Politico’s in general, from here to D.C., have a hard time resisting the over spending of our tax dollars.

“If MIPO truly represents all property owners, well this property owner would like to see a higher standard of efficient city operations and NOT relative reduction in city budgets, that were built upon a spending spree that ballooned in the early 2000's in excess of growth. Just look at your tax bill from 2000 to 2006, excluding SOH. As well, as the increase in percentage of tax dollars now going to the city relative to the county.”

To further understand your statement above, “We the Taxpayers” must understand the spending spree that ballooned during the excess of growth years, was based on false real estate values that resulted from the mortgage fraud, going on here as well as the rest of the Country.

Our trusted government officials who determine the taxable value of your real estate, were, in my opinion, well aware that real estate does not appreciate thirty to fifty percent in value per year, and should be made accountable by refunding “We the Taxpayers “ every nickel of over payment. In addition, every government agency should have their budgets reduced to the year 2000 level, and let them figure out a way to live with it, instead of us trying to figure out a way to keep up with it.

If our “new kids on the block” cannot find a way out of the spending addiction our City is in, then it is time “We the Taxpayers” sign a petition to vote for an end to the City. We were fine before we became a City, and we will survive without it.

RayPray writes:

See what your overpaid 'first responders' might decide to do to you:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

RayPray writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

Ajm3s,

I completely agree with you that Politico’s in general, from here to D.C., have a hard time resisting the over spending of our tax dollars.

“If MIPO truly represents all property owners, well this property owner would like to see a higher standard of efficient city operations and NOT relative reduction in city budgets, that were built upon a spending spree that ballooned in the early 2000's in excess of growth. Just look at your tax bill from 2000 to 2006, excluding SOH. As well, as the increase in percentage of tax dollars now going to the city relative to the county.”

To further understand your statement above, “We the Taxpayers” must understand the spending spree that ballooned during the excess of growth years, was based on false real estate values that resulted from the mortgage fraud, going on here as well as the rest of the Country.

Our trusted government officials who determine the taxable value of your real estate, were, in my opinion, well aware that real estate does not appreciate thirty to fifty percent in value per year, and should be made accountable by refunding “We the Taxpayers “ every nickel of over payment. In addition, every government agency should have their budgets reduced to the year 2000 level, and let them figure out a way to live with it, instead of us trying to figure out a way to keep up with it.

If our “new kids on the block” cannot find a way out of the spending addiction our City is in, then it is time “We the Taxpayers” sign a petition to vote for an end to the City. We were fine before we became a City, and we will survive without it.

"spending spree that ballooned during the excess of growth years, was based on false real estate values that resulted from the mortgage fraud,"

>>> Wrong. The real estate values were true not false. At that time, you could have sold your property for those values to some greater fool. So the values were true.

>>> How do you know the true value of any item? Are houses here today at true values? Is that what the Calusa Indians thought they were worth?

>>> Mortgage fraud was not the cause of the real estate problem, but a result. It was a classic boom bust situation like the tulip frenzy in Holland. Guess what? It will happen again....

"Our trusted government officials who determine the taxable value of your real estate, were, well aware that real estate does not appreciate thirty to fifty percent in value per year...."

>>> Why should they be 'aware' of this? The real estate did boom. And tax officials follower the rules....

>>> Are you aware that gold ounces or stock of Apple Corp should not appreciate as much as they have?

>>> Will you sell gold coins to me at a less fraudulent price than $1688-- an ounce?

26yearsonmarco writes:

Speaking of Unions, the N.J. Senate passed a law yesterday saying that all the Sandy Relief money spent to reconstruct anything must be done by union contractors only. Gov. Christi has not decided if he is going to sign off on it, but do not bet on it.

26yearsonmarco writes:

RayPray,

The value of anything, including real estate, is determined by a willing buyer, and a willing seller, known as a meeting of the minds.

I don't think you have any idea what was going on here on Marco Island during the mortgage fraud days when homes and condos were being purchased by "straw buyers" for $X and then filing a false deed in the public records for $X times two.

If you happened to be an owner of a home or condo near the falsley inflated sale, the taxable value of your home rose based on this sale, and there were many of them.

lauralbi1 writes:

26 years on marco: maybe we could get Bill McMullan to provide a background and insight into this type of activity. After aoll, he was indicted and had his Florida Real Estate License revoked for his part in one of the largest and earliest real estate fraud cases, that took place right here on Marco Island.

Let me know when you schedule his speech, I would love to listen.
Ed Issler

dc5799 writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

26 years on marco: maybe we could get Bill McMullan to provide a background and insight into this type of activity. After aoll, he was indicted and had his Florida Real Estate License revoked for his part in one of the largest and earliest real estate fraud cases, that took place right here on Marco Island.

Let me know when you schedule his speech, I would love to listen.
Ed Issler

Issler,
Give it up no one listen's to you anymore. You are done/done/done

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features