New Marco Island city finance director gets down to details; council hears suits facing city

Guillermo Polanco, Marco Islandís new finance director, explains his challenges during an interview Friday in his City Hall office. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Guillermo Polanco, Marco Islandís new finance director, explains his challenges during an interview Friday in his City Hall office. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

During city council meetings, City Attorney Burt Saunders sits to the left of the dais and answers councilís questions.  Recently seated council members plan to discuss current legal matters at their Feb. 4 workshop. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

During city council meetings, City Attorney Burt Saunders sits to the left of the dais and answers councilís questions. Recently seated council members plan to discuss current legal matters at their Feb. 4 workshop. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— Given his past experience and education, Guillermo Polanco says he's ready to take on the challenge of serving as finance director for the City of Marco Island. On Friday, he outlined his goals and overriding vision, detailing what he can offer the community.

"For now, most of my goals are short-term," Polanco said, "but in the long-term, I want to provide city council and the city manager the resources they need for financial analysis."

Polanco also wants to be able to analyze the city's financial position on a regular basis, perhaps quarterly. Currently, the city does a thorough closing of its books on an annual basis at fiscal year-end.

The road to reaching more frequent analysis requires investing in financial software, Polanco said. The purchase of a new financial package for accounting is funded in the city's 2013 budget, and that software would be a first step.

The city's purchasing department is surveying similarly sized cities to determine what programs work best and offer the most customer support. The 2013 purchase will streamline work and facilitate the processes of creating financial reports. Polanco said that will help, but he can see how more aggressive programs could take transparency and accountability to a higher level.

Perhaps five to 10 years down the road, Polanco said, the city could have a system that makes financial information available and accessible through the internet to anyone interested.

For now, just getting through the city's 2012 audit and working on the next budget absorb most of his time. Polanco said he also is focused on refinancing the city's debt. If the service paid on bonds could be lowered, he said, savings could be passed to residents or used to maintain facilities.

Looking forward to the budget cycle, Polanco said the upside is learning the city's business down to every detail. The downside, he said, will be the way refinancing bonds complicates the process.

One hurdle that's behind him is accounting for Septic Tank Replacement Program districts. As of the city's 2012 audit, all STRP accounts were in the correct individual funds, he said.

When asked if he felt pressure from city councilors to produce too much analysis, Polanco said all members of the council made proper requests.

"Everyone has been very welcoming since I started working."

Prior to coming to Marco Island, Polanco was the director of accounting services for Edison State College in Fort Myers. Preceding that, he worked for the State of Florida Auditor General as a lead senior auditor.

Polanco is a graduate of the University of South Florida and began his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers doing auditing fieldwork.

Council to hear litigation issues

One issue city council hopes to understand is litigation facing the city.

According to a letter from City Attorney Burt Saunders dated Jan.22, a Federal court case among parties including Island Drug v. Thom Carr and the City of Marco Island is set for trial in March.

John Derrig has a suit against the city alleging retaliation by Police Chief Thom Carr when he held the position. Derrig's union, Gulf Coast Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, also has a grievance on his behalf alleging the city's Police Department and Chief Don Hunter violated collective bargaining rights.

Tim and Regina Dayton are suing the city over a public records request. Marcia Ross has a suit alleging injury on public property, and Patrick McMillin says he tripped on a pipe at the Marco Island Utilities site while working for Synagro. Counsel for Synagro has agreed to administer the defense in the matter at no cost to the city, the letter said.

Saunder's office is working on settlements involving the Department of Business Professional Regulation and Robert Mahar, Gary Konicek and Bruce Yakola.

Council is expected to hear information on legal matters at its 1 p.m. workshop on Monday, Feb. 4.

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Comments » 8

ajm3s writes:

"The purchase of a new financial package for accounting is funded in the city's 2013 budget, and that software would be a first step."

Financial software is a MUCH higher priority than say a $400K rescue boat. And if you listened to the last council meeting, Mr. Magel and several other members agreed that the final cost for implementing the software is several times higher (4-5X) than the budgeted cost for $200K for the software.

Time for the council to prioritize, and time for Mr. Honig to return to the message he ran on: positiveness; and abandon a diatribe on other members of council making public record requests.

Even the new financial director understands the ever increasing need for analysis. If council members believe in transparent government, the last thing I would expect to hear from any member of council, is a complaint of public record requests from a citizen now elected to a council seat.

This is as weird as it gets, and weirder given the member of council complaining is a CEO. Unbelievable! He may be a UFO.

lauralbi1 writes:

ajm3: Nobody has to defend Mr. Honig. He is one of the rational members of Council. I think if you look into your posting, above, you will find a msstatement. Mr. Honig is NOT concerned about the number of requests made by memebers of Council. He is concerned, and rightfully so, that memebers of Council are requesting or expoecting City Staff to organize, analyze and consolidate their request(s) as part of the process. It is not the responsibility for City Staff to perfform these tasks. In fact, it would appear to be illegal for City Staff to do so. I would expect the City Manager to not allow any member of City Staff to perform personal "jobs (tasks)" for members of Council !!
Ed Issler

ajm3s writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

ajm3: Nobody has to defend Mr. Honig. He is one of the rational members of Council. I think if you look into your posting, above, you will find a msstatement. Mr. Honig is NOT concerned about the number of requests made by memebers of Council. He is concerned, and rightfully so, that memebers of Council are requesting or expoecting City Staff to organize, analyze and consolidate their request(s) as part of the process. It is not the responsibility for City Staff to perfform these tasks. In fact, it would appear to be illegal for City Staff to do so. I would expect the City Manager to not allow any member of City Staff to perform personal "jobs (tasks)" for members of Council !!
Ed Issler

Really? Misstatement? Where did I reference "number of requests". My bloviating was about the importance of prioritizing issues that need to be discussed by the council, NOT listening to Mr. Honig's personal issue with Mr. Pettrica regarding public record requests. And then making the case, that Mr. Honig ran on a platform of positiveness, yet his first salvo is to Mr. Petricca regarding his comments at a MIPO meeting.

Please Ed, read the context of my comments, and if need be feel free to quote me when you can, but I cannot find any reference I made to the number of requests.

And you are correct Mr. Honig does not need anyone to defend him, but he seems a bit off when his initial public comment as a councilor is directed at another councilman on an issue that is not even before the board.

What I call in the business, bull$$it.

dc5799 writes:

Magel+Arceri+Issler= Honig

ajm3s writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The city attorney was clear in his remarks to the council with regard to seeking public information. He was clear that a council member can ask a question to city staff, and expounded by giving an example in seeking public records from the police chief with respect to an investigation. Go to time stamp 12:00

http://view.liveindexer.com/ViewIndex...

But Mr. Magel tried to use the charter to blunt Mr. Pettrica position both as a citizen and now a councilor.

Thank God we have good legal council and some councilors that will stand against intimidation in its many forms.

I stand with Mr. Pettrica, and he very much does not quibble with words.

I will NOT stand for Bull$$it, and gladly repent if I have made an error in my comments or analysis, but we need to call out crap when we see it, otherwise, we will start believing in perpetual motion machines as the new solution to energy conservation or that density transfer will not lead to more congestion on this island to impact residents.

God sometimes things like this just urine me off to no end!!! Sorry for the rant!

marcofriend writes:

in response to dc5799:

Magel+Arceri+Issler= Honig

Your equation is excellent except you missed Riviere in it......

marcofriend writes:

in response to ajm3s:

The city attorney was clear in his remarks to the council with regard to seeking public information. He was clear that a council member can ask a question to city staff, and expounded by giving an example in seeking public records from the police chief with respect to an investigation. Go to time stamp 12:00

http://view.liveindexer.com/ViewIndex...

But Mr. Magel tried to use the charter to blunt Mr. Pettrica position both as a citizen and now a councilor.

Thank God we have good legal council and some councilors that will stand against intimidation in its many forms.

I stand with Mr. Pettrica, and he very much does not quibble with words.

I will NOT stand for Bull$$it, and gladly repent if I have made an error in my comments or analysis, but we need to call out crap when we see it, otherwise, we will start believing in perpetual motion machines as the new solution to energy conservation or that density transfer will not lead to more congestion on this island to impact residents.

God sometimes things like this just urine me off to no end!!! Sorry for the rant!

Thank you so much for consistantly giving us a voice of reason!

MIslander writes:

John Derrig, disgraced cop who was fired by the city for lieing- who is currently employed and policing our lovely island as we speak- has a pending lawsuit against the city. Is this a joke? Not only has he been the target of numerous lawsuits, but now he has the audacity to sue the same city that had to hire him back and pay him 6 months back pay?

Only on Marco Island. Unreal.

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