MARCO ISLAND — 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.