Community center debate, city audit deficiencies push Marco Island City Council meeting past 9:30 p.m.

Public speaker Richard McGuiness asks representatives of Royal Concrete Concepts about construction of two new buildings at Mackle Park. The community center was discussed Monday during Marco Island’s City Council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Public speaker Richard McGuiness asks representatives of Royal Concrete Concepts about construction of two new buildings at Mackle Park. The community center was discussed Monday during Marco Island’s City Council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— On the agenda for discussion, a proposed community center for Mackle Park quickly escalated into a debate Monday over approving the new facility.

Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk presented a two phase plan for complementing concrete structures that when built side-by-side will total just over 16,000 square feet and cost $2.25 million. The existing Mackle Parking building would be demolished between the two construction periods. With Milk were two representatives of Royal Concrete Concepts, the vendor that would complete the project.

Four motions were made to move the community center from discussion to preparing a contract and seeking funding. The flurry of reworded attempts sputtered to a halt when two motions failed on 3-3 votes, and two failed for lack of a second. Councilor Larry Sacher was not present during voting.

The hubbub began when Councilor Larry Magel placed his motion before council, asking for approval to authorize a contract with the vendor for the two phase center.

Councilor Larry Honig seconded the motion but questioned how funding would be obtained in the short term. Council had received information that the vendor could be available to start the project as early as June. Magel informed Honig the project was a capital expense, not operational.

“We have sufficient funds in reserve to pay for this tomorrow,” Magel said. “If we pay for this with reserves there is no debt service.”

Councilor Ken Honecker asked council to step back and reconsider.

“The budget subcommittee needs to look at this,” he said. “If work starts in August that would modify this year’s budget.”

When the votes were tallied, Magel’s motion failed 3-3 with Councilors Amadeo Petricca and Honecker and Chairman Joe Batte opposed.

Honecker made a second stab with a motion to get the contract in hand so Burt Saunders, city attorney, could review it. His motion included discussing funding at council’s next meeting. No councilor seconded the motion.

Honig made the third attempt asking councilors to agree they wished to proceed with the project but not until council could determine how to pay for it and examine the contract. Magel seconded the motion. It, too, failed.

Honecker came back with a fourth try asking council to direct staff to get a copy of the contract from the vendor for the city attorney to review. No second was forthcoming.

Throughout debate, Batte insisted the purpose of the agenda item was discussion and not a vote. He felt the public was not aware a decision could be made that night. The item will return on the July 15 agenda.

Audit report

Council also learned Monday the city’s Fiscal Year 2012 financial audit fell short of yielding a perfect report. Councilors heard the results from Laura Brock of Mayer, Hoffman, McCann, the financial firm completing the audit, and Tom Kirstein, chairman of the city’s Audit Advisory Committee.

Auditors marked the city down by assigning a “significant deficiency” for allowing terminated employees to continue accessing city IT programs. The same problem was noted on the FY2011 audit and returned in 2012 as a second-year criticism.

A “material weakness” was assigned for the number of journal entries auditors were required to handle before the city’s financials were finalized for auditing. The weakness pointed to problems with the city’s yearend closing procedures.

The FY2010 audit was cited for the same problem; however, in 2011 the problem appeared to be corrected.

“We fell back on our work and getting it completed,” Kirstein said.

Batte expressed disappointment with repeated problems. He asked Brock if any progress on the IT issue was detected between the 2011 and 2012 audits.

Brock replied that IT technology found the item has not been corrected. Employees who were terminated still had access rights. A policy may have been adopted by the city but had not been properly executed or followed up by staff, she said.

“It’s so basic that it difficult to swallow,” Batte said.

“There should be a second set of eyes to ensure the proper steps are taken when an employee exits,” said Petricca. He suggested checks and balances be executed on the same day an employee departs.

On the late ledger entries, Brock said the city should consider updated software.

“Your needs are greater because of the utilities and sub-ledgers (you have),” she said. She also suggested the city implement a variety of steps to overcome the problem including reassessing staffing needs, realigning deadlines and assigning responsibilities.

Neither issue should affect the city’s ability to earn the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) 2012 certificate of achievement, Brock said.

Councilors appointed six residents to serve on the Audit Advisory Committee until June 1, 2015, including: Laura Gelman, William Schroeder, Jim Conway, Jr., Ray Rosenberg, Randall Dunham and Paul Arena. Petricca passed on an appointment.

In other business, council appointed all seven positions to serve until June 1, 2015, on the Code Compliance Board. Reappointed to the board were Phil Kostelnik, Lou Prigge, Debra Shanahan, Dick Adams and Rony Joel. Ray McChesney and Paul Kampmeyer were named new members to the board.

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Comments » 9

ed34145 writes:

So they hire more and more people in finance and have more and more problems

naples_rocket writes:

Mr. McGuiness - epitome of Marco islander. Don't spend a dime on anything I don't like, cut all government expenses to zero, but where is my "free" headset, I am ENTITLED to one!!! Love this! I think I'll start watching council meetings again.

marco97 writes:

Who appointed Joel to the board?

26yearsonmarco writes:

What Marco needs is a Brainey-ack like Uncle Ben to handle our finances and screw us up just like he is doing to Our Once Great Country.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05...

2themoon writes:

in response to naples_rocket:

Mr. McGuiness - epitome of Marco islander. Don't spend a dime on anything I don't like, cut all government expenses to zero, but where is my "free" headset, I am ENTITLED to one!!! Love this! I think I'll start watching council meetings again.

What the %#^* planet are you living on? Dont spend a dime??? Marco Island?? Thank God for the McGunisses of this island that stand up to crap that goes on here.

ajm3s writes:

This was one hell of a meeting. On the discussion regarding the Communtity Center. I thank Mr. Batte for not taking a discussion and turning it into a vote. This is the Mr. Batte, I chose to represent me and as stated in the story:

"Throughout debate, Batte insisted the purpose of the agenda item was discussion and not a vote. He felt the public was not aware a decision could be made that night. The item will return on the July 15 agenda."

Now unto the audit report: as to the finance side of the city, all I can say is ................. speechless!

"Auditors marked the city down by assigning a “significant deficiency” for allowing terminated employees to continue accessing city IT programs. The same problem was noted on the FY2011 audit and returned in 2012 as a second-year criticism."

To Council Members, this is the STORY! The last time IT was truly scrutinized and under control was during a slim time frame under an interim city manager by the name of Mr. Souza who challenged all director's spending and credibility but was replaced by Mr. Thompson for reasons that are still beyond me.

Folks! With regard to financial matters and especially past financial management, crap in will yield crap out. Bear in mind, the city is now considering spending some serious money on an accounting software package. Again, a warning to all within earshot: given unchanged management practices regardless of accounting packages: crap it yields crap out.

Even the Audit Committee understands that simple concept.

I recommend we proceed with caution, because the problem began with past management and its poor practices. Now we hear again, an audit report with the heading of "significant deficiencies".

And to Council members who are quick to spend money because we have reserves, I say: There is still fat in some budgets and need of some council members to tax to the limits of the 3% annual spending cap. This only confirms my view that some council members both past and present do NOT understand the principles of cost management but do understand maximization of tax revenue management.

Note: with rising property values some council members will be intoxicated that the city can return to the days of increase spending with no change in millage to provide a false sense of sound fiscal management. Please let us NOT repeat the failing of the past!

The best spending is the spending in the private hands of property owners to update and improve, to build homes or businesses on vacant lots or existing business owners to expand operations.

God help us all!

August8 writes:

We need a couple new boats before we replace buildings.

1Paradiselost writes:

Is it me or have you ever seen a city with new fleet of police cars every year?

August8 writes:

Hey, the above two poster's talk to themselves, how cool !!!

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