MARCO ISLAND — A potential $139,947 engineering contract for determining repairs under Smokehouse Bridge was roundly tabled by a 7-0 vote at Marco Island’s City Council meeting Monday.
Tim Pinter, public works director, said the study could provide the necessary data to determine next steps and immediate repairs in the area below the current bridge. The engineering proposal was set to focus on replacing the existing seawalls.
Sacher cautioned some open-ended items in the contract could increase costs. He opposed replacing seawalls and accompanying utilities infrastructure before work could be done to completely replace the bridge and all substructures.
The city should not have to pay for seawalls and utilities to be replaced twice, he said.
Council also unanimously tabled a request from Pinter for $894,466 to resurface approximately five miles of city streets as part of an annual resurfacing project.
Councilor Larry Honig expressed disappointment in bid amounts, stating Marco Island would be paying 40-60 percent more than most cities. He also shared concern after reading an e-mail exchange about street flooding.
We tell people we don’t have the money to fix flooding problems, he said. He questioned how council could then support the resurfacing request.
Moving into another area of the agenda, council unanimously approved liability and staff benefit plans for 2014. The city covers approximately 373 employees and their families including police and firefighters. The plan is funded through Florida’s League of Cities/Florida Municipal Insurance Trust.
Council was informed the city’s high loss ratio premiums paid versus claims processed made negotiating a favorable rate challenging. Between August 2012 and July 2013, the sum of five high claims reached over one-half million dollars with a top claim of $219,000. At one point the insurance carrier paid out $1.10 in claims for every $1 paid in premiums, not counting administration. An initial rate increase was set by providers at 21.1 percent.
Favorable months and negotiations by the Gehring Group on behalf of the city ended in a 9.1-percent increase for the city’s medical plan beginning Nov. 1, 2013. Dental and vision plans will increase 8.2 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Council also unanimously approved final reading to raise utility rates by 7 percent. The increase will solidify the city’s ability to refinance 2003 and 2008 bonds with more favorable rates. The increase raises the debt service coverage ratio for the city utilities to 1.5 or better over five years.
Public speakers asked for utility rate increase relief using any road resurfacing surcharge remaining from the Septic Tank Replacement Program.
After public comment, Vice Chairman Ken Honecker said a workshop on the request is planned for November. Council hopes to discuss the possibility of reducing the utility increase by removing some or the entire remaining STRP surcharge.
During the city manager’s report, interim City Manager Guillermo Polanco suggested returning the Code Enforcement Department to the Marco Island Police Department. Code compliance is currently managed by Bryan Milk in the Community Affairs Department. Council approved by consensus moving forward with the change.
That would put the code department back where it started, Honecker said, adding the city had seen a “daisy chain of disasters” when Code Enforcement was not under the Police Department.
On a final matter, City Attorney Burt Saunders requested a closed door session at 4 p.m., Monday, Oct. 21, to discuss pending litigation. He reminded council that a transcript of the meeting would be taken and made public once the legal case was resolved.