Marco Council will investigate complaints regarding building department; Freedom Fountain plans discussed

This artist rendering depicts a first draft for the new freedom fountain in Veteran’s Community Park. Members of Marco Island’s Veterans’ Memorial Fundraising Committee presented plans for the fountain at Monday’s City Council meeting. Submitted

This artist rendering depicts a first draft for the new freedom fountain in Veteran’s Community Park. Members of Marco Island’s Veterans’ Memorial Fundraising Committee presented plans for the fountain at Monday’s City Council meeting. Submitted

Marco Island City Council Chairman Joe Batte congratulates Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Byrne for 30 years of service. Byrne received a city proclamation and a watch at Monday’s meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island City Council Chairman Joe Batte congratulates Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Byrne for 30 years of service. Byrne received a city proclamation and a watch at Monday’s meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Firefighter Ray Ladurini, left, chairman of the Marco Island’s Fire Pension Board, and Police Officer Al Schettino, chairman of the Police Pension Board, listen to comments Monday by Marco Island’s City Council regarding the generosity of city benefits plans. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Firefighter Ray Ladurini, left, chairman of the Marco Island’s Fire Pension Board, and Police Officer Al Schettino, chairman of the Police Pension Board, listen to comments Monday by Marco Island’s City Council regarding the generosity of city benefits plans. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Lee Rubenstein in green and Charles Hartman of the Veterans’ Memorial Fundraising Committee ask Marco Island’s City Council Monday to allow the Community Foundation of Collier County to become the fundraising arm for a new freedom fountain and flag plaza in Veterans’ Community Park. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Lee Rubenstein in green and Charles Hartman of the Veterans’ Memorial Fundraising Committee ask Marco Island’s City Council Monday to allow the Community Foundation of Collier County to become the fundraising arm for a new freedom fountain and flag plaza in Veterans’ Community Park. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

This bronze eagle sculpture title “Thunder & Lighting” is planned to sit atop the freedom fountain in Veterans’ Community Park. The sculpture is 105-inches high, 90-inches wide and 39-inches deep with a 12-foot wingspan. It was created by Tobi Spellerberg in California. Fundraising for the fountain was discussed at Marco Island’s City Council meeting on Monday. Submitted

This bronze eagle sculpture title “Thunder & Lighting” is planned to sit atop the freedom fountain in Veterans’ Community Park. The sculpture is 105-inches high, 90-inches wide and 39-inches deep with a 12-foot wingspan. It was created by Tobi Spellerberg in California. Fundraising for the fountain was discussed at Marco Island’s City Council meeting on Monday. Submitted

— At 4 p.m. on Monday, Marco Island City Councilors met behind closed doors to discuss pending litigation surrounding the city’s building services division.

By evening, council called for a thorough investigation into complaints against the department.

“We do have litigation pending, but it would be a positive for the city to evaluate this,” City Attorney Burt Saunders told council. He offered his services for $5,000 and promised a report to council by Dec. 2.

Councilor Larry Sacher volunteered to work on behalf of council with investigators, but Council Chairman Joe Batte asked the investigation be independent of council.

Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk, who oversees the department, defended the work of building services. The department processed 10,450 permits and conducted more than 40,000 inspections in a two-year period, he told council.

Councilors also asked Saunders to lobby state legislators to repeal laws prohibiting Florida cities from regulating activities in short-term rental units. Pending legislation would remove prohibitions that cripple cities when neighbors complain about misconduct, particularly in private home rentals.

Saunders agreed to work on behalf of council from November through the legislative session. His lobbying services will be billed to the city at $1,000 per month.

Council moved to tighten code enforcement on rental properties by including property owners as responsible parties for renter violations. Council voted 5-0 on first reading to revise its definition of violator from renters only to include owners of property on which violations occur.

The revision will allow the city to place a lien on property where code enforcement has issued a violation to renters. The property’s owner will be notified of the violation and can appear before the code enforcement board.

Councilor Chuck Kiester and Vice Chairman Ken Honecker were not present to vote at the meeting.

Council tabled discussion on assessing property owners for missing sidewalks on vacant lots and for necessary repairs to existing sidewalks. To date, the city has not enforced an ordinance passed in 1999 that required owners to construct or reconstruct, maintain and keep in good condition and repair, sidewalks in front of or abutting their property.

Saunders warned council that although property owners are required to maintain abutting sidewalks, the sidewalks are owned by the city. If a person were injured, he said, the city could be sued.

Council to Collier County

Council will take up two issues with the Collier County Board of Commissioners.

Councilors approved a letter strongly urging the county to keep the Tourist Development Council and the Coastal Advisory Committee as separate boards. Councilors received word county commissioners might consider combining them.

Council also discussed Marco Island’s north beach where pooling water becomes stagnant and creates a muddy and murky walking surface.

North beach laser grading is not working, said Councilor Larry Honig.

“Pools of standing water are damaging the beach. We cannot add to the volume of sand on this beach but might be permitted to take our own beach sand and redistribute it,” he said.

Honig asked council to allow Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management Department to examine the feasibility of moving sand from the water side of north beach. By moving 50 to 100 feet of waterside sand to the affected area, a slope could be created that would eliminate pooling and allow sea turtles to nest, he said. Marco’s north beach is over 1000-feet wide.

Estimated cost for the project is $3-4 million and could be completed within 2 years. The city would request money from county commissioners for the project.

Council presentations

Council heard three presentations Monday.

Honig shared information collected from Florida cities charting debt and taxation. Honig compared like cities that owned water/sewer utilities with populations ranging from 7,500 to 100,000.

“City debt is the highest in the state of Florida,” Honig said. “Municipal taxes and water sewer are second highest in the state.”

Council agreed to continue discussing city debt at a later meeting and to consider funding some future capital projects without increasing debt.

Sacher presented an overview of city pension plans. He described benefits and pension plans as generous, asking councilors to consider reviewing them as the city goes forward.

“Benefits are a death sentence for cities,” said Councilor Amadeo Patricca after the presentation. “We need a survival plan for Marco Island.”

Lee Rubenstein and Charles Hartman of the Veterans’ Memorial Fundraising Committee presented plans for a new freedom fountain and flag plaza in Veterans’ Community Park. The group was given permission by council to raise funds for the projects through the Community Foundation of Collier County.

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Comments » 5

ajm3s writes:

"Sacher presented an overview of city pension plans. He described benefits and pension plans as generous, asking councilors to consider reviewing them as the city goes forward."

Generous is an understatement. But for a more informative story go to Sun Times.

http://www.marcoislandflorida.com/art...

Here is a quote from the Sun Times story:

"Council members were told the unfortunate part of the pension picture is the fact that previous councils and administrations underfunded the pension plan and the liability or shortfall is around $3.4 million"

Another tidbit:

"Sacher also recommended to his fellow board members that the employee benefits committee be dissolved and a council committee be appointed to oversee future benefits discussions. Although the employee committee has no true powers, Sacher drew the analogy of it being similar to “putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”

Folks pay attention, because some on council list the following as the major issues:

"he [Councillor Honig] pointed out that several projects of necessity are looming – the replacement of the Smokehouse Bay Bridge, the much-needed renovation and update of the central fire station and the replacement of Mackle Park Community Center."

Spend spend spend because of need need need!

On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is of highest need, I believe items 2 and 3 of Honig's list are very low on the scale of need, namely, renovation of fire house and replacement of Mackle Park Community Center. So how did it get to Mr. Honigs top three list of need? He says the devil is in the details.

PAY ATTENTION!

Do not be dazzled by comments that the devil is in the details, because sometimes the most near sighted can distinguish need from wants.

However, in a quest to seek more detail, how much was spent for simple maintenance during the years of use. I would suspect that the maintenance at the fire house and Community Center is minimal thereby enhancing damage and reducing use expectancy. Now ask who is responsible for routine maintenance of building functions i.e. HVAC, house cleaning, painting etc. I suspect it is scrutinized and held to a minimal to keep operating costs low but in the end eventually leads to higher cost renovations that impact capital requisitions.....

Voila! Did we not hear testimony of the outcome of lack of maintenance of the water facility before purchace by the city and the excessive renovation costs required....minimal yearly maintenance program during operation has consequences.

Now ask yourself, is fire and parks department creating a similar fate as the water department fiasco.

ajm3s writes:

To continue on my thread of why this city cannot manage its own facilities, let me surmise as to how Station 51 is now shutdown:

http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/inde...

Station 51 is now shutdown due to a roof leak that "... has caused interior wall damage to the Kitchen, Day Room and Bathroom/ Shower. A remediation company is on-site conducting demolition of the walls, cleaning and operating air scrubbers to remove moisture. Reconstruction will begin next week, it is anticipated that the Fire Station will be closed for approximately two weeks. Engine 51 and personnel have been moved to Station 50."

http://www.marconews.com/news/2011/ju...

If you recall when council approved opening Station 50 two years ago as a means to reduce response times, they apparently forgot to adequately budget for needed repairs:

"With an overall fire department budget of $4,530,000, the department’s budget contains $35,000 for Station 51. The added $16,000 comes from revenue derived from impact fees, which can only be used to pay for growth-related expenses."

Now, I anticipate the Fire Chief will be the first before the council to claim our buildings are in need of repair to support his claim for the major renovations for Station 50 on San Marco....

My claim the budgets for building maintenance are woefully inadequate which lead to situations that are now apparent in Station 50...the roof leaks and the damage is extensive. Supporting my claim the city is more interested in capital outlays rather than providing adequate funding for maintenance.

From my experience, this is a major roof leak that was not addressed in a timely manner, and further confirms my suspicion that budgeting for maintenance is held to a minimum waiting for more drastic damage resulting in station shutdown now estimated to be two weeks.

I can hear the arguments for a new facility on Elkam and major renovations for Station 50 on San Marco, when there is was no proper funding for maintenance from the start. Even older buildings can last for decades when properly maintained.

But on Marco it is more sexy for a ground breaking and ribbon cutting ceremony by council and city directors hailing the new facilities and major capital improvements.

And to that I add we have a city building inspection department with competent inspectors.

GOD HELP US ALL!

ajm3s writes:

It is this same budgeting crap that seeps into the council chambers and actually allowed the Fire Chief to dupe, yes dupe a CEO in believing the numbers that were provided for the $400K fire boat...only $5000 more than maintaining a 26' Donzi with much limited capability...that is the claim.

Time to recheck the numbers! Go to page 31

http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/modu...

However, page 38 provides the most distorted comparison that I have ever seen for a 20 year to year comparison.

Just for a tease, consider all the options and added instrumentation and equipment on the new boat, and ask yourself, will it be fully operational in 10 years without any cost as shown on the right hand side of yearly cost figures.

I don't believe there will be a roof leak on the boat, but with more sophisticate hydraulics and instrumentation, I expect some major issue to occur, given the maintenance budget is estimated to be only $3000-$6000 for oil filters etc. leading to poor and incomplete maintenance/replacement schedule .... to which the Fire Chief can then make another request for a new and improved fire boat, analogous to that he makes today for Station 51 renovations...

Are we seeing a pattern?

ajm3s writes:

in response to ajm3s:

To continue on my thread of why this city cannot manage its own facilities, let me surmise as to how Station 51 is now shutdown:

http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/inde...

Station 51 is now shutdown due to a roof leak that "... has caused interior wall damage to the Kitchen, Day Room and Bathroom/ Shower. A remediation company is on-site conducting demolition of the walls, cleaning and operating air scrubbers to remove moisture. Reconstruction will begin next week, it is anticipated that the Fire Station will be closed for approximately two weeks. Engine 51 and personnel have been moved to Station 50."

http://www.marconews.com/news/2011/ju...

If you recall when council approved opening Station 50 two years ago as a means to reduce response times, they apparently forgot to adequately budget for needed repairs:

"With an overall fire department budget of $4,530,000, the department’s budget contains $35,000 for Station 51. The added $16,000 comes from revenue derived from impact fees, which can only be used to pay for growth-related expenses."

Now, I anticipate the Fire Chief will be the first before the council to claim our buildings are in need of repair to support his claim for the major renovations for Station 50 on San Marco....

My claim the budgets for building maintenance are woefully inadequate which lead to situations that are now apparent in Station 50...the roof leaks and the damage is extensive. Supporting my claim the city is more interested in capital outlays rather than providing adequate funding for maintenance.

From my experience, this is a major roof leak that was not addressed in a timely manner, and further confirms my suspicion that budgeting for maintenance is held to a minimum waiting for more drastic damage resulting in station shutdown now estimated to be two weeks.

I can hear the arguments for a new facility on Elkam and major renovations for Station 50 on San Marco, when there is was no proper funding for maintenance from the start. Even older buildings can last for decades when properly maintained.

But on Marco it is more sexy for a ground breaking and ribbon cutting ceremony by council and city directors hailing the new facilities and major capital improvements.

And to that I add we have a city building inspection department with competent inspectors.

GOD HELP US ALL!

Erratum: "If you recall when council approved opening Station 50 two years ago as a means to reduce response times, they apparently forgot to adequately budget for needed repairs"

Correction: ....Station 51..

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

in response to ajm3s:

Erratum: "If you recall when council approved opening Station 50 two years ago as a means to reduce response times, they apparently forgot to adequately budget for needed repairs"

Correction: ....Station 51..

Great post! I agree with all you've said. It's not only the fire stations that require regular cleaning, maintenance and repairs, it's all the city's infrastructure including bridges, fire stations, community center, and all our equipment and facilities. It's insane to build something, let it sit for years without any cleaning, maintenance or repairs; and then claim that it's time to tear it down and build new ones - or resort to a multi-million dollar "expansion". Don't you do oil changes and tune up's for your cars? If you have a roof leak in your house, do you ignore it for years until it's easier to tear it down and rebuild than it would have been to do the repairs on a regular basis? The same for water pipe leaks - do you just ignore them until you have mold in your walls? Where is the common sense in today's society? Thanks, Bill Harris

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