Marco Island City Council votes to start manager search over with new consultant

Finance Director Gill Polanco presents the second reading of millage rates. Marco's City Council met Monday, approving millage rates and budget, but voting to start over in the search for a new City Manager. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Finance Director Gill Polanco presents the second reading of millage rates. Marco's City Council met Monday, approving millage rates and budget, but voting to start over in the search for a new City Manager. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— The City Council meeting Monday was a two-for-one special, with a “special-called” meeting at 3:30 preceding the regular City Council meeting at 5:30.

The special-called meeting was supposed to give the councilors the chance to review finalists for the city manager position, soon to be vacant due to the retirement of incumbent Jim Riviere. But by the end of the session, the council was back to square one in the quest for a new chief executive, voting to terminate the contract of search firm Colin Baenziger Associates (CBA), or allowing them to withdraw, and accepting Riviere’s departure at his previously announced date of Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, although he had expressed his willingness to remain onboard while the City Council searched for his replacement.

“I reject this entire process. I don’t want to go through with it,” said Council Chairman Joe Batte, calling the search “flawed from the beginning. We need to admit we made a mistake. Let’s put a caretaker into our city to watch us for a while” and start fresh to find the “very best person for the city.”

The motion to go a different direction rather than CBA, and accept Riviere’s resignation, was made by Councilor Larry Honig, and passed 5-2, with councilors Larry Sacher and Chuck Kiester opposed.

So the councilors will have to come up with a new search firm, a new slate of manager candidates, and an interim city manager, as well as, eventually, an actual permanent new city manager. They scheduled another special-called meeting for Sept. 23 to begin the process, and the city attorney was instructed to open negotiations with Slavin Management Consultants, another “headhunter” firm who had been considered in the original search firm selection process.

In the regular session, the city tax or millage rate of 1.96 mills for city operations, and an additional 0.1163 for debt service, was ratified at the same level as the meeting two weeks ago on its first reading. In public comments, A.K. Battaglia urged a lower rate, although saying “I know it will fall on deaf ears.” The vote was 7-0.

The vote on the budget, the next stop in the mandated process of approving millage rates and budget, followed after a repeat discussion of additional fire department staff and equipment. Council agreed on a consensus vote to authorize Councilor Amadeo Petricca with Collier County for at least one additional ambulance to be stationed on the island. With the intent of strengthening his hand, City Council voted 4-3 to remove the three new fire-rescue personnel requested from the budget, although the money was shifted so that it did not change the budget number. Councilors Honig, Kiester, and Sacher dissented. The budget was then passed on a unanimous 7-0 vote, as were the Hideaway Beach Special Taxing District millage and budget.

The councilors also voted unanimously to raise utility rates by seven percent, for fear that they would be unable to refinance the utility bonds at favorable rates, with water and sewer usage having dropped nine percent over the last several years, and rates not having been raised for two years. These concerns had been voiced by Robert Ori, the city’s bond financing consultant, at a previous council meeting.

On the recommendation of Finance Director Gill Polanco, who had shepherded the votes on the millage and budgets, City Council voted 7-0 to adopt an ERP, or enterprise resource planning system. This overarching software package is designed to update and integrate the financial, accounting, management information, human resources, utility billing, building services and customer relations. The purpose, said Polanco’s slide presentation, “is to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside the boundaries of the organization and manage the connections to outside stakeholders.”

The councilors also listened to Community Services Director Bryan Milk on the subject of what to charge private enterprises for parking large numbers of vehicles on city-owned property, indicating they were not satisfied with the fees currently being collected. They ratified, unanimously, the contract with the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, the rank-and-file police officers’ union, and heard an update on the ongoing discussion of replacing or rehabbing the Smokehouse Bay Bridge.

Council listened to Mike Barbush of the Goodland Civic Association as he requested $1.7 million to upgrade the access road to Goodland off State Road 92, starting with something like 10 to 15 percent of that for engineering studies. Nicole Johnson of the Conservancy rose to say that no improvement of the road that involves destruction of mangroves is advisable or allowed.

One city appointment was made with little difficulty. When Bob Brown was appointed to the City Council by the members following Larry Magel’s resignation, his position on the Planning Board came vacant. As Brown had been Batte’s appointee, it fell to the chairman to name a replacement, and he chose former Planning Board member Charlette Roman.

With the hour growing late, Councilor Honig agreed to put off his presentation on the city’s debt level to the following regular council meeting, at which time the group also agreed to listen to Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy’s presentation on the need for additional employees.

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Comments » 5

26yearsonmarco writes:

I cannot believe, out of a staff of 220 people, we do not have one person qualified to take over the managers job of a 24 square mile island.

deltarome writes:

Chief Murphy is always looking for ways to justify increasing his staff number. He is only looking out for our best interests....

Konfuzius writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

I cannot believe, out of a staff of 220 people, we do not have one person qualified to take over the managers job of a 24 square mile island.

Every 132 post makes since. They hire a consultant to delegate the blame if the new city manager flops again.

ajm3s writes:

in response to deltarome:

Chief Murphy is always looking for ways to justify increasing his staff number. He is only looking out for our best interests....

The public discussion led by Mr. Petricca was a clear showing of who on Council truly understands the total picture regarding protecting the safety of the citizens of Marco Island in light of the tax dollars we give to the county.

Mr. Petricca, Mr. Honecker, Mr. Batte and Mr. Brown should be applauded for seeking support from the Collier County commensurate with the funding we provide the county.

The Fire Dept under Mr. Murphy is constantly demanding that it add personnel and equipment to best address the emergencies on this island. What he will not address is the increase in MEDICAL relative to fire/alarm calls and the need to transport those folks off island, of which the QVR will be deficient....and to which I believe the folks are most concerned about, given the debacle earlier this year.

What is apparent is his inability to live up to his promises in working with the Collier county in seeking additional EMS services.

For an historical point of reference, Mr. Murphy stated that the County would provide an additional EMS vehicle and staffing if the city would re-open Station 51 on Elkam, November of 2010.

"Fire Chief Mike Murphy reported that Collier County EMS has agreed to provide three firefighter/EMTs, one per shift, to augment Marco Island’s safety personnel. Along with a fire truck and emergency transport vehicle, said Murphy, this represented a $300,000 to 400,000 savings from the city’s budget, while providing improved service."

Reference: http://www.marconews.com/news/2010/no...

Or go to time stamp 2:55 to here the pitch yourself of the council meeting:

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

Perhaps, I am misinformed, or not privy to the details of this promise or changes that were not made public? Did I miss something because I believe this never happened? I do not believe we have a second EMS vehicle stationed at Station 51.

My observation, Mr. Murphy does NOT want more EMS vehicles from the County, he would rather have his own ambulance service and medical director.

I hope other council members can recall his sales pitches of November, 2010.

Until today, I was confused as to who is really working on behalf of the citizen of Marco Island in getting commensurate services for the amount of monies we provide the county. I now know four councilors who know where the money is and voted to begin the process that was not completed by Mr. Murphy.

From my perspective, Mr. Murphy as a manager of emergency services for the City of Marco Island is NOT working on how to best utilize citizens' tax dollars in concert with county services.

Interestingly, Mr. Murphy was passionate when he made his plea to the Budget Subcommittee last month to add a QVR and three firefighters and was able to convince Mr. Sacher, Mr. Honig and Mr. Kiester. I only wish Mr. Murphy was as passionate in his conversations with Collier county EMS for more support.

MrBreeze writes:

ajm3s Again, you have it right. When can we put you on the City Council to apply your thinking. The citizens of Marco Island need you.

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