Marco Island City Council takes aim at spending; listens to plea from Milk for investigation

Bryan Milk, fired community affairs director, leaves Marco Island’s City Council meeting Tuesday after asking for an investigation into his termination. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Bryan Milk, fired community affairs director, leaves Marco Island’s City Council meeting Tuesday after asking for an investigation into his termination. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Interim City Manager Guillermo Polanco gives a report on the Smokehouse Bridge at Tuesday’s Marco Island City Council meeting. Seated next to Polanco is Lina Upham, purchasing and fiscal analyst for the city. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Interim City Manager Guillermo Polanco gives a report on the Smokehouse Bridge at Tuesday’s Marco Island City Council meeting. Seated next to Polanco is Lina Upham, purchasing and fiscal analyst for the city. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Jeff Poteet, general manager of Marco Island’s utilities, answers questions about purchasing five new vehicles during the Marco Island City Council meeting on Tuesday. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Jeff Poteet, general manager of Marco Island’s utilities, answers questions about purchasing five new vehicles during the Marco Island City Council meeting on Tuesday. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— A promise made in 2013 when the budget subcommittee said, “no more vehicles in 2014,” was put to the test Tuesday.

But what could have resulted in a course change turned out to be no more than a bump in the road for Marco Island’s City Council.

Council voted 6-0 to turn down a request that would have replaced five fleet vehicles for its utilities department. Councilor Chuck Kiester was absent from the meeting.

Jeff Poteet, general manager of utilities, requested $126,486 to replace five aging 2004 fleet vehicles. Vehicles are scheduled for replacement on an 8-year cycle.

Replacement is based on each vehicle’s age, mileage, maintenance costs and changing utility needs, Poteet said.

Council questioned the automatic replacement criteria and the department’s lack of preventative maintenance records. Until recently, the department reacted to repairs rather than subscribing to a formal maintenance program, Poteet told council.

Next, the utilities manager requested expense items outside approved capital expenditures. Projects totaling $340,000 were scheduled for 2013 but were never started, he said.

Interim City Manager Guillermo Polanco explained that funds were appropriated for the projects in 2013. Councilors questioned why those funds were not in the released reserves moved forward from the 2013 budget.

Because the projects were never started, Polanco said, council needed to approve the revised capital budget for the funds to roll over. Councilor Amadeo Petricca made the motion to approve the revisions and council agreed 4-2. Councilors Joe Batte and Larry Honig voted against it.

Council discussed three unfunded projects: $8 million for Smokehouse Bridge, $2.8 million for renovations to the Fire Station and $2 million for Mackle Park’s Community Center.

Bids for the Smokehouse Bridge are expected to be returned to the city in March. The other two projects are not as close to being funded. Council looked at cash, loans or a combination of the two as possible avenues for financing the three projects.

“These are real heavy items and big expenses,” Batte said. “We just hired a new city manager, and I would be very comfortable giving him a look at this before we make a decision.”

Council agreed to hold discussion until the new city manager is in place.

In other business, councilors unanimously approved paying for a master’s degree in business administration for Polanco. Tuition will be paid for an online curriculum at a public institution in Florida. Polanco will pursue the degree in his free time. The cost of tuition was not available at the time of the vote.

During public comment, former Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk outlined events leading up to his firing. He asked council for an investigation to clear his name.

Polanco fired Milk for failing to disclose a business relationship with Mike and Lisa Kelly of Progressive Auto while evaluating land use matters that could affect them.

Milk questioned why Asst. Police Chief Dave Baer changed the locks on his office immediately after the firing.

“All my personal belongings were still inside. Do I look like a criminal?” Milk asked council.

Police Chief Don Hunter said the locks were changed to preserve the space and contents. He was not sure what council would want to do; and in essence, it could have been a crime scene, he said.

In accordance with public comment protocol, councilors did not respond to Milk.

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Comments » 9

MrBreeze writes:

I wonder if they will not maintain the new Fire Boat also. Vehicles and equipment on Marco Island should last 20 years with the stable climate that they work under. Maintence and upkeep does not seem present as the City workers just believe they will get new units. Again, a waste of the taxpayers money.

Konfuzius writes:

"Police Chief Don Hunter said the locks were changed to preserve the space and contents. He was not sure what council would want to do; and in essence, it could have been a crime scene, he said."

City Council beat around the bush! And Chief Hunter pussyfoot around!
And we - the citizen of Marco Island - shall buy a pig in a poke!
I guess that is all to much. Let an outside task force independently investigate "WHAT"S GOING ON" here.

"In accordance with public comment protocol, councilors did not respond to Milk."

OK! City Councilor have not respond to Mr. Milk.
But at least to the citizen of Marco Island.
If City Council has a skeleton in their closet - or some of them - than they have to swallow the bitter pill!
Or much better - the consequences.
That is democracy!

1Paradiselost writes:

Mr. K, You don't seem to understand.... Let me repeat. Florida is a "Right To Work" State. There is no democracy in the "right to work" laws.

States that have "Right to work laws" also have on "lower wages" on average, however that's another conversation

An employer CAN let you go for any reason they choose. As you the employee as NO RECOURSE!

Question.. Did this person have a financial agreement with the Kellys. YES he did!

He got fired for not disclosing that relationship!

It's that simple! Move on!

Konfuzius writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

Mr. K, You don't seem to understand.... Let me repeat. Florida is a "Right To Work" State. There is no democracy in the "right to work" laws.

States that have "Right to work laws" also have on "lower wages" on average, however that's another conversation

An employer CAN let you go for any reason they choose. As you the employee as NO RECOURSE!

Question.. Did this person have a financial agreement with the Kellys. YES he did!

He got fired for not disclosing that relationship!

It's that simple! Move on!

I understand you. If he takes money - done.
But Mr. Milk said he has NOT!
In my opinion it seems to me now that he is fired by political reasons. If that is true it will cost the city money. Our tax-payers money. Has nothing to do with a "Right To Work" State.
Or did I miss something?

Konfuzius writes:

in response to Konfuzius:

I understand you. If he takes money - done.
But Mr. Milk said he has NOT!
In my opinion it seems to me now that he is fired by political reasons. If that is true it will cost the city money. Our tax-payers money. Has nothing to do with a "Right To Work" State.
Or did I miss something?

If you are right, council had to vote with one voice.
But: "At a council meeting Jan. 6, Marco Island councilmen voted 5-2 against an independent investigation into the matter. Councilmen Larry Honig and Chuck Kiester voted in favor of the investigation."

marco826 writes:

So Utilities Department has a fleet of trucks purchased in 2004 but no Maintenance Records. They did maintenance only reactively rather than proactively. Jeff Poteet, general manager of utilities should be FIRED! People keep maintenance records on their personal vehicles, why should;t the Department? Unless of course its not your money and you simply don't care. More and more rooster roaches coming out about Marco. Worse every day. I think we're only starting to scratch the surface. I say again, fire the Utilities Manager for his lack of common sense and protecting the equipment which is owned by the good people of Marco....Such a disgrace. He is managing nothing!

Konfuzius writes:

in response to marco826:

So Utilities Department has a fleet of trucks purchased in 2004 but no Maintenance Records. They did maintenance only reactively rather than proactively. Jeff Poteet, general manager of utilities should be FIRED! People keep maintenance records on their personal vehicles, why should;t the Department? Unless of course its not your money and you simply don't care. More and more rooster roaches coming out about Marco. Worse every day. I think we're only starting to scratch the surface. I say again, fire the Utilities Manager for his lack of common sense and protecting the equipment which is owned by the good people of Marco....Such a disgrace. He is managing nothing!

Just the tip of the iceberg!
This city council promised us in the weeks before election to clean up the dirt. Nothing happened! I supported them. That is over now.

MrBreeze writes:

Marco826 You are correct the manager should be fired. No excuse for not maintaining the equipment. Just looking to the taxpayer to squander more dollars in new equipment.

Like I said, the equipment should last a minimum 20 years with good maintence.

mahiman writes:

I use to notice employees smoking in those vehicles!

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