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The Marco Island City Council met Monday night to review the budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

Finance Director and Interim City Manager Guillermo 'Gil' Polanco presented a brief overview of the proposed budget to council, and noted that approximately 55 percent of it relates to city employee wages and benefits.

"When you're looking at a budget ... you realize the assets aren't only our infrastructure and our buildings, but these folks that work for our city," he said. "Our biggest asset is our human resources, and that's demonstrated in this budget."

Chair Larry Honig said there are indicators that city staff's workload has increased while its population, and compensation, has largely remained the same.

“When you look at the employee survey and you read many of the comments that were made by the city staff … one of the things that comes out is, ‘Wait a minute – you’re asking me to do so much and I don’t make enough money.’ Well maybe part of the problem is that we whipsaw the government every year by changing the amounts that are spent in these departments so dramatically that it’s very difficult for you to staff up for when the ramp up is required by the citizens or by City Council,” he said. “And so you can see how an employee could say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, that’s not fair.’”

For that reason, Honig recommended that expenditures be more evenly paced year over year so employees and projects are not ‘whipsawed.’

More: City of Marco Island employees feel grim about the future

Council also discussed the difficult position it's in with regards to granting the needs and requests of the city's various departments and committees. Councilors expressed their priority preferences, but ultimately agreed that it would be best for Polanco to make the decisions.

The long road(s) ahead

At the beginning of April Public Works Director Tim Pinter gave the Marco Island City Council an update on the city’s annual road resurfacing program. The program, which is in its third year, originally began with the intent of resurfacing the roads outside of the Septic Tank Replacement Program (STRP) districts because all of the roads within the districts were resurfaced after the new sewer system was installed.

More: Marco Island City Council discusses city's failing roads

Now, however, it appears that some of the roads within the STRP districts were inadequately repaved. So he gave the council three options:

  1. Continue with the program as planned and resurface the roads of one of the oldest portions of the island.
  2. Temporarily stop the resurfacing program and concentrate the repaving operations on major roadways that are suffering from failure of the STRP paving, including Kendall Drive, Tigertail Court and San Marco Road.
  3. Or resurface a portion of the failed STRP roadways and also repave a smaller group of roads outside of the STRP districts.

Council re-visited Pinter's presentation during its special-called budget meeting Monday night and agreed to allocate an additional $1 million to the road resurfacing program for a total of $1.5 million for fiscal year 2018. Pinter will decide where to spend that money, with council input.

Council's next meeting is 5:30 p.m., Aug. 21, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. Its next budget discussion will be in September.

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