This commentary has been updated since its original publication.
Earlier this year, the City Council approved (6 to 1) my three-pronged approach for the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (“COPCN”) to improve the level of service for our island residents.
This would allow our city to explore multiple avenues including submitting our COPCN application to the county, negotiating with Collier County to receive a second full-time ambulance, and also working with our state legislative delegation to amend state law so that our city can control its own destiny.
Currently, the city cannot have its own COPCN license without first seeking and then being granted approval by the county. We have a right to control our own destiny and this is precisely why I believe we needed to fight this issue on multiple fronts.
Collier County has made it clear that the city will not be getting a second full time ambulance, in spite of our best efforts to negotiate a reasonable solution, and also that the city would face an uphill battle (if not outright opposition) to an application for a COPCN through the county. What’s the next step for Marco Island?
I have worked with our city attorney to draft a local bill to exempt Marco Island from the need to obtain a COPCN through the county and instead would allow us to meet the state criteria and have a license issued directly by the Department of Health. The local bill would not go into effect unless a majority of Marco Island citizens voted in favor during a referendum in August 2018. The City Council has included a local bill as our number one priority for the 2018 legislative session.
Many Marco Island citizens came out to our council workshops on the COPCN issue to express their support for this issue earlier this year. I remember many passionate pleas from different island organization leaders telling council to move forward. I’ve seen many emails blasts and sat down with members of our community who support these efforts. In the latest Marco Island Civic Association survey, 64.9 percent of respondents answered “yes” to the following question, “Would you support an additional ambulance year-round, quicker paramedic and fire response provided by and controlled by our local Marco Island Fire Rescue Department even if it meant a tax increase?”
I’ve spoken to all of our legislative delegation about this issue and how important it is to our citizens. Senator Passidomo has stated how important it is to her to see strong support from the community before she agrees to support this local bill, otherwise it might get delayed until at least 2019. If you are one of the 64.9 percent of residents who said “yes” to the COPCN question in the MICA survey, if you were one of the citizens who came out to our council workshops and supported the COPCN individually or on behalf of your organization, now is the time to act.
Contact our local legislative delegation and tell them that you want them to support this local bill in the upcoming 2018 session. If Marco Island votes to ratify the local bill in August of 2018, citizens shouldn’t be subject to the risk of going through another legislative session in 2019 before they get a final answer.
During Hurricane Irma, Collier County pulled our only EMS unit from the island which left our citizens in a dangerous situation but for the efforts of our city fire rescue department. Our citizens cannot be placed at risk like that again with more unnecessary delays.
In the meantime, no doors have been shut with the county. I know I’d be happy to continue to discuss this issue with them to try and find a solution that works for the citizens of Marco Island and Collier County. Unless the county drastically alters its stated opinion, the local bill is our best shot. It is imperative that our delegation support our city’s efforts with this local bill in the 2018 session.
Here’s the contact information for all three of our delegation members (all of their support is critical) and if you email, please copy me via JGrifoni@marcocitycouncil.com too.
Senator Kathleen Passidomo (District 28)
Phone: (239) 417-6205
Representative Bob Rommel (District 106)
Phone: (239) 417-6200
Representative Byron Donalds (District 80)
Phone: (239) 417-6270
I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this more with you, with our County Commission, and with our State Legislators. Please call me at 239-315-2089 or email me at JGrifoni@MarcoCityCouncil.com so we can talk more about this issue. Your participation is important!