Guest Commentary: Our City Council has set a new standard
Many residents have been following the city’s pursuit of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (“COPCN”) for quite some time. I have always been a strong believer in the concept of a state legislative solution to protect and enhance municipal home rule while changing the conversation between the city and county that had by all accounts reached an impasse.
A state legislative solution would grant the city of Marco Island an exemption from the requirement of obtaining a COPCN from Collier County in order to provide emergency transport services. This had never been attempted before by prior city councils, but over the last couple months there have been some exciting developments.
In October of 2017, the city attorney and I began work on a draft bill for the state legislature that would apply to the city of Marco Island (a “local bill”). The draft was supported by our local legislative delegation (Rep. Bob Rommel, Rep. Byron Donalds and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo). The language of the local bill was subsequently finalized and included requirements that the city apply to the county for a COPCN and conduct a third party financial analysis of the costs, both of which have been completed. The city must also hold a referendum in August 2018 for our citizens to weigh in. The City Council voted 7-0 in December of 2017 supporting a binding referendum.
The language of a referendum needs to meet certain requirements under Florida law. I have been working on a draft with our city attorney and over the past few council meetings we have engaged in collaborative discussions, inviting input, commentary, and concerns from the public and all Councilors to finalize a referendum as a collective representative body. It has been an exciting and worthwhile project as all suggestions have been considered. I expect that we will have a final draft submitted to our Collier County Supervisor of Elections in early spring with the ballot-ready well in advance of the June 2018 deadline.
Since October, I have been working closely with our House District Representative Bob Rommel, who has been a tremendous ally for our City. Rep. Rommel filed our bill in January and navigated it successfully through its three assigned committees (Local, Federal, & Veterans Affairs subcommittee, Health & Human Services, and Government Accountability) by votes of 12-0, 15-1, and 22-0 respectively. It was then referred to the full House in March, passing 112-1. On March 8, it was then heard by the Senate, passing 38-0. The bill’s next destination is the desk of Governor Rick Scott who will have 15 days from receipt of the bill to affix his signature.
It should also be noted that our City Council strategy also includes continuing positive discussions with our county through the standard COPCN application process as well as negotiations on increased ambulance service within the current system. By moving forward with a successful state legislative strategy it has created an opportunity for more reflection and discussion between our two governmental bodies, which is encouraging.
Our City Council has set a new standard through unchartered territory that favors bold action with a steadfast dedication to the needs of our citizens. Ultimately, the choice will be theirs to make via referendum in August. This right of self-determination is why I have championed this push. It is the heart of both self and local governance. The process is not yet complete, but today our City is close to achieving something that has never been accomplished before.
If you’d like to discuss this or any other issue further, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-315-2089.