City Council takes up rental ordinance, taxes at Monday meeting
The Marco Island City Council goes back into session at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 20, and is expected to take up the much-debated rental ordinance as well as set a preliminary property rate for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
In the last two months, opponents of the recently passed short-term rental ordinance acquired sufficient signatures to force council either to rescind the legislation or place it on a ballot for the voters to approve or disapprove.
The rental legislation approved by 4-3 vote in May requires the following:
• Registration of any unit, whether it be condo or single-family home being placed into short-term rental status;
• Inspection of those units for health and safety standards;
• Limitations on the occupancy of the unit to two persons for bedroom, plus two additional parties;
• Contact information and names in case of violations and to provide for resolution of those violations such as noise, trash and parking.
Opponents of the ordinance have complained it is an overreach on the part of the local government and adds additional bureaucracy. They also fear it may hurt real estate sales and drive away potential investors.
Both the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers Beach are looking at similar legislation that involve registration and safety inspections. The driving force behind the Fort Myers Beach effort lies with life-safety issues due to a recent fatality in a rental home. The fire department there is seeking inspections and registration of those units that involve many popular duplex structures.
The situation in Fort Lauderdale deals with more of the quality of life and safety issues that Marco Island has been debating over the last several years. That plan will be voted on by city commissioners on Aug. 18.
In a memo on July 13, City Manager Roger Hernstadt wrote to city council that he had determined the petition and its signatures had met the sufficiency requirements as outlined by the City Charter. By doing so, he placed the ordinance into suspension.
The next step will be a decision on whether the council will rescind the ordinance or set a date for ratification or rejection of that legislation by the voters. There is a third choice – the withdrawal of the petition by the committee that collected the signatures, but that does not seem probable.
City rate rate
As part of the annual budget process, a "not to exceed" property rate must be set in July and sent off to the state. That is dictated by Florida law. The city must have a balanced budget and a tax rate that represents the funds necessary to meet those needs.
It is anticipated that council will set the rate at $2.0466 per $1,000 of valuation to cover general operating expenses. This represents the same rate paid last year by property owners. This number may be reduced when the council finalizes its 2015-2016 budget in September, but it may not exceed that number.
If the $2.0466 figure is maintained, a $400,000 home on Marco would see a tax bill of $818.64 for city services. This would include, but not be limited to, the operation of city hall, fire, police, recreation and parks, public works. The long-term capital needs program, the "bucket list," also is included within those numbers.
It does not include school, county or state taxes. The water and sewer utility also is a separate budget and is funded not by ad-valorem taxes (a tax based upon the value of property), but by the water and sewer rates established for users.
The city manager will be presenting a formal budget, detailing all spending and income in the near future for council's review. The finalized budget will be voted on at a meeting in September after review and public input in the next two months. The new tax rate, when approved, would be effective Oct. 1.
If you go
The Marco Island City Council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at council chambers on the city campus on Bald Eagle Drive at the intersection of San Marco Road.