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On Monday, Oct. 5, the Marco Island City Council will attempt to settle a long-standing debate about the city's utility water-sewer rates.

A new rate schedule has been proposed that may make the rates more palatable for many rate payers, but it comes with some controversy – some of the island's larger water users may be paying higher rates, but some smaller users may get some relief.

The council has held at least two workshops on the issue and an ordinance has been created to represent the formulas with which a majority of council members seem comfortable.

Councilman Larry Honig has been skeptical about adopting a new rate structure and is not sold on the approach.

"I still am very concerned that the utility capital plans are excessive and vary too much from one day to another," said Honig. "The consultant took the council's numbers and created a plan whose math may work, but calls for massive new capital spending and requires homeowners to install deduct meters that may cost upwards of $2,000. In addition, no one knows exactly what rates may be."

Many of Honig's colleagues on the council disagree.

The council in May had authorized the City Manager to contract with Raftelis Financial Consultants to provide an analysis of a rate structure that utilized parameters provided by the council. Council held another workshop last Wednesday to meet with the consultants to discuss their findings.

Raftelis has reviewed all the numbers provided to them and confirmed it did in fact meet the sufficiency issues regarding income.

The first of two public hearings on the new rates will be held on Monday.

Rental ordinance

In other action, the much-debated rental registration ordinance will have the second of two readings required to have it removed from the city books. In May, the ordinance was passed and then in July, a group began obtaining signatures for a referendum to repeal the legislation. That petition drive, launched by private citizens, the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors and members of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, collected more than the number of signatures required.

The referendum was to take place in March of next year as part of the presidential primary. This would allow for no financial impact to the city and the citizens would have the final say.

At the last council meeting, council member Kenneth Honecker moved that the ordinance be repealed.

"I'm sorry, this issue has become just too negative," said Honecker.

Honecker and council members Bob Brown, Amadeo Petricca and Larry Sacher agreed and voted on the first reading to repeal the ordinance.

Council members Joe Batte, Honig and Victor Rios preferred that the item go to referendum.

If you go

Monday's meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at council chambers off Bald Eagle Drive.

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