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The Marco Island City Council held a relatively quiet and short meeting on Aug. 7, cruising through the agenda in record time and adjourning in less than 60 minutes. Absent from the meeting were councilmen Joe Batte, who was dealing with a family emergency, and Larry Honig, who was vacationing with his wife out of the country.

Their agenda items would see the council amending impact fees for the police department. That action is required under state law and a review of the fees are to be undertaken. Those fees can only be utilized to help provide for capital costs due to growth. Council voted 4-1 in favor with, councilman Victor Rios objecting.

In other action, the council approved the passage of the non-ad valorem assessment roles for those properties with the STRP districts around the island that opted for the 20 year deferment of their financial liability regarding the expansion of the wastewater utility services to their areas. That action is a house keeping requirement every year until those costs are retired.

The city attorney provided a detailed description of what his office has been working on behalf of the city during July. Those items ranged from personnel issues to protecting city assets as part of foreclosure actions and collecting liens.

"This is the first time after many requests that we've seen a detailed list of charges and action items," said councilman Ken Honecker. Members had been critical of the former attorney's office which failed to keep them abreast of the issues and costs.

WASTEWATER PROJECT

As the city has upgraded and rebuilt the wastewater treatment facility, one of the last major projects to be accomplished has been in the upgrading and replacement of what is known as the "Headworks."

Throughout the island, there are approximately 100 lift and pumping stations which direct wastewater back to the central treatment facility on Elkcam Circle. The "Headworks" provides for the initial filtering of the waste as it arrives at the plant. The older system was not able to be replaced due to a lack of physical space until recently and the outdated system is in need of replacement.

The newer system will filter out larger contaminants from the wastewater flow at it enters into the first stage of treatment.

"The newer system is appropriate for our upgraded membrane system and will allow for a more robust filtering effort," said Jeff Poteet, the General Manager of the Utility Department.

The $5,134,000 contract was awarded on Monday evening by council to Florida Design Contractors, Inc. for completion of the project. They were the lowest responsible bidder.

LED LIGHTING

Councilman Rios had been absent during a recent meeting when staff reported back to the entire council on its review of converting existing street lighting to LED fixtures. Rios had asked to have staff review that issue earlier this year.

He initially requested reconsideration of the vote to not move forward on the replacement of older fixtures. As he was not present on the prevailing side of the vote when taken, he was not allowed to make that motion due to the rules. However, it was agreed that it could be looked at in the context of the entire operational budget when council takes it up in September.

First 2015-16 hearing Sept. 9

Council will be dealing with at least two controversial issues beginning in September, the first being a report from the City Attorney regarding the issues surrounding The Esplanade. The city's attorney will be prepared at that time to walk the council through all of the issues and make a recommendation to them on resolution of the matter. That matter will be taken up in a workshop at 1 p.m. in council chambers on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

On Sept. 9, council will also hold the first of two public hearing on the 2015-16 budget for the city.

The staff is proposing to maintain the tax rate at $2.0466 per $1,000 of property value to provide city services, cover capital expenses and debt.

That meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.

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