Marco Council one step closer to adding capital spending safeguards

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Jared Grifoni

The Marco Island City Council is one step closer to enacting an ordinance designed to promote fiscal conservancy and add safeguards against “hasty” or “factional” spending.

City Council has approved the first reading of an ordinance that would require a supermajority for capital expenditures greater than 10 percent of the average of the past four years of general fund revenue.

Based on general fund revenues from recent years, it would impact capital expenditures between $1.8 and $2 million.

More:Marco Council to explore ordinance adding requirement for major capital projects

The capital spending ordinance was proposed by Councilor Jared Grifoni, who noted how Islanders voted in favor of Amendment 5, which put requirements in both state legislative chambers that a two-thirds majority was needed to impose new taxes or increase existing fees.

By adding a supermajority requirement for these types of expenditures, it would mean that council would need five votes to see them through. Language in the ordinance also calls for a super majority vote if a future council wished to repeal it.

The ordinance, which has been discussed a few times since Grifoni first proposed it in a white paper, saw the Council split on whether to move forward.

Voicing support for the ordinance, Councilor Larry Honig said it would not prevent the city council from taking any action.

“I think this ordinance sends exactly the right message to the community about how this council will manage the fisc,” Honig said.

Other councilors, however, grew concerned about its intentions.

In reviewing the voting history on capital expenditures, Councilor Charlette Roman said that the City Council has had a supermajority on major items, which shows that it was dedicated itself to fiscal responsibility.

Roman called the ordinance “more government and just unnecessary.”

Councilor Howard Reed said by imposing the need for a supermajority, it would put fiscal control in the hands of the minority.

“It says any three councilors can block an expenditure desired by, voted on by the majority of City Council,” Reed said.

After Reed mentioned the city’s inquiry to the property across the street, which developers had tried to put an assisted living facility on, Grifoni called Reed’s comments out of order for assuming the motives behind the ordinance were nefarious.

Grifoni, in fact, had requested the spending ordinance be added to the future agenda Nov. 13 and submitted his white paper on Nov. 21, months before the assisted living facility proposal came before the City Council.

The swing vote ahead of the second reading before City Council appears to be Chairperson Erik Brechnitz, who warned that he needed more information if he was going to the support the information.