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Marco Island to hire fleet manager as departments request new vehicles for FY 2021

Chairman Erik Brechnitz speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on June 1, 2020.

Marco Island will soon hire a full-time emergency manager to, among other things, oversee the maintenance, repair and replacement of approximately 150 city vehicles, City Manager Mike McNees said during a capital budget workshop June 8.

Chris Byrne, the city's emergency management and coordinator, is responsible for some fleet management but his contract is set to expire, according to McNees.

"He is eligible to apply," McNees wrote in an email June 17. "I can't say whether he will or not."

The position was approved in last year's operating budget, according to McNees.

McNees made the announcement after Chairman Erik Brechnitz said he is not convinced the emergency department needs a new vehicle for the fleet and emergency manager.

The Ford F-150 XL pickup, which is estimated to cost close to $36,000, would be  used for rapid post-storm assessment and damage inspections and to respond to emergencies in support of the police and fire-rescue departments, according to city documents.

The vehicle would also be used for project management, facility and fleet inspections, facility repairs, and site inspection of city capital construction projects.

"The notion that there isn't a vehicle available for emergency management when they need it [...]," Brechnitz said. "I go to our parking lot and I see tons of vehicles out there parked every time I'm here."

Brechnitz said the city can't continue to buy vehicles that are not used every day. "It's a waste of money," he said.

McNees said the city needs to get a better handle on its fleet operation and suggested Brechnitz cut the vehicle from the budget until staff guarantees the new vehicle is needed.

Brechnitz said he thought that should have been done before it was brought to City Council.

"If you are sure this is critical to the mission, and there is not another piece of equipment available to do it...," he said. "I mean, you are running the city, not me."

"When I get that position hired, one of the first tasks of the new fleet manager will be to squeeze a vehicle for themselves out of the fleet, and if it can't absolutely be done I'll be back," McNees said.

Brechnitz said he likes McNees' idea. "If that's what is going to be done I'd be happy to approve it," he said.

The city has more than 200 employees, according to McNees, but many of the city vehicles are used for specific purposes like police and fire-rescue.

The fire-rescue department also requested a $45,000 pickup truck for the daily operations of the training officer, to respond to emergencies and to transport the safety officer during storms and other major events, according to city documents.

Fire-Rescue Chief Michael D. Murphy said it will replace a 10-year-old model that has 120,000 miles.

The police department's initiatives include purchasing an unmarked, atypical traffic unit  and auxiliary equipment for $65,000, according to Chief Tracy L. Frazzano. "We don't want a vehicle that looks like a typical police car," she said.

Frazzano said this type of vehicle would help monitor traffic in light of recent fatalities. 

On Jan. 2, a 63-year-old man died after his scooter crashed with a vehicle at the intersection of East Elkcam Circle and Collier Boulevard.

On Feb. 5, an off-duty Marco Island police officer died following a traffic crash at the intersection of San Marco Road and Heathwood Drive.

On Feb. 25, two people were taken to the hospital after a car overturned at North Collier Boulevard by Yellow Street. The passenger died in the hospital.

Frazzano said COVID-19 may have stopped the streak of traffic fatalities by keeping people at home or off the island. She said that on average the city experiences two traffic fatalities per year.

As part of its routine expenses budgeted in the capital improvement plan, the police department expects to purchase three vehicles to replace older models, according to city documents.

The department has 32 vehicles, according to Frazzano.

Contact Omar at omar.rodriguezortiz@naplesnews.com, and follow him on Twitter  as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.