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Summer 2017 Update
   
    Time does fly! It’s been almost eight months since you elected me to serve as your City Councilor.  I have enjoyed hearing from you about what’s on your mind and learning your ideas on how we can make our island an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. By far the best part of this job continues to be helping the citizens of Marco Island. That wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated city staff and the citizen advisory committee volunteers who partner in this effort. Thank you for your continued confidence and support!

    The professional search for our new city manager has progressed smoothly and is in the final stretch. The next step will be in-person interviews of the finalists in late July. This hiring process, agreed to unanimously by council, is another small step towards demonstrating to the community that we can work together towards achieving effective government for Marco Islanders.  However, there are still many improvements to be made. In the future, council will need to concentrate on its policy roles while the new city manager builds and trains his staff into an operational team that effectively supports the council’s decision-making. It will take time and effort by everyone, including our new city manager, to assure that each and every Islander is treated equally and fairly.  I am confident that we want, can and will do this. 

    In the meantime, city staff members have the opportunity to make their voices heard by participating in the Staff Organizational Climate Survey, offered to both current city staff and to those who have left within the past two years. In many cases, staff members have years of experience in local government – experience that needs to be tapped to improve the city. They deal daily with members of the community and will be able to identify challenges and opportunities for the new city manager. Another purpose of the survey is to gain insight into the extremely high personnel turnover rates of the past several years.  Staff stability and historical knowledge are both critical to the city government’s ability to serve the community in the future.

    The overall health of our natural environment, especially our waterways, is paramount to our continued economic vitality as a community. Fishing is a big draw to our area and is an enjoyable sport for many Marco Islanders. We must protect the quality of our waterways to ensure abundant marine life for our children and grandchildren. The Waterways Advisory Committee, with its new missions of stormwater management and water quality, is doing very important work and making sound progress.

    The committee succeeded in drafting a stormwater ordinance, required under our new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, which addresses stormwater collection and runoff into our canals. The ordinance is now making its way through staff to council. If you were on the island this month during the 16 inches of rain over two days, you saw our stormwater systems in action with varying degrees of success. 
    Other important initiatives that the Waterways Advisory Committee is exploring to protect our waterways are:
  • instituting an Adopt-a-Canal Program,
  • increasing frequency and locations of water quality testing, and
  • conducting public educational outreach programs for our residents on keeping our waterways healthy.
    The new Ad Hoc Parking Solutions Committee hit the ground running! The members are reviewing island-wide parking issues in order to meet council’s timeline to present a comprehensive parking plan at the November 6, 2017 council meeting. They have divided the island into zones and are working on recommendations by zone to both remedy deficiencies and plan for future capacity in each area. The committee’s hard work is already paying off. Several no-cost and low-cost solutions have already been discussed, along with best practices from other communities. There may be some recommendations that we can implement right away. This plan will cover the next three to five years and be presented as a multi-phased approach to facilitate budgeting for some of the improvements.

    While, as you might know, I certainly supported preparing and completing the Advanced Life Support and Transport License application, there seems to be a misunderstanding on why I’m hesitant to immediately submit that application. Here’s why: INSUFFICIENT INFORMATIONMy duty as your elected representative demands that I vote with full knowledge of all pertinent facts and consequences of that vote.  So far, those basic conditions haven’t been met to my satisfaction. Here are a few questions that I feel should receive hard, substantive and public considerations, not merely emotional ones:
  • If Marco were to submit its application and is granted that license, exactly what obligations and responsibilities are immediately incurred?
  • Like our Police Department, if Marco operated its own emergency service, that cost will be in addition to what Marco pays to Collier County for its emergency services. What might be that projected grand total expense for Marco Island?
  • Marco currently enjoys the notable County emergency service response time of 8 minutes or less 93% of the time. What exactly is the current problem we’re trying to resolve, if any?
  • If Marco operated its own emergency service, what would be the improvement goal over our current service?
  • The probable advantages of a proprietary Marco Island Advanced Life Support and Transport service have, of course, been emphasized by supporters. What, with equal clarity, are all the probable disadvantages?
    There are more questions, of course, but I think you can understand that, although I certainly support the notion of a Marco Island Emergency Service, I insist on being fully informed of the pros and cons of the issue. I’m afraid my nature rejects the “Pitchforks and Torches” approach to a question. Marco Island has “been there and done that” in the past…but, if I can help it, not on my watch!

    On a different note, I’m delighted to report that Collier County has accepted responsibility for the Goodland Road.  Marco Islanders and our Goodland friends are both beneficiaries of this long-awaited action.

    The council began the budget process for FY 2018 by holding three evening budget workshops with staff. This approach gave us the opportunity to dig into the numbers and to get a better understanding of the projects being requested.  Currently, Marco Island allocates approximately 56% of the general fund budget to Public Safety (the fire and police departments). In upcoming meetings, we will be categorizing the “must do” and “need to do” items into a prioritized list and setting a millage rate. It’s essential that we find a way to address some of our long overdue Public Works projects that impact our quality of life, such as repairing our failing roadways.

    Stay tuned for Florida City Government Week, October 23 – 29. Marco Island will be participating in this event that is sponsored by the Florida League of Cities. Look for opportunities to participate with and learn more about your city.
Wishing you an Independence Day filled with pride in our
great country and the love of family and friends!
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