AUGUST 2021 NEWSLETTER
Posted by Greg Folley 5sc on August 23, 2021
FROM THE DESK OF VICE CHAIR GREG FOLLEY Friends & Supporters,
The Council held its only meeting of this month on August 16th. Several items were on the agenda. This included an update from the Beautification Committee, approval of a bond to fund Veterans’ Community Park and Fire Station 50, ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement with Marco Police, discussion regarding changes to the Noise Ordinance, and the City Manager’s performance evaluation.
Beautification Committee Update Ms. Shelli Connelly, Chair of the Beautification Advisory Committee, provided an update for the Council and offered suggestions to improve the appearance of our city. Most notably, she summarized the excellent work the Committee had done with Marco in Bloom, Arbor Day, Marco Nature Night, the new utility artwork wraps, and the Beach Access Beautification project. Ms. Connelly also shared their research into revitalizing the Christmas light displays across the island. The Council requested a few more recommendations, specific cost information, and to follow up at a future meeting.
Construction Financing Approved Finance Director Gil Polanco explained how he proposed to finance the construction of Veterans’ Community Park and Fire Station 50. The vehicle is a public improvement revenue bond which will likely carry an interest rate of only 2.5%. This rate is offered due to the extremely strong financial position which our city enjoys. Very few municipalities anywhere could command such a low interest rate for such a bond. It’s a testament to the sound financial position in which the city finds itself that we’re able to finance construction so inexpensively. The Council unanimously approved this methodology for financing construction on both projects.
Noise Ordinance Update The Council also considered changes to the Noise Ordinance based on recommendations from Chief Frazzano. These changes were limited in scope and loosened existing requirements mildly to enable more effective and consistent enforcement. However, there was a great deal of impassioned input from citizens who wanted no easing of the existing requirements. A broader discussion of the regulation of short term rentals ensued. Councilor Babrowski ultimately moved to defer further action on the Noise Ordinance. She asked city staff to come back to the Council with recommendations for possible registration requirements that might be imposed for short term rentals consistent with state law and other ways to address community concerns about disturbances from short term renters. Her motion was unanimously approved.
Police Agreement Approved The Council also unanimously approved its most recent collective bargaining agreement between the City and the Police Officers Union. This agreement addressed two significant issues. First, wages were increased significantly to bring them in line with wages in surrounding communities. This is important because the City had been losing officers after only short periods of service, along with their investment in training, to other departments who paid better. With these changes to wages, we believe this problem will be effectively addressed. Second, major pension changes were enacted to bring our plan from benefit levels which are far above market to much more competitive and appropriate conditions. These conditions remain highly competitive and above benefits available in the private sector and in most other Police Departments. The result in both cases is that the changes were market based and serve the City and our police officers well.
City Manager’s Annual Evaluation The Council completed its annual evaluation of the City Manager's performance. The consensus was very strong that City Manager McNees had an excellent year and brought stability and effectiveness to a critical role that in the past had not been handled well by several of his immediate predecessors. The Council unanimously agreed to provide the Manager with an appropriate pay increase in the form of a housing stipend and congratulated him on an outstanding job for the past year.
Veterans' Park Groundbreaking Finally, I was privileged to join my Council colleagues, County Commissioner LoCastro and several other representatives in turning the shovel to officially break ground on the Veterans’ Community Park Project. Thank you to the MIPD Honor Guard, American Legion Post 404, our distinguished Veterans, and all those who participated in shutting down Veterans' Memorial Fountain and retiring our flags. It was truly an exciting day for our community and we look forward to construction beginning this upcoming year. I believe I speak for everyone in saying, I can’t wait to see the result when our fully renovated park reopens. Please like and follow my Facebook page for the latest updates. Take care and God bless! Sincerely, Greg S. Folley 940 Cape Marco Dr, Unit 2006 Marco Island, FL 34145