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Posted by Greg Folley 5sc on June 28, 2021

FROM THE DESK OF VICE CHAIR GREG FOLLEY Friends & Supporters, It’s officially Summer on sunny Marco Island! The summary below covers Marco Island City Council meetings from May 24 through June 21.

Spring Wrap Up The Council unanimously approved several items at its May 24 meeting. This included declaring four surplus pieces of vacant property, a letter to Congressman Byron Donalds, a plan for improvements to city governmental facilities, and city funds for the Fourth of July fireworks. After a presentation by representatives of the Marco Patriots, the Council also voted 7-0 to install handicap accessible beach mats. Of special note, a proclamation declaring the week of May 22-28 National Safe Boating Week on Marco Island was given by Chairman Grifoni.

New Employee & Citizen Surveys At our June 7 meeting, the Council considered and approved a comprehensive all employee survey. In my experience, as Chief HR Officer for a Fortune 100 Company, this survey has tremendous potential. It can ensure employment and leadership practices are fostering a positive culture, drive improvements in employee engagement, and ultimately provide better results for our citizens. We considered several vendors and selected a highly experienced and competent vendor to move forward with this effort. At the same time we also discussed proceeding with our first ever citizen survey to assess our residents’ perspective on the services the city provides. The Council agreed that such a survey should happen and staff was directed to move forward with regard to the nature of the survey and which vendors should be considered for the project. City staff will report back to the Council on our citizen survey in the near future.

City Manager Residency Requirement There was also discussion regarding the residency requirement for our City Manager. Specifically, that the City Manager must live on Marco Island and whether that requirement should be waived. This is in light of the rising price of homes on the Island and the very real challenges the City Manager has faced in purchasing a permanent home here. The consensus of The Council was that the residency requirement should not be waived, but that we should assess how other cities facing similar issues have dealt with them. This topic was further addressed by the Chairman at our June 21 meeting, with additional discussion focusing on a possible housing allowance for the City Manager. The issue has not yet been resolved and will be addressed further in the future.

Capital Budget Workshop On the afternoon of June 21, the Council met for a special Capital Budget Workshop. Many existing and additional capital spending projects were identified. While no firm decisions on capital spending were taken, the Council was firm in its view that the millage rollback rate would remain in place and that taxes would not be increased to pay for any additional projects. The final Capital Budget will be approved this Fall. Another issue on the Capital Budget agenda was sidewalk maintenance. Consideration was given by the Council on whether the City ought to take over maintenance of sidewalks after installation by the homeowner of the adjacent property and assurance that those sidewalks meet city requirements. There was considerable debate about the desirability of the City taking over such maintenance, but full agreement that there was no money available in the Capital Budget this year to take on this additional responsibility.

Final Project Budgets At our regular meeting on the evening of June 21, we considered and approved a final budget for both Fire Station 51 and for Veteran’s Community Park. Both projects have been thoroughly vetted by the Council and staff for years, and the project has recently spiked due to the dramatic increase in material costs our nation has recently experienced. Nevertheless, the Council unanimously approved each project and they are moving forward. I am excited about both of these projects and we are committed to managing the costs to the approved amounts.

Short Term Rentals Finally, during Council discussions, Councilor Babrowski suggested we revisit our previous discussion about seeking an independent opinion on the legality of regulating short term rentals. Considerable debate ensued about the need to do this to dispel assertions that the Council is not listening to the concerns of its citizens. No resolution was reached, but it’s clear that this issue is not resolved. One point that did come through, is that citizens who are not happy with the City Attorney’s opinion are free to challenge it in court. In addition, they are free to sue owners of homes which are creating a nuisance to the enjoyment of their property under the restrictive covenants in the deeds of all homeowners on the island. Perhaps citizens who are most concerned might actively consider these alternatives, as the City Attorney himself suggested. I guarantee there will be more discussion on this issue.

Independence Day July 4th fireworks will launch off the coast between Tigertail Beach and South Beach at 9pm. Thank you to our local donors including the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa, and Marco Island Civic Association. There will also be a County Wide Beach Cleanup on July 5th at 8am. Pitch in at South Marco, Tigertail, or Residents’ Beach to help keep our island beautiful. Have a safe and blessed holiday weekend. Please like and follow my Facebook page for the latest updates. Happy Fourth of July! God bless America! Sincerely, Greg S. Folley 940 Cape Marco Dr, Unit 2006 Marco Island, FL 34145 A Special Note The City of Marco Island sends heartfelt sympathies to the families, residents, and neighbors impacted by the tragic collapse of the Champlain Tower Condominium in Surfside, Florida on June 24th. Our prayers are also with the first responders, law enforcement, fire departments, volunteers and all those serving in the relief and recovery efforts. Rest assured, your local government is proactive in preventing this type of tragedy and keeping our residents and visitors safe.

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