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Fall City Council Update

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

Friends & Supporters,

In the past three months and change since my last update, quite a bit has transpired. The highlights are set forth below:

Florida Legislature Voids Marco’s Vacation Rental Ordinance

Council adopted a modified version of the referendum passed in August of 2022 at it’s meeting on December 5, 2022. Thereafter, on June 28, 2023, Governor DeSantis signed SB 250 into law. Specifically, Section 14.1 of SB 250 states that a municipality located partially or entirely within 100 miles of where either Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole made landfall (this includes Marco Island) shall not ... adopt more restrictive or burdensome amendments to its Comprehensive Plan or land development regulations.”  Any such more burdensome amendments may not be made until October 1, 2024. Further, the legislation applies retroactively and voids any more burdensome amendments to the Comprehensive Plan or land development regulations made since September 28, 2022. According to our City Attorney and Mr. Robert Pritt, who was chosen by Council to give a second opinion on issues pertaining to litigation against the City concerning the vacation rental ordinance, SB 250 applies directly to our ordinance and renders it null and void. Thus, the State legislation repeals the City’s vacation rental ordinance and renders it a nullity, as if it had never been approved by the voters or enacted by Council.  This is disappointing to many or our citizens and represents yet another encroachment on home rule by the State. If elected to serve in the State House of Representatives, I will urge my colleagues to respect home rule for counties and municipalities and limit legislation which preempts or voids local laws.  

Council Approves Millage Rollback Rate for 7th Straight Year!

Property values have soared on Marco Island and across Florida and much of the country over the past several years.  Most governmental taxing entities both locally and nationwide have allowed this increase in property values to drive huge increases in tax revenues based on those increasing property values.  That is not what Marco Island has done. Rather than bloating our City government, we have kept it on a diet, reducing tax rates repeatedly. This year, Council approved by a 6-1 vote a millage (property tax) rate reduction of 12.5%, from a rate of 1.4837 per $1000 in assessed valuation down to 1.3137. Overall, rates have been reduced by about 28% since I joined Council in 2020, and by nearly 36% since Council began rollback rate reductions in 2017. The savings for a home valued at $1m over that time period is over $3000. More importantly, we have forced ourselves to prioritize government spending on Marco. There are always an endless number of projects and initiatives that seem worthy, but we can’t do them all, nor should we try. I am proud that we have one of the few municipalities statewide or in the entire country which has held tax bills flat for homeowners and business owners in our community, while governments all around us have bloated their budgets at taxpayer expense. Marco Island taxpayers enjoy one of the lowest millage rates in the State, and our City has an outstanding credit rating enjoyed by a very small number of governmental entities Statewide. This is how fiscal conservatism works in practice, and I am proud of my colleagues for endorsing this small government philosophy and making it work for our City.  

Recognition of Police Department and Collier County Sheriff’s Office for Outstanding Professionalism

On June 19, the MIPD responded to 87 N. Collier Blvd. on a report that a 49 year old man was in possession of a handgun and was threatening harm to himself.  Prior to police arrival the subject made threats to others residing at that location.  The threatened parties were able to exit the residence unharmed.  The suspect refused to cooperate with police and locked himself in the residence, threatening to shoot himself.  At this point our Fire Deparment closed Collier Blvd in the vicinity and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team arrived at the scene. Chief Frazzano took command of the scene and was eventually able to establish contact with the subject through FaceBook. Chief Frazzano, using negotiation skills she had learned during her time training with the FBI, established a rapport with the subject and after several hours, convinced him to surrender—he exited the residence without incident and was transported to the Naples Jail Center, where he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. At the August 7 meeting, Council recognized the professionalism of the three Departments involved. Sheriff Rambosk was there representing his Department, and numerous officers and firefighters along with Chiefs Frazzano and Byrne were on hand to be recognized as well. We are extremely well served by our Public Safety professionals at the City and County level, and this was a great occasion to let them know how much we appreciate their dedication and professionalism.   

A Mayor for Marco?

At our Council meeting on September 18, Councilor Brechnitz proposed an ordinance to be submitted for voter approval next year to provide for the direct election of a mayor for our City. Erik pointed out that our City is one of the few in the State without a mayor. He also argued, and I agree, that not having a mayor disadvantages our city to some degree in various forums where top city officials gather and our City is not represented by a mayor. He also argued that it was important for the mayor to be elected by the people. My colleagues expressed concerns about the candidate pool for Council being diluted if separate elections are held for mayor and City Council. Ultimately, that concern carried the day, and Councilor Brechnitz’s proposal failed 5-2 (I voted in favor).  At our most recent meeting Vice Chair Grifoni surfaced a modified proposal for establishing a mayor for our City.  Instead of having a mayor directly elected, the roles of Chair and Vice Chair in the Charter would be replaced by Mayor and Vice Mayor, respectively, with the only other change being that the term for mayor and vice mayor would be two years, rather than the current one year term for Chair and Vice Chair. The mayor would have no additional responsibilities, only a different title. The term limits in place would remain for anyone elected mayor or vice mayor by the Council. The two term maximum for Council service would include all time served either as a rank and file member of Council or as mayor or Vice Mayor. Additionally, Vice Chair Grifoni proposed that Council member pay be adjusted to account for inflation since 1998, when the Charter set salaries for members at $6000 per annum and $9000 for the Chair. The proposed pay under his proposal would raise to $11,500 for Councilors and $17,200 for the Chair. These new salaries, if approved by the voters, would not apply to the current terms of any sitting Councilor, but would only apply to Councilors elected to new terms.  Vice Chair Grifoni will bring his proposal to the Council soon, with the hope that it could be considered by Council and, as appropriate, voted on by voters in March next year at the same time as the Presidential preference primary; doing so will enable the vote to occur without incurring additional costs for the election.  

Snook Reopens!  

Marco landmark Snook Inn has reopened, serving customers for the first time in over a year following Hurricane Ian, on October 2. Congrats to Luigi Carvelli and his family and outstanding team for bringing this great business back to life. The rebuilt restaurant is more beautiful than ever.  That’s it for now.  I will continue to keep you posted on developments on my campaign. Enjoy the Fall and a return to cooler weather.  

All the Best,


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