MAY 2021 NEWSLETTER
Posted by Greg Folley 5sc on May 10, 2021
FROM THE DESK OF VICE CHAIR GREG FOLLEY
Friends & Supporters, Here’s your May update on the progress of your Marco Island City Council.
Marco Island in Strong Financial Shape On April 19th, the Council reviewed the 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The summary indicated the City is in a strong financial position overall. However, we’re not without financial concerns. Fire and police pension liabilities exceed $44 million, nearly twice the annual operating budget of the City. Furthermore, contributions to those funds are far larger than City contributions for all other city employees and expected to increase. That being said, I'm confident in our ability to find effective solutions to both honor our obligations and successfully manage these costs.
Veterans Community Park Approved The Council approved the site plan and 90% Construction Cost Estimate for the Veterans Community Park project at our April 19 meeting. This included slight modifications approved on May 3. The City has heard from hundreds of residents over the 20 years since the City purchased the Glonn Property. The current plan is impressive. The park will be a beautiful landmark and the site of family and community activities for decades to come. It reflects a major investment in our community, with a price tag of about $10.7 million. Cost estimates for the project have increased over the past several months due to a nationwide spike in material and building costs. However, the approved number reflects those increases. The Council approved the updated project numbers by a vote of 6-1 at its meeting on May 3. This is after receiving extensive public input and recommendations from the Parks and Recreation Committee.
Fire Station 50 Reconstruction Approved The Council reviewed and approved the much needed rebuild of the dilapidated Fire Station 50 at our meeting on April 19. We voted unanimously to approve the 90% Construction Cost Estimate submitted by the contractor, Manhattan Construction Company. The $12.5 million approved for this rebuild also reflects the spike in building costs impacting the structures at Veterans Park, but those costs are only likely to increase in the foreseeable future.
Special Note Spending nearly $23 million in taxpayer funds represents a huge investment in the future of our Island. It’s enough to give anyone reason to be sure the investment is justified. In my business career, I was involved in numerous capital projects where investment ran into the billions. At times, due to annual budgetary concerns, needed projects were stopped and started again. The result was a delay in improved service to customers and a huge increase in overall costs due to delays. Some are now calling for delays to study these projects once again. I do not believe further delays will change the direction significantly, given the huge amount of community input already received on both of them. However, I am convinced further delays will drive already high costs much higher. I therefore voted to approve each project.
Comprehensive Plan Workshop Council held its second Comprehensive Plan Workshop on April 29. This workshop was much more effective than the prior workshop on March 31, as we had the benefit of all the comments and detailed review completed by the Planning Board. The result was a much more productive session. The vast majority of Planning Board recommendations were adopted and discussions were more directed and efficient. We are close to completing this work after extensive collaboration with the community. We are somewhat late but on track to complete a Plan that reflects the views of the Council and the majority of our citizens.
Meeting with Senator Passidomo Senator Kathleen Passidomo met with the Council via Zoom at our May 3 meeting. This followed the completion of the 2021 legislative session in Tallahassee, just a few days earlier. She highlighted many of the key accomplishments from the session. This included legislation to reign in Big Tech, legislation prohibiting biological males from competing in women’s sports, protection for businesses from Covid related lawsuits, a ban on Covid vaccine passports, and election reform measures assuring the integrity of our voting processes. The State also passed its budget, which included full funding for the San Marco Tide Leveling/Canal Flushing project. This project, subject to the Governor’s approval, will enable us to connect canals on both sides of San Marco Road with underground pipes that have the potential to significantly improve the water quality in our canals. We also discussed home rule legislation, expressing our concern that legislation aimed at other jurisdictions often has the effect of handcuffing our city. Due to our concerns and those expressed by many other cities, legislation to further restrict local regulation of short-term rentals did not pass. We agreed to continue our discussions in the future.
Noise Ordinance Improvements Chief Frazzano presented an overview of the Noise Ordinance and related complaints since it was updated last October. Overall, noise complaints have risen 60 percent in the last six months, verified complaints increased 44 percent, and repeat addresses increased 56 percent. These numbers were in line with expectations and indicate the community understands the new law and is taking steps to see it enforced. The Chief commented that calls between 8 and 10 pm saw the greatest increase, and suggested that enforcement of the “plainly audible” provision might be delayed until 9 or 10 pm. This would prevent such a high number of complaints due to kids playing in pools or casual conversations. The City Manager was asked to come back with any suggested “tweaks” to the ordinance in future meetings. Any changes will be fully discussed with opportunity for community input.
Fireworks for the Fourth! The Council unanimously agreed to reinstate fireworks for this year to enable a much needed celebration of our country after a Covid related cancellation of festivities last year. In addition to the City’s contribution of $65,000, numerous businesses and individuals have indicated a plan to contribute to the funding of this year’s event. MICA has also announced that Resident’s Beach will be open for the celebration, which is very good news. MICA’s unwillingness to open the Beach effectively prevented the event last year, so everything is now falling into place for a spectacular Independence Day. Hooray! 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