Tuesday, December 7, 2021

COUNCIL MOVES FORWARD DURING DUAL SESSIONS


Photos by Stef Stefanides | Safe Boating Week Proclamation May 17-22


 

On May 17, the Marco Island City Council held what is known as a “Double Header” in baseball when they first convened at 1:00 PM for a discussion on how to proceed regarding the 2021-2022 public hearings on developing their budget for the next fiscal year.  

That meeting was a relatively short one and no specifics regarding spending were held, but rather, the sourcing of income and past spending allocations were first held. However, that was not before Councilor Erik Brechnitz advised staff and fellow council members that he envisioned a relatively robust discussion regarding capital spending during negotiations which will conclude later in September to set the final numbers for the next year.

Council reconvened at 5:30 pm for their second May meeting. Council dealt with a number of relatively routine matters during that session, the first of which was a Proclamation designating the week of May 17 to May 22 as National Safe Boating Week. They presented the Proclamation to the Marco Island Chapter of America’s Boating Club (local chapter of the United States Power Squadron) which consists of 149 active members who had a relatively large gathering in attendance with their Commander, Wanda Burson.

Mick Moriarty gives an impassioned plea to have Council endorse the beach mat project, as supporters Bob Roth and Erin Mia Milchman look on.

They would go on to authorize the City Manager to declare four parcels of land presently owned by the city and formerly utilized by the Utility Department as surplus and advertise those properties for sale. If sold, those revenues would revert to the Utilities Department and be placed in their reserves for future capital costs.

The issue of vacation rentals once again came before council when the Assistant to the Manager, Casey Lucius, came forward to update council on the situation. She reported that a total of 2931 presently are registered with the State of Florida, thus paying the Short-Term Tourist Development Tax to the state as well as 6% state sales tax and any applicable discretionary sales surtax to their county. That number could be higher, but only represents those legally registered. Of those numbers, 36% are condominiums.

When asked as to whether a request should be made to the State’s Attorney General regarding the status of the city’s position regarding legislation pre-empting local rule of controls for rentals within the community, City Attorney Alan Gabriel walked a fine line. Councilor Folley also warned against costs that might be incurred.

Councilor Rola questioned why we wouldn’t want to acquire our own attorney to bring the matter forth. Council Chair Grifoni cautioned against what he referred to as “lawyer shopping.” Councilor Claire Babrowski challenged the city attorney’s stance that if we hadn’t enforced the rule, we may have forfeited that option, to which she simply stated, “It’s ridiculous that because we haven’t enforced it, we can’t now.”

Both Councilors Irwin and Blonna sided with those seeking redress from the issues that have escalated regarding short-term rentals. Christine Dowdall, who serves as the President of Citizens for a Better Marco, framed the problem as “Companies with global reach and deep pockets are dictating our quality of life here.”

Council closed on a bright note as they heard from the group that has been working with Collier County to have “beach mats” installed at Marco Island’s South Beach Access Point. The mats would allow those with physical challenges, wheelchairs, and strollers to have ease of access to the beach. The group has been working with county staff and District 1 Commissioner Rick LoCastro to view various products and installation considerations. One of the group, Mick Moriarty, reported that the county was fully in favor of the project and would be funding and maintaining the installation. Council sent a communication to the county supporting the efforts.

 


 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *