Monday, November 29, 2021

Letter to the Editor: Marco City Council election – Vote carefully, vote wisely, make sure you vote!



There are 4 seats available for City Council in this year’s November election; there are 3 incumbents (Councilors Honecker, Petricca, and Honig) and 5 who have never served (Jarred Grifoni, Fred Kramer, Howard Reed, Charlette Roman, and Dr. Jerry Swiacki). I chose, for a number of reasons, not to run again, however I thank the people of Marco for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to serve.

Having been on Marco for more than 20 years, this year’s Council election, to me, is unique. First of all, unlike years past, we don’t have condos vs single-family home issues. Secondly, although I’m biased, I just don’t believe there is anything about the current Council and what we’ve done to cause anger against the incumbents.

Consider what this Council has accomplished:

Hiring one of the best City Managers in all of Florida in Roger Hernstadt. While some might consider Roger sometimes ‘heavy-handed’, understand his role and Council’s Role: Roger is Chief Executive of an almost $100,000,000 million enterprise and runs day-to-day operations, Council makes policy decisions and sets budgetary limits, we are barred from dictating to City Staff.

Thanks to Roger we have adopted a ‘bucket plan’ that has reduced City debt, provided for the first time a long-term budget, and created significant reserves (witness that the new Mackle Center is being paid for in cash).

Roger, with our support, introduced the idea of hiring a Lobbyist who has brought more than $2,000,000 in State monies we otherwise would have never seen.

With the cooperation from both our Police and Fire unions we are positioned so that at end end of the upcoming Fiscal Year the City’s ‘underfunded pension liabilities’, despite a change in Federal accounting practices that nearly tripled them, will be zero! To put a perspective on this, our ‘sister city’, Naples, has an un-funded liability exceeding $40,000,000!

We are in the process of engineering plans for the necessary renovations to our main fire station on the City Hall campus and are considering as an option for the old station on West Elkam to sell the existing one and build a new one on City owned land next to the Sheriff’s substation on Barfield. This project was designated as a top-priority in the $250,000 State Grant we received for this project.

For those who think Council only raises fees to increase spending not only has our millage rate for property taxes remained stable, but for the new Fiscal Year starting October 1, despite an almost 10% in Island-wide appraised values, budgets have been reduced by 2% and the millage rate reduced by $0.08 per $1,000 of assessed value! In the August TRIM notices (tentative tax statement) many homesteaded property owners discovered a tentative decease in tax.

We authorized Consultants for both a COPCN in order to be able to provide better EMS service for the more than 4,000 medical calls we have each year, as well as a review of our Land Development Codes. Although our hiring a Magistrate has helped Code enforcement significantly, we still have too many poorly written and/or inconsistently enforced Ordinances and Codes. These issues are being addressed.

I find it ironic that some of the candidates are making part of their platform that they are going to “unify” Council and our community. I’m not sure what this means, especially for the incumbent who continues to emphasize this theme (and is typically on the losing end of 5-2 votes that helped to accomplish all of these positives) since I find it hard to want to change the direction we’ve been going in.

There are some things we didn’t accomplish that I regret: we failed to pass a much-needed Rental Ordinance and I sincerely hope the next Council can do a better job at protecting our residents from nuisance renters. We did not solve our water and wastewater rate inequities; this is another issue that begs resolution.

As you start receiving your mail-in ballots, go to early voting, or vote on Election Day I hope you’ll choose wisely and ignore the rhetoric some of the candidates are promoting.  YOUR City Council has done a fine job representing YOUR community, without, as some allege and the record clearly shows, “giving in to special interests”.

Thank you to all for the opportunity to have represented Marco Island.



Larry Sacher
Marco City Council


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