Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Marco City Council Gives Initial Approval to Budget

Councilman Honig discusses the rise in 39 new personnel positions over the last 8 years.

The Marco Island City Council dealt with a number of issues on Wednesday, September 9, in the first meeting of two which are required to approve the proposed budget for fiscal 2020-2021. The final process will set the city’s tax rate (millage rate) for the next year.

Property owners should have received a notice in August from the Collier County Tax Collector detailing the proposed Millage Rates from each of those taxing authorities within the county. Marco Island is only one of those entities which make up your total tax liability. The other five include the Collier County portion of your taxes, the taxes which go to the State of Florida for School Taxes, the portion which goes to Collier County for your local school tax liability, the South Florida Water Management District and the Collier Mosquito Control District.

The final vote on the Marco Island Municipal Tax Levy will be held on September 21st. The council is proposing to spend $19,225,903 within its operating budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. That spending is based upon a total assessed valuation of the property on the island valued at $11,213,580,784 and will result in a municipal Tax Rate of $1.7610/ per thousand of valuation.

A $600,000 home on Marco Island would therefore be paying $1,056 for the City of Marco Island municipal services—before deductions for Save our Homes, Homestead Exemption, Veterans exemption, etc. That includes the costs for Marco Island Fire/Rescue services, the services from Marco Island Police, Code Enforcement, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Growth Management, Building Services, Executive Services—Human Resources, City Council, City Attorney, City Manager, Emergency Management, IT services and finance.

The valuation of Marco properties increased over $514,359,400 from its 2019 value, which was set at $10,799,221,384 when the Collier County Tax Assessor released his figures in August of 2019. That includes new construction and added valuation of both commercial and residential properties on the island.

Some councilors such as Chairman Erik Brechnitz were cautious in their comments as they reflected on the impact of possible reductions in anticipated sales tax revenues due to the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which has had an impact on tourism over the last six months. “We have to be very diligent in tracking those numbers,” said Brechnitz when he referred to the special 1% add-on to the local sales tax revenues, which accounts for dollars being used for capital projects outside those ad-valorem tax revenues.

Councilman Honig also pointed out the rise in employees since his election, commenting, “We have added a total of 39 employees since I arrived on council 8 years ago, 29 of them since the election of 2016 and a 17 since the Chairman’s election just 2 years ago.”

It was newly elected Councilman Gregory Folley during recent budget deliberations who cautioned fellow councilors that expansion of spending, due to increases in revenues, may have to be looked at more closely. “We do need to take a closer look at spending moving forward,” said Folley during one of those budget sessions.

This would be the first year in many that there hasn’t been “bonded voter debt.” Those items show on the tax bill as a separate line-item. The debt for the bonds which paid for the acquisition of the property now known as Veterans Community Park is an example of that which was approved by a voter referendum, and this year have been retired.

The debt to fund the Marco Police Building has also been retired. Those costs were absorbed by utilizing the income from sales-tax revenues and that debt has also been satisfied. 

How a new council will deal with funding for two major projects such as Veterans Community Park and the new Central Fire Station/EOC will be an interesting dynamic. In addition to those two major capital projects, questions regarding potentially expensive stormwater remediation projects may have a major impact on future spending plans for the island when those studies are completed and made public.

Contract for Construction Management at Risk Is Approved

In one of his first official duties as the new Chief of Fire/Rescue Services, Christopher Byrne came forward to announce that the city staff had completed their review of proposals from over nine companies submitting presentations for the contract.

Both written and oral presentations were made to a five-member committee which in the end chose Manhattan Construction from Fort Myers, Florida. Their bid was deemed to be the lowest responsible bidder at $87,613 and was recommended by staff for council approval.

Manhattan is presently managing the Construction Management at Risk contract for the Veterans Community Park build-out.

Chief Byrne has been intimately involved with the project and has been kept abreast of the plans, as a portion has been funded by FEMA Grants, and Byrne, along with Deputy Chief Battiato, and former Chief Murphy have worked together on the project over the last 6 years.

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