The Marco Island City Council would convene for its first meeting since the elections that saw three newly-elected councilors take their seats. Erik Brechnitz, Victor Rios and Sam Young would take their seats next to Councilors Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed and Charlette Roman.
Erik Brechnitz would be elected chairman for the next year and Victor Rios would fill the role of vice-chairman.
Holiday Parking Moratorium Passed
Residents were relieved when the council voted to once again create a moratorium on parking enforcement in residential driveways and swale areas. Councilor Roman would point out that this was the third year council had done this and suggested that it become part of the Code of Ordinances to eliminate the necessity of the action, and referred to the Ad-Hoc Parking Solutions Committee’s recommendations.
Councilor Rios would point out that the reshaping of the swales to facilitate better drainage may impact the ability of residents to park in those swales in the future.
During discussions regarding acquisition of a new dump truck for the Public Works Department, Councilor Young questioned how much usage any of the equipment gets. His concerns revolved around usage of equipment and he requested an inventory of equipment used by the department. Councilor Young would be the sole dissenting vote against the replacement of the vehicle.
Deputy Chief Batiato Praised
Marco Island Fire Rescue Department Deputy Chief Dave Batiato was recognized for his leadership and service in his response to the coordinated command staff in the Panhandle following Hurricane Michael. Chief Batiato thanked council and the interim city manager for allowing him to assist in that effort.
Marco would have been part of a larger strike force, however, due to equipment shortages within the community, Marco’s involvement would be shifted to another department.
County Manager Leo Ochs had recently made two options available to the city regarding enhanced ambulance transport service. Councilor Grifoni explained that the County Manager had suggested two possibilities.
′ House a second part-time ambulance on the island for 12 months a year. It would extend the present part-time arrangement by making that unit available during the entire year. The cost for that proposal would be approximately $138,520 per year in additional cost.
′ The second proposal would be to place a second unit on the island 24 hours a day for the entire year, at an approximate cost of $415,000.
Councilor Grifoni reported that their discussions also included a review of possible medication protocol changes. Council would agree that further discussions could be productive and suggested that the city look at making a commitment to show the sincerity of the council. Staff would report back with a recommendation by the January 22 council meeting as to suggestions on how to move forward.
During the election, the issue of hiring a professional city manager was at the forefront of many discussions and the desires of the residents on the island. When the issue came up on Tuesday evening, Councilor Honig spoke to the importance of moving forward and doing it in an expedited manner. “All candidates who ran, even those that did not prevail, agreed this must be of the utmost priority for the city,” said Honig.
Honig went on to suggest that David Harden should be interviewed by phone by Councilors Brechnitz and Young. Councilors had several questions regarding that process.
“I would like to have the two new councilors have the opportunity to interview the last three candidates we all had the opportunity to visit with,” said Councilor Grifoni.
Councilor Reed would continue to push for hiring a fulltime permanent manager.
Council would pass a motion to have the interim city manager reach out to the Senior Advisor of the Florida City and County Managers’ Association to inquire of the last three candidates as to their desires moving forward. Motion would pass unanimously.
Councilor Communications and Future Agendas
Under council communications, Councilor Honig came to the defense of former Chairman Grifoni in his handling of the Niblock matter, which resulted in a 4-3 vote of “No Confidence.” Councilor Honig complained about the news coverage and analysis of that situation. He would move for a motion of support for Councilor Grifoni, which was seconded by Vice Chair Rios. That motion would carry by a 5-2 vote, with Councilors Roman and Reed in dissent.
Chairman Brechnitz voiced his displeasure with the tone of meeting and hoped that it could be remedied, and reminded his fellow councilors it was time to put the past behind them and no longer continue to rehash past actions.
Councilor Rios would request that there should be a discussion regarding political signs and their placement throughout the community. He would also suggest that Code Enforcement be a stand-alone department and separated from the police department.