Saturday, October 16, 2021

Spending Items Top City Council Agenda



By Noelle H. Lowery

Amidst discussions of building department controversies and continued questions about the revised Mackle Park redevelopment project, the Marco Island City Council made three important spending decisions during its second meeting in June.

Council unanimously approved the selection of the underwriting team for the refinancing of the city’s 2003 and 2008 water utility bond series set to close later this summer. Bank of America will serve as the senior manager with Citi and RBC as co-managers. The price tag for the services: $75,000.

According to City Finance Director Guillermo Polanco, 14 companies responded, and Bank of America’s fee structure was the cheapest at $1.27 per $1,000 in bonds sold. In the past, underwriting fees have cost the city as much as $7.50 per $1,000 in bonds sold.

“The last issue sold out in a matter of hours,” pointed out Councilor Larry Magel.

Next, the council unanimously approved the selection of American Engineering Consultants of Marco Island Inc. for the design of the Shared-Use Pathways Project for fiscal year 2014. The design services contract totals $107,000.

American Engineering Consultants will design the Shared-Use Pathways projects in four project areas of Marco Island: San Marco Road from Collier Boulevard east to Bald Eagle Drive; San Marco Road from Cushing Lane east to North Barfield Drive; Tigertail Court from Collier Boulevard north to Hernando Drive then west to Spinnaker Drive; and Winterberry Drive from Collier Boulevard east to Peacock Drive. A $941,173 Florida Department of Transportation grant will fund these projects.

Finally, in a vote of 4-3, the council narrowly approved the purchase of a new agenda development software solution known as the Granicus Open Platform Suite. IT Director Gretchen Baldus explained that the new system will correct and streamline the numerous inefficiencies currently involved in the city’s process of public meeting agenda preparation and document management, virtually ending the need for paper agendas at City Council meetings.

According to Baldus, the initial capital outlay for the city will be $58,772.50, with a monthly fee of $3,249. The estimated return on the city’s investment in year one is $1,978.46 and $24,840 in year two, based on the city’s current costs of developing City Council agendas. The software also will eliminate the need for the existing meeting encoder service which allows the city to rebroadcast its meetings online. This services now costs the city $5,500 annually.

Specifically, the new cloud-based suite will provide live and on-demand webcasting of public meetings; allow for paperless agendas through a website with complete searchable access to all public meeting information; provide an iPad application for council members with the option for note-taking and links to materials and past meeting videos; provide an automated agenda workflow solution, including version tracking, report generation, automated upload to City website and links to legislative data, such as ordinances and resolutions; provide a web-based forum to facilitate citizen engagement; automate the capture and production of meeting minutes during a live meeting, including roll call, agenda items, speakers, motions, votes and notes; and allow for live recording and tracking of motions.

Chairman Joe Batte and councilors Larry Honig and Magel voted in dissension. “I find it frankly offensive,” said Magel. “Right now, I think this is an expenditure we really don’t need for what benefit I can’t see.”

Still, Baldus and Councilor Larry Sacher, who spearheaded the effort, prevailed — even convincing technology skeptic Councilor Amadeo Petricca to vote in favor of the purchase.

“I’m an old dog that wants to learn new tricks,” noted Petricca.

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