Marco Island

 

Police\Sheriff Financing  

So much to cover – so little space.  As you probably know, five members of the new ad hoc “charter committee” are also members of CITIZENS.  And, as you probably already know, Bill Moss attended the last meeting of CITIZENS to discuss various things – including various aspects of the City Charter.

So – were any “Sunshine Laws” broken?  The members of the ad hoc committee that were affected were Lazarus, Vann, Young, Curran, and Ayling.  Lazarus, Vann and Young left the meeting before any discussion began, and went outside with a reporter from the Eagle.  Ayling wasn’t present at the meeting. Jim Curran stayed, but just to make “doubly sure” that no “Sunshine Laws” were broken, did not participate in the discussion.   

On to another subject - the police.  In Harold Clemens’ last letter to the Naples Daily News, he said something I heartily agree with:  

 

“That $2 million for police would now come in handy.” 

You’re right, Harold – we could use that $2 million right now, and help is on the way.  The City Council is pursuing an aggressive approach with the County Commissioners to reduce moneys we pay for Sheriff’s services we no longer need – and, as a matter of fact, are partially gone already.

 

Mike Minozzi is the “point man” in this effort, and he has already had meetings with Sheriff Don Hunter, members of the Naples city government, and county commissioners about this issue.  In a nutshell, the 

City of Marco Island and the City of Naples are asking the County 

to reinstate an MSTU to cover these services and reduce the “County” portion of your millage rate by about .5 mills.  If that happened, your millage rate would drop from about 13.55 to 13.05 -  but what is the justification for this decrease in our taxes?  Well, as you probably know, the number of Sheriff’s deputies working out of the Marco Island substation has been reduced from 17 to 10.  These ten deputies patrol “Area 6” of the County, which takes in Marco Island, Goodland, Isles of Capri, and other unincorporated areas.

  

Marco island is 21 square miles.  The total area patrolled by the 10 deputies is 84 square miles.  It stands to reason that most of their time is going to be spent “off island” on road patrol.  They have been criticized for not patrolling our “neighborhoods” as well as our own police do.  I think this is a bum rap.  With all the deputies y have to do, we’re lucky to see them on Collier Blvd and Barfield.  The Marco Island Police have the luxury of never leaving the island unless they are 

called upon by another law-enforcement agency.  So they can patrol a lot more effectively. 

 

Mike and his counterpart at the City of Naples, along with the City Managers of both cities, are putting on a “road show” for each County Commissioner.  If Mike succeeds, Harold’s wish will come true, and we 

will have the best of both worlds – our own police and the savings that we should have with our police.  

 

So why am I bringing all of this up?  Because our City Council will need our help when they go before the County Commissioners.  When the hearing on this issue is on the County’s agenda, we must go to the hearing and support our City Council and our Commissioner, Donna Fiala.  Donna is very friendly to the island.  She will need our support.  Naples will have their own contingent at the hearing.  

 

There will also be those who are opposed to us at the hearing.  The Commission will be very interested in seeing who feels strongly enough about the issue to come to the hearing.  I have read many letters from citizens of Marco Island complaining about the “$2 million we spend on police.”  Now is your chance to do something about that.  We have our own police, and they’re going to stay.  Let’s stop fighting the “police 

battle” and start doing something positive.  I’m sure that CITIZENS, MICA, MITA and all other island groups will back this effort.  If you don’t, then please don’t ever complain to me again about “$2 million for police.”    

 

And what if we fail?  We just keep trying!  Eventually, we’ll win  because the present set-up isn’t fair, just, or ethical.  Remember when the island had money set aside to repair our infrastructure  and the County took it and spent it elsewhere in the county?  It was that sort of thing that galvanized many of the islanders into opting for cityhood.  This is just “more of the same.”  If we don’t give up, eventually we’ll win.

 

Mike says it will be another month or two before the Board of County Commissioners hears our arguments in a formal setting. Until then, why don't we all give a big "thank you" to our City Council and our City Administration for taking these steps on behalf of our City?

                                                        GEORGE LESTER

 


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