Letter From Dee Sulick – Blessed in Naples

Dear City of Naples Residents,

We are all blessed to live in this vibrant community, it was my honor to serve as your Council Member and Vice Mayor. My term in office (2008-2016) gives me unique perspective on the candidates now running for Mayor. Several important issues have boiled to the surface during the campaign season. Having worked with both candidates, may I offer some perspective.

September 2008, was the tipping point that devolved into a world wide fiscal crisis. Immediate steps were taken, we assessed and prioritized every City department: downsized staff, cut programs, trimmed the budget by 25% over the next year. Tight budgets became the norm for several years. Strategic planning became imperative.

City planning rules/codes have evolved over the past 25 years. Council has used visioning processes, resident input meetings, expert reports (Duany & Green) reports and traffic engineering studies. The population of the City has remained essentially the same, however County impacts on City services, roads, and amenities is a constant challenge.


#1 – Prior to 2008 we experienced deep drought conditions putting stress on drinking water supply. Analysis showed the expansion of our re-use water system would be the best way of address this issue. Acceptance and expansion of the system rested with providing a sustainable re-use supply. The City working with the local authority Southwest Florida Water Management District, initiating a deep Aquifer Storage & Recovery (ASR) wells project. ASR wells store treated runoff collected from the summer rains.

A companion project – building a weir that collects excess outflow from the Golden Gate Canal (single greatest contributor to Naples Bay pollution ). Daily the City now captures millions of gallons, piping, treating and injecting water into ASR wells. Providing the City a sustainable program that within a very short time reduced the gallons used per person/per day by nearly 50%, addressing community potable water needs well into the future.

#2 – The Council under Mayor Barnett did an analysis of Naples Bay outlets, leading to our City Lake Identification and restoration program. Property ownership needed to be established to determine maintenance responsibility, as taxpayer funds cannot be spent on private property. Immediate steps were taken to rectify the City Lakes and outreach to the Private Lake Associations has been on going.

#3 – The City of Naples has undertaken extensive restoration of oyster beds within Naples Bay.

#4 – The City vigorously supported the joint “Reef Project” an effort by private individuals, City of Naples, Marco Island, Collier County directing BP funds to establish several artificial reefs off our coastline.

We value our City employees – protecting their pensions was a priority.
Identified as one of the ballooning Budget items (2009-2010), the City working cooperatively with the employees and their unions undertook a comprehensive actuarial analysis of its pension plans. The result: saving City tax dollars – reduced more than $150 million of unfunded liabilities over a thirty year period.

Recognized as a constantly increasing fiscal concern is Health Care cost. Working with HR and our Healthcare Provider the City crafted a program that had greater emphasis on “Wellness” and pro-active management of individual health.

Tenth Street Stormwater Improvements
Reconstruction of the City Dock
Construction of the 6th Avenue Parking Garage
Construction of Fire House #1 – now a hardened facility that meets FEMA code.
Acquisition of land, design/planning/construction of Baker Park & Bridge.

The above issues/projects only scratch the surface of Mayor Barnett’s accomplishments over the years. May I suggest voters go to www.naplesgov.com, particularly easy to read 2018/19 Annual Report:
“WE ARE NAPLES” to understand how the City works to enhance our lives

I believe that Leadership is earned in good times and is tested in difficult times. Bill Barnett has led Naples through challenges (Hurricane Irma) and shared the City’s accomplishments (Baker Park). He builds consensus, charts a steady course, understanding the character that makes Naples a special place, we proudly call home.


Margaret Sulick

Financial Accountability

For the 38th consecutive year, the City has earned the Certificate of Achievement for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) from the Government Finance Officers Association for last year’s audit. The Certificate recognizes the spirit of transparency and full disclosure.

The 2019-20 budget was adopted in September 2019 using a millage rate of 1.18 mills, the same as the FY 2018-19 millage rate, and all statutory requirements were met. For the 15th year in a row, the City received the Government Finance Officers Association’s Budget Award, considered the highest form of recognition in public sector financial reporting.

On the one hand, the City Debt Policy establishes parameters and provides guidance governing the evaluation, issuance, management and reporting on all debt obligations issued by the City in compliance with Federal and State laws and the City’s Charter ordinances and resolutions. The City will only utilize debt obligations for acquisition, construction or remodeling of capital improvement projects that cannot be funded from current revenue sources or in such cases wherein it is more equitable to finance the project over its useful life. The City will not issue debt or use debt proceeds to finance operational costs.

Finally, the policy seeks to create procedures to minimize the City’s debt service and issuance costs, retain the highest practical credit rating, and provide full and complete post-issuance financial disclosure and reporting.

On the other hand, the City Investment Policy sets forth the investment objectives and parameters for the management of public funds for the City. The Policy is designed to safeguard the City’s funds, assure the availability of operating and capital funds when needed while providing an investment return competitive with comparable funds and financial market indices. The primary objectives, in order of importance, are safety of principal, liquidity, and return on investment.

Fact You Should Know to Dispel Inaccurate Information

General Fund

Revenues will exceed Expenditures thus leading to an increase in Fund Balance

One Cent Sales Tax

This tax began in 2019 and is earmarked for infrastructure and building repair. . The utilization of the One Cent Sales Tax Fund Balance of $1.9 M from 2019 is doing exactly what the intent of the money was collected for. It is not an operational fund designed to accumulate and hold fund balance.

Water Fund

The water fund has significant ($18.8 M) in capital expenditures budgeted in 2019-2020 for water infrastructure and capacity improvements. this capital investment in Water fund assets will increase value of assets and decrease fund balance by $8.4 while leaving $19.3 in expected Fund Balance reserve.

A Fund Balance of $19.3 M remains 3 times greater than required by Fund Balance Policy and is approximately 56% of the 2020 projected revenue of $35 M. This clearly demonstrates fiscal responsibility reinvestment into infrastructure and Fund Balance stability.

Storm Water Fund

The Storm Water Fund has capital expenditures budgeted in 2019-2020 including $7.9 M for Phase I water outfall project.

The capital investment is essential in target water quality issues for the City. While the budget book (page 7) indicates the Fund balance being reduced to $6.8 M for this important project.  Council also discussed an overall Stormwater Master Plan acceleration and directed staff to prepare financing alternatives for additional acceleration.

The current City Council has committed significant funds in the 2019-2020 Budget to water quality issues and have directed staff to bring additional funding options for additional acceleration.

The Budget was step 1. The workshop was step 2. In late April early May Council will be asked to approve financing options to preserve fund balance and to tackle additional items in the Stormwater Master Plan.

This expenditures exceeding revenues in the budget to invest and water quality while providing directive for staff to prepare additional financing alternatives demonstrates both commitment and prudence with Fund Balance stability.