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Mayor Feichthaler focused on Council after primary loss

By Staff | Aug 30, 2008

Cape Coral Mayor Eric Feichthaler says he is focusing all his attention on city matters after his narrow defeat to incumbent Bob Janes in the Republican primary for the District 1 Lee County Commission seat Tuesday. Janes edged Feichthaler 19,009 votes to 17,303 votes to advance to November.

As required by law, Feichthaler resigned as mayor to run, but there still is work to be done until his last day in office arrives.

“My focus is I’ve got 11 weeks left,” said Feichthaler, whose last day will be Nov. 16.

Completing next year’s budget and jump-starting a stalled utilities project sit at the top of Feichthaler’s priorities list for the remainder of his time on the dais.

“The most important thing is getting the budget done in three weeks,” he said.

The budget process has been particularly difficult this year after property valuations in the Cape dropped 25 percent, overall, from last year, shrinking the city’s budget. The loss would have been greater had new construction not boosted the total.

Council members also voted last month to keep the current millage rate at 4.768 mills instead of approving City Manager Terry Stewart’s recommended rate of 5.068, and now must cut $4.7 million from the budget.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Sept. 3, with another set for Sept. 17, before the final budget is passed.

Perhaps an even more arduous task than the budget will be making headway with the city’s stalled utilities expansion project. The Council has been deadlocked over whether to go forward with the project or not. Feichthaler has voted against going forward until assessments for potential new customers in the Cape’s Southwest 6/7 corridor are reduced.

The latest portion of the UEP will cost $68 million, with individual assessments averaging about $10,000.Although Councilmember Jim Burch secured a reduction of about $500 for each assessment after talking with officials at MWH, the company in charge of the project, Feichthaler has said he wants a reduction of at least $1,500 for each individual.

“I’m hoping we can work together as a council to get the price down on the UEP,” Feichthaler said.

That may prove difficult because as of today, the 6/7 project must be re-bid, possibly driving up the overall price.