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Council takes step to bring water utilities to north Cape

By Staff | Feb 3, 2009

After nearly four hours of deliberation and over the objections of numerous residents, Cape Coral City Council members voted 4-3 Monday to proceed with a proposal to bring water utilities to the area known as North 1-8, generally described as the area north of Pine Island Road.
The water utility would mean estimated $6,000 assessments and fees for property owners, and is part of the city’s utility expansion program. The utility is one of three — the other two are sewer and irrigation — originally slated to be installed.
Residents and dissenting council members cited the severe economic crisis as the main reason not to move forward with the project, but proponents stated the poor economy has lowered the cost of the project.
“It’s bad timing. The UEP is a great idea, but it should be placed on hold right now,” said Michael Buchinski, a resident in north Cape Coral.
Supporters of the project on the dais, however, pointed to programs offered by the city that would allow homeowners to defer or delay costs and possible federal assistance as reasons to justify moving forward with the project despite the harsh economic times.
Those that meet certain income requirements can defer their annual payments with the option to renew their deferral each year. Residents can also choose to pay their assessment over the course of 20 years at an estimated interest rate of 7.5 percent, or pay the total assessment up front at a 20 percent discount.
The federal stimulus bill, which passed in the House and is currently being debated in the Senate, could mean extra funds for infrastructure projects such as the UEP in Cape Coral, but some council members weren’t convinced moving forward with the North 1-8 proposal was the best way to garner those funds.
“The stimulus package hasn’t even passed in the Senate yet. I’m afraid if we do it ourselves we may not see that money,” Councilmember Bill Deile said.
“We don’t know if that (the stimulus package) is going to come or not or that even if it does if it’s going to solve the issue,” Councilmember Eric Grill said.
Councilmember Pete Brandt joined Grill and Deile in voting against the measure, while Councilmembers Dolores Bertolini, Derrick Donnell, Tim Day, and Gloria Tate voted for it. Mayor Jim Burch abstained from the vote because his company, DRMP, did surveying work for the project.
Two public meetings will be held to discuss the issue with residents before a final public hearing is held March 9. The meetings will be held Feb. 19 and Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Mariner High School auditorium.