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FAC appointments expected Monday

By Staff | May 2, 2009

By GRAY ROHRER, grohrer@breezenewspapers.com
A few weeks ago the existence of Cape Coral’s Financial Advisory Committee, a seven-member board that makes budget recommendations to the City Council, was in jeopardy.
By Monday, however, the FAC could be restored to its full complement of members, surviving the abrupt resignation of its chairman and a call by one of its members to disband it.
Councilmembers are expected to vote Monday on replacements for former FAC chairman Michael Foye, who resigned last month over frustrations over city spending and council members not adopting FAC recommendations, and former committee member Gloria Baron, who moved to the east coast of Florida earlier this year.
In the aftermath of the absences, FAC member Cheryl Peppers wrote a memo to council members suggesting the committee be disbanded.
Six people have applied for the open FAC seats, including former mayor Arnold Kempe and former FAC members Lyndia Bradley and Carmen Salome.
Councilmember Dolores Bertolini said she was pleased the applicants have prior budget experience and will be able to step seamlessly into the FAC role during a difficult budget year.
“It sets me at ease because people with experience came out,” Bertolini said.
The city is facing an estimated 35 percent drop in property tax revenues, and council members began conducting monthly budget workshop meetings in December — the earliest the council has ever began budget work — to develop ideas to make cuts and boost revenue.
In March, council members voted on a target operating budget of $116.4 million, and are currently looking for ways to cut at least $10 million from the budget to meet the revenue forecasts of city staff.
Kempe, who served as mayor from 2000 to 2005 and a frequent critic of city spending, said his familiarity with the budget and the inner workings of the city would make him an excellent FAC member.
“I think I know and understand the city’s operations. I’ve been in government virtually all of my adult life,” Kempe said.
Bradley was a member of the Budget Review Committee, a precursor to the FAC, for four years and served on the committee while Kempe was mayor.
Echoing some of Foye’s concerns about the City Council’s lack of responsiveness to FAC budget recommendations, Bradley said Kempe and the council members at the time did not always take the advice of the BRC.
“There’s no guarantee they’ll take your suggestions 100 percent but they will review them,” Bradley said.
The other applicants for the FAC positions are Virginia Gladick, Steven Hook, and Linda Prince.