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Public input under way on UEP

By Staff | Jul 20, 2009

11:52 p.m.
The 57,000 lot owners in North 1-8 have been spared an average $6,000 in assessments and fees, thanks largely to Councilmember Gloria Tate’s change in vote.
Tate had voted for the project to bring water utilities to north Cape on June 8, but switched her vote tonight. Three votes on Southwest 6/7 water, sewer and irrigation utilities will follow after the council’s break.

10:25 p.m.
Council members have begun deliberating the utilities expansion project.
Councilmember Tim Day has introduced another payment option that would allow residents to make a down payent, lowering the overall cost of financing the project. The option would have to be voted on after the council votes on the project tonight.
Under the current payment options available, residents could pay for the project upfront, receiving a 20 percent discount, amortize payments that appear annual on their tax bill or defer payments for 10 years.

10 p.m.
There are only a few speakers left before council takes up their discussion on utilities expansion project.
While some speakers have spoken in favor of the project moving forward to prevent utility rate hikes on
current customers and to spark growth in the city, many have implored the council to stop the project, saying they will likely leave the city due to the added economic hardship.

8:55 p.m.
The council is taking a second break.
More than four hours into the meeting, the council appears no closer to its final vote on the utilities expansion project.
There are still residents who wish to speak on the issue.
After public comment is through, council members will likely address the concerns of the public before taking a vote.
There will be four votes on the UEP — one vote on the water utilities in North 1-8, and one vote each for water, sewer and irrigation utilities in Southwest 6/7.

8:25 p.m.
Council members continue to hear public comment on the utilities expansion project.
The majority of speakers continue to be against the project moving forward in Southwest 6/7 and North 1-8, but some speakers are voicing support for the project.
When and if council will debate the highly controversial project is yet to be determined.

6:50 p.m.
Council has taken a 10-minute recess.
A few speakers have voiced their support of the project. They are mostly ratepayers whose utility rates stand to nearly double over the next five years if the utilities expansion project is halted.
“You cannot let fear and hate steer your vote tonight. I’m asking you tonight to do the job you were elected to do and represent the majority of Cape Coral, not the minority,” said Lyndia Bradley, a resident of the Southwest 4 assessment area, to a mixture of boos and applause from the audience.
The majority of speakers, however, are against the UEP.
“How many more foreclosures will we have because people cannot pay the additional money?” asked John Traube, a resident of Southwest 6/7.

5:30 p.m.
As expected, the overwhelming majority of residents in council chambers are against the utilities expansion project, and applause follows every speaker who voices their opposition to the project.
“We’re hanging on by a thread. Now is not the time to do this. This is the worst time in history,” said Charlene Campbell, a Southwest 6/7 resident.

5:20 p.m.
The first public speakers are getting their first chance today to speak out against Cape Coral’s controversial utilities expansion project.
Council members are poised to give their final vote tonight on the UEP, which will bring an average of $17,000 in assessments and fees for 6,200 homeowners in Southwest 6/7 for water, sewer and irrigation utilities, and $6,000 in average assessments and fees for 57,000 lot owners in North 1-8 for water utilities.
The council chambers is standing room only, and others are watching the proceedings on a monitor set up outside.