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City to issue refunds for finished utilities areas

By Staff | Aug 13, 2009

Some Cape Coral residents in recently completed utility assessment areas will receive refunds from the city next week after price reductions on materials and construction and state grants led to a decrease in the overall cost of the project.
The cost of providing water, sewer and irrigation utilities to three recently-completed assessment areas — Surfside, North Central Loop and Southwest 5 — came in lower than the maximum price, resulting in the refunds and savings totaling $1.56 million.
For property owners with average-sized lots who received all three utilities, the savings would total $607.81 in Surfside, $1,929.67 in SW 5 and $1,725.05 in North Central Loop.
Although the cost of the utilities expansion project has been cited by some city council members as a reason to stop its progression into the next assessment area, Southwest 6/7, news of the refunds did not seem to change any minds on the dais.
“Obviously there should be a refund. But how big is the discount going to be in 6/7? That’s the question,” Councilmember Eric Grill said.
The nationwide recession, which has been felt acutely in the Cape, combined with the prospect of $17,000 in assessments and fees for all three utilities in SW 6/7, has led council members to waver in their support for the project.
In the past year, the council has voted for and against the project five times.
Grill would like to see the lowest possible price of the project before work is begun and assessments are paid.
“Quite frankly, with the financial situation the city’s in, that everybody’s in, we should be trying to get that discount immediately,” he said.
That task, however, is nearly impossible.
Cape Coral received $1.9 million in state grants over the course of the project, helping to lower the cost. Those grants cannot be counted upon before the project begins.
“It’s not like you would know it would come in lower,” Councilmember Dolores Bertolini said.
For residents in the completed assessment areas who paid their assessments upfront, the city will begin mailing out refund checks Friday. Those who financed their payments will see reduced payments on their tax bills.