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Staff praised for trying to reduce water, sewer rates

By Staff | Sep 20, 2010

Cape Coral City Council-member Chris Chulakes-Leetz wants the community to know that city staff has worked hard to reduce water and sewer rates.
Scheduled to increase 15 percent during FY 2011, rates are now expected to increase 8.25 percent, if resolution 48-10 is adopted by council to set the rates for fiscal years 2011-2015.
“I’m pleased what city staff has accomplished … not to say 8.25 increase is good, but it beats a 15 percent increase,” Chulakes-Leetz said during Monday’s council meeting, adding, “This is a limited success, but I think the wheels are turning and we’re headed in the right direction.”
Under the previous projected rate hike of 15 percent, the average bill was expected to be $117 starting FY 2011.
With the new rate of 8.25 percent, the average bill is now projected to be $111.49 next year.
The average bill for water and sewer is projected to increase over the next four years, with the rate hike of 8.25 percent expected each year until 2014, when the rates are expected to increase 3.5 percent.
Mayor John Sullivan said council should discuss a “moratorium” on the restart of the utilities expansion program, while Public Works Director Chuck Pavlos said staff will continue to look at ways to reduce the rates further.
“We’re going to drive this down even further and present more options … we’re one team trying to drive this down,” Pavlos said.
In other news, council briefly discussed ordinance 78-10, which would mandate that 78 non-bargaining city employees take furloughs if they make $50,000 a year or more.
Assistant City Manager Carl Schwing said he suggested the furloughs as a cost savings measure and a parity move that would put non-union employees on a more level playing field with union employees who take furloughs.
The way the ordinance is structured has employees who make $50,000 – $74,999 a year take 16 hours of furloughs, while employees over $74,999 take 32 hours in furloughs.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail worried the unions would find this “tiered system” inequitable.
“If we keep this tiered system, I think we leave ourselves open to have to justify to our union workers why we have a two-tiered system,” McGrail said.