Cape Coral City Election 2011: Question of the week, week one: Top issues
Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. This week’s question (published Saturday, July 30): What are the three most urgent issues facing Cape Coral that council has the ability to address?
Peter Brandt (I)
First is continued reduction of spending to lighten the tax burden on our residents. I am confident that we can find more economies in the ways essential services are provided. Second is continued emphasis on economic development that again will help to lighten the tax load on homeowners. Great potential exists with the widening of SR 78, VIZ, etc. Getting the plans laid for continuation of the UEP is essential. We must determine the most cost effective way to proceed and under what circumstances it will result in an economic benefit rather than a potential detriment to the community.
John Carioscia Sr.
1. The Budget.
Addressing waste, learning to do doing more with less and most importantly the prioritizing of any cuts, which will help prevent the “cutting costs at all costs” mentality.
2. Utility Expansion Project or U.E.P.
In June, 2008, the City Council voted to stop the U.E.P. knowing that the RO water plant was in the process of being built and the cost of this project was to be shared by all rate users.
3. Economic Development Office.
This department is responsible for recruiting new businesses to Cape Coral and with the success of that recruitment would come the expansion of the Cape’s commercial tax base and the increased employment opportunities for the residents.
1. Economic Development The city needs to hire a quality proven Economic Development Director and put more resources into this office focusing on recruiting businesses nationally and locally targeting three sectors technology, medical, and hospitality.
2. Infrastructure needs to be established for the future growth of our city and major corridors need to be ready for the incoming businesses. It’s important that we increase the commercial tax base of only 8% and take some of the burden off our residents.
3. Support private business influx through user friendly processes and incentives, it’s the engine for economic growth and more jobs.
Daniel Sheppard III
The most urgent issue facing our city today is political partisanship. The inability to compromise and bridge the partisan divide within government, it’s the greatest hindrance of progress in our city and our nation.
The economy is another most urgent issue. Proactive policies that promote a business friendly environment in Cape Coral are much needed. A pragmatic approach to business is required in light of today’s economic realities.
The UEP, is a painful yet necessary step in any path to progress, although policies regarding the pace of its implementation must follow a comprehensive review of the impact on our citizens.
William Deile (I)
Budget priorities/levels of service. With declining resources, state funds, sales tax, and impact fees, it becomes critical that we operate more efficiently with less waste and corruption.
Economic development. Programs are in place with customized incentives and the establishment of the VIZ and FIZ programs. A professional to head up this effort is needed. Federal malaise makes investors less likely to take risks. Commercial development is a trailing indicator.
Long term planning. Well focused, well articulated plan with milestones and metrics. Periodic review to assure that it is on track with our residents’ desires to see their community grow.
Leonard Nesta Jr.
Utilities expansion project: Restarting the utilities expansion project by looking at all the options for payment plans and rebidding. Looking to keep some work in house. Keeping an open mind while researching all our options.
Infrastructure: We need to look at the Budget to reinforce the funds to maintain good line items to oversee that what is needed stays strong.
Economic Development: We need to work closely with the Economic Development office to promote the City. We need a strong community relations group to market the City to bring in more growth.
Raising substantial revenue to meet the increasing budgetary needs of a growing city
Being able to maintain and enhance the quality of life throughout the city
Re-starting the UEP while finding ways of providing financial relief for those paying the ever increasing pricetag of assessments
JOBS, TAXES, Expansion of the UEP
I will pick up JOBS as the most important of the three.
Promote new jobs. Jobs add revenue to the community. Incentive programs for businesses.
Construction in Cape Coral. No jobs, no community.
The three most urgent issues for Council, in no particular order are economic development, affordable utility rates and improving the reputation of the Cape. The citizens need better and more stable jobs that are not tied to the service industry. The utility rates are continuing to increase, while people are already struggling with how to pay their bills. We need to get the water and sewer rates down something that is comparable to other cities. Once we fix the first two items and the third should fall in line.
1. Managing the budget is crucial to enable the City to stay in business. Care should be taken to move forward, spend and save wisely to maintain or enhance our way of life. Make the tough decisions that are in the best interest of the City, its residents and the future of Cape Coral.
2. Economic Development – streamline the process, promote opportunities, invest in our future.
3. How the Council conducts themselves and the image they project. Respect and courtesy needs to be extended when interacting with the public, employees, other agencies and each other as this says volumes about our city.
Business, Community, Jobs. The city needs to concentrate its efforts in making and promoting Cape Coral the place to be for all types of business. We need to lead the push for our community to come together, to work together, solving the everyday problems our citizens face. Council needs to work hard with the community and local business to strengthen our job numbers here in Cape Coral helping build our great community up higher than ever before. These three issues I see as most urgent that a councilmember may champion to lead Cape Coral into the next four years.
I believe problem number one is the water rates. I would like to explore borrowing from reserves to pay at least the principal (possibly the interest) on the Water Improvements bonds that will soon be issued. We would then pay off the internal borrowing from future impact fees. Two is the direction council is looking. They are spending all of their time looking backwards because of the agenda of the “gang.” We need to spend the majority of our time working on the future of our great city. Third, we need to decide how to decide to restart the UEP.
Wm. “Scott” Morris
1. Economic growth. Make sure the Economic Development Office has the necessary resources to market Cape Coral nationally and internationally. We have over 400 miles of canals, cheap housing, plenty of sunshine and a qualified labor force.
2. UEP must be restarted. Determine the most fiscally responsible way to make it affordable for citizens. Longer payment period for assessments may be necessary.
3. The city’s image can improve by a more professional, civil attitude coming from the dais. More discretion needs to be used in discussing certain emotional issues in the media until the issues are resolved.
People: People of Cape Coral need to belong to the community and the community needs to be part of the local government
The North Cape RO Plant: This facility costs the same: serving 500 customers or 1000 customers. We need to spread out the cost.
Businesses: We need businesses in Cape Coral that will create jobs for the citizens of Cape Coral.
Derrick Donnell (I)
UEP: Infrastructure is critical for our city. We must: Restart the UEP; Establish a definitive timeline; Rebid and move forward ASAP. This should NOT financially impact the residents for a minimum of two years.
CITY IDENTITY: We must clearly decide what we want as our amenities and service levels. Once established, contentious millage rate discussions would be eliminated.
CITY GOVERNANCE: We MUST improve our relationships between the city council, city manager, residents and businesses. Our city has been hit hard by the economy. It’s imperative that we treat each other with courtesy and respect – even when we disagree philosophically.
The most important issues facing Cape Coral today are Jobs, Spending-debt and the UEP. The council can address jobs by projecting a positive and progressive image around the world. Cape Coral needs to target advertise nationally and internationally. We have an abundance of prime properties ready to be occupied. Hosting special events will increase Cape Coral’s image and create a greater awareness by potential new residents resulting in subsequent business opportunities for the City.
The council should, constantly, be looking for more ways to reduce our spending and lower our debt.
The UEP build out should be re-started only after a cautious examination of all potential opportunities and related costs.
The number one issue facing our city is the lack of economic development taking place in Cape Coral, government needs to foster a positive business environment and encourage new businesses to move into Cape Coral getting government out of the way of business. The image of the city needs to improve by having the City Council and Mayor work together in a positive manner, right now the news clips from Cape Coral are not projecting a positive image. Water bills in this city continue to climb, an affordable solution needs to happen now.
The City Council has many urgent issues that need to be addressed. In my opinion, the Council should first address the outrageous water rates customers have been forced to endure. The second issue that Council should consider is re-bidding the Utilities Expansion Project in order to get our city in compliance with state regulations and to bring clean water to those who desire it. The final urgent issue facing our city is economic development. I believe that Council should investigate the many great industries that we could bring into our city in order to create jobs and stimulate our economy.
* City of Cape Coral Primary Election: Sept. 13
Voter registration book closes Aug. 15
Early voting: Sept. 3 and Sept. 6-Sept. 10
* City of Cape Coral General Election: Nov. 8
Voter registration book closes Oct. 11
Early voting: Oct. 31 through Nov.5
Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections meaning registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.