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Council raises water, sewer rates by 5.5 percent

By Staff | Aug 23, 2011

The Cape Coral City Council raised water and sewer rates by 5.5 percent Monday night, but some on council are arguing the increase is much better than a previously scheduled increase that would have seen rates rise by 15 percent.

A “decrease in the increase” is what Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz called it, after he said the sitting council in 2009 approved a five-year rate increase plan that totaled 92 percent.

A 15 percent increase has been scheduled the next three years, but Chulakes-Leetz praised city staff and the city manager, who worked to lower the rates, he said.

“Any increase can’t be called a success but it’s a darn sight better than previous council’s had planned,” he added.

Councilmember Pete Brandt argued that the city’s water rates were not out of line with cities of comparable size and that in his house, his wife and dogs regularly rack up only $60 – $70 bills.

Mayor John Sullivan said the city has been able to strengthen itself financially and that has helped to lower the rates.

“We’re rolling bonds over and able to get a better interest rate,” Sullivan said.

In other news, the city’s solid waste collection rates are also going down by a few dollars, according to Billing Services Manager Bill Boyd.

Last year residents paid $168 to have their trash and recycleables collected. Next year residents will pay $160.54 for the same service.

Waste Pro Regional Vice President Keith Banasiak said the city has increased its recycling efforts by 43 percent over the previous fiscal year.

The city receives some funds back from Lee County, which processes Cape Coral’s recycleables.

“A 44 percent increase in our recycling is bringing money back to the city and citizens are getting a dividend for their trash, basically,” Chulakes-Leetz said.