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Cape Coral to revisit planning council withdrawal

By Staff | Aug 27, 2011

Cape Coral City Council will again tackle on Monday the question of whether the city should be a part of the Regional Planning Council.

City council members hope that more information will help them to decide whether to back out of the regional group, which includes municipal and county officials from six southwest Florida counties.

City council already has had a workshop and voting meeting to discuss the issue.

The city pays $50,000 annually to have a seat at the table, the most of any other city spread across the region.

The fee is based on population, or .30 cents per citizen.

Mayor John Sullivan said the RPC is in midst of reinventing itself and he doesn’t know if the city should stick around while it does so. He also doesn’t know how the city has benefitted from being part of the RPC.

“I want to see something they’ve done for us to make it worthwhile for us to stay there … I haven’t seen anything I’ve felt was beneficial to the city,” Sullivan said.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said he discovered that Sanibel held the rotating seat for Lee County, which it used to share with Bonita.

Sanibel holds that seat permanently now, he said, and he’d like Cape Coral to have a shot at the rotation.

“Why is our city not receiving the same treatment as the others?” Chulakes-Leetz asked. “I simply want us to stay on the council and be part of the rotation for the free seat.”

Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra said the city is not on a rotating seat currently.

She said the city has not taken a position one way or the other but that Sanibel’s city council likely will discuss the issue.

She added that Sanibel has not seen a proposal from the RPC or the city of Cape Coral on the matter.

“Our council will debate it when they’re together,” Zimomra said. “It’s premature to speak for council until they take a position and discuss it as a whole.”

Cape Coral Councilmember Pete Brandt said the city is spending a lot of money for little benefit.

“There’s not evidence of anything that’s come out of there,” Brandt said. “It occurs to me they discuss things at a level over the heads of municipalities.”