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Council to examine revised sewer rates

By Staff | Sep 14, 2011

On Saturday, the City Council considered a pair of resolutions to adopt and establish a revised schedule of rates for the Sanibel Sewer System, to include a three percent increase in residential and commercial customers as well as a three-tier rate structure for general reclaimed water customers, the meeting ended with both items tabled for further discussion.

Resolution 11-076 had proposed a monthly sewer system rate of $53.50 (or $160.50 quarterly) per dwelling unit for homeowners, up from the current monthly rate of $51.94. Commercial customer rates were proposed at $8.04 per 1,000 gallons, with a variety of monthly rates – from $31.08 up to $778.31 – based upon meter size. It also established a connection fee of $3,915.53.

Also to be discussed was an update of the Sewer Debt Retirement of State Revolving Fund.

Mayor Kevin Ruane, who told his fellow council members that he had received a number of phone calls related to the proposed resolution, suggested that city staff examine the matter in greater detail.

“We should evaluate this as closely as we have to… maybe put this in front of another set of eyes,” said Ruane, who added that he would rather table discussions on the subject until their next meeting.

City Manager Judie Zimomra responded that she would direct staff to bring back alternatives – include the impact upon the city’s debt coverage – and offer a full presentation on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

In other business, Ralph Clark introduced a proposal by BIG Arts to conduct several site improvements at their Dunlop Road campus. Included in their plan is the removal of 50 non-native plants, installation of “hundreds” of native plants, widening on-site pervious paver paths and improving safety and access to the facility.

One suggestion BIG Arts had proposed was to move a pair of cabbage palms and complete some trimming of a buttonwood tree at the rear of the complex, which inhibits the view of the river behind Schein Performance Hall and their ticket office. However, because the facility sits on city-owned land, removal and trimming of vegetation is not permitted.

“I understand that it’s a small amount of trimming, but it does set a precedent there,” said Vice Mayor Mick Denham. “I would not support the trimming, but I do support the rest of it.”

Fellow councilman Jim Jennings added, “I think there’s gotta be a way we can do this, to help create maybe a better environment.” His suggestion received no support among the panel.

“I really struggle with setting a precedent, considering this is city property,” said Doug Congress.

“I appreciate, Jim, where you’re trying to go,” added Ruane, “but I don’t see how we can get there.”

The council voted 5-0 approving the BIG Arts proposed site improvements, minus the vegetation moving/trimming element.

Also, lease agreements with Dennis L. Roberts and Randal D. Wright at the east and west Sanibel Lighthouse Caretakers Cottages, respectively, were approved.