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Editorial: Much work to be done with council’s goals

By Staff | Sep 14, 2011

When the Sanibel City Council convenes next Tuesday afternoon, when they are expected to formally adopt their Fiscal Year 2011-12 budget, they will also approve a set of goals aimed at strengthening and sustaining the city’s financial stability.

Included in those goals, which were introduced during Saturday’s first public budget hearing, are ambitions to improve both local and regional water quality as well as objectives to develop a long-term Debt Early Retirement Plan and Facility Component Replacement Plan.

While the city has included their mission to promote enhancements to the quality of water in the island’s surrounding bays, rivers and estuaries in each of the last three annual budgets, the additional proposals are being introduced for the first time.

In attempting to develop a long-term Debt Early Retirement Plan, the city will strive to come up with a feasible plan to early retire long-term debt in order to reduce Sanibel’s annual fixed costs and produce substantial financial savings for taxpayers.

In order to preserve and protect the city’s facilities, periodically major components – such as roofs, HVAC systems and flooring – must be replaced. As proposed in the Facility Component Replacement Plan, the objective is to identify those components, their estimated replacement costs and each component’s scheduled replacement date. Procedures and funding requirements will be developed to establish a sinking fund account, which will be used for the replacement of those components.

We commend the council and city staff for identifying these goals, and offer our support in their desire to achieve them. However, we think there is more work to be done and additional goals which could be identified.

Redevelopment, for example, has been under discussion for the past several years. More recently, councilors approved a resolution related to the island’s Resort Housing District. However, the new legislation does not affect short-term rental properties outside the district. Work on the subject is slated to begin in the near future, so identifying the council’s goals for that legislation would be of great benefit to the city’s Planning Commission and associated staff.

Also, as identified in the Resort Housing District ordinance, redevelopment which incorporate “green” technologies – best ecological practices consistent with the Sanibel Plan – is highly encouraged. Back in June, when the council formally adopted this legislation, Vice Mayor Mick Denham requested the staff perform additional research related to “green technologies” and return the item for discussion at a later date. To date, this has not been done.

While the city’s stringent fertilizer ordinance offers very specific limitations and standards, the adopted redevelopment pact was rather vague in detailing exactly what “green” technologies were to be included. Although several members of the Planning Commission offered a few helpful suggestions (i.e. the use of solar power, cisterns, sustainable construction materials, organics, etc.), no specifics were included.

There is much work still to be done.

We would encourage council members to consider these two additional goals, and any other objectives deemed worthy of inclusion – such as further refinement of their regional water quality goals, as Denham also suggested – in the city’s FY2011-12 budget, before any final approval is completed.

– Reporter editorial