Question Four: Capacity reservation charges
Each week through the General Election, 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. The fourth question is: What is your position on the assessment of a “capacity reservation charge” on infill properties where utilities are available as a way to help pay for the new water plant? Your position on accelerating, or imposing, these fees on properties where utilities are not available, such as the north Cape?
Peter Brandt (I)
Although the “new water plant” is responsible for a significant portion of the total utility facilities debt, any measure such as assessing the infill properties for a “capacity reservation charge” is designed to lift some of the burden of servicing that total debt off the backs of the current ratepayers. Note that these assessments are for monies that will be due for these properties when they are developed and full credit will be given for any monies paid. I’m in favor of moving forward with this.
As for moving into areas north of Pine Island Road with similar assessments, I believe only the water utility should be considered and then only after the infill assessment has been tested and implemented. _____________________________
John Carioscia Sr.
The answer to both questions is that imposing fees in either case is unacceptable. It is a ruse to get current unimproved lot owners to pay for something that:
A. they have already paid for in their assessments on the lot.
B. and/or to pay for something they are not currently using/impacting.
This is wrong and should not be implemented.
In 2008 the incumbent in District 2, Peter Brandt, cast a vote to stop the Utility Expansion Project while not stopping the North RO plant from being built. Here we are 3 and half years later and still no plan has been implemented to address the rising rates on those currently on city water. Where can the solution to this problem be found? It is found in the restarting of the UEP and putting more rate payers on the system to share in the cost of the bond obligations. _______________________
William Deile (I)
This issue came up about four years ago; in theory if services are present at a particular parcel, plant capacity must be available to hook-up. Therefore, the parcel owner should share in the cost of construction of that capacity. This program would affect approximately 16 percent of parcels south of Pine Island Road owned by Cape Coral residents. Infill assessment, together with cost savings measures already in place, would permit the City to reduce utility rates and avoid increases until 2015. This is a concept I am in support of. A program in areas where services are not available (generally north of Pine Island Road) rests on less firm legal ground. The bond validation process for an infill assessment will give us a better understanding of the legal ramifications involved. Absent that information I could not support such a program outside the infill area.
Leonard Nesta Jr.
I have said this from the beginning of my campaign, that I am not in favor of the infill assessment. I support restarting the UEP. It won’t happen overnight, but we need to move in that direction, and we need to put water up in the north where it is necessary. I am open minded to all other options. I would like to hear from the citizens about it.
I am not in favor of forcing unimproved properties to pay for utilities they are not using. It is also unfair for current utility customers to finance the new water plant. To resolve the dilemma, I propose that all property owners who have not paid impact fees be offered an incentive to voluntarily pay now in order to avoid higher fees in the future. In addition, we need to carve out the areas of SW 6/7 and North 1-8 that have sufficient development or are environmentally sensitive and accelerate the installation of utilities in those areas, including consideration of water only.
Wm. “Scott” Morris
Where utilities are already available there is a benefit provided for the landowner regardless of whether or not the property is hooked into the system. The benefit is the existence of the common infrastructure for the utilities. I could support a capacity reservation charge in these areas provided it is legal and a fiscally responsible payment plan is presented to the landowner. At the present I would not support a capacity reservation charge in areas where utilities are not available. I believe there are legal problems with such a charge as no real benefit exists for the landowner.
I urge all citizens to research and understand this very important issue. I do realize that by implementing this strategy it will help reduce the water plant debt and reduce water rates. The premise of the charge is justified, but at the time the residents made the decision to purchase their lot(s), they were not made aware of this possibility. To “change the rules” at this point would surely cause legal, emotional and financial challenges. I am not in support of the charge for properties in the north because you don’t charge a fee for services that are not available.
I am against “taxation without representation” which is what charging a capacity reservation charge on infill properties (empty lots) where utilities are available and have the same opinion where utilities are not available such as the North Cape. The City Attorney has given her legal opinion that this practice would be illegal and the City of Cape Coral would probably be sued if this was put in place. For the last three years and according to the current “plan” water rates will increase through 2016 under the current plan this City Council has in place.
* City of Cape Coral General Election: Nov. 8
Voter registration book closed 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.