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Cape council spars over future of financial committee

By Staff | Mar 6, 2012

While the discussion of the future of the Community Redevelopment Agency bpard never materialized, the Cape Coral City Council had much to talk about regarding the future of its Financial Advisory Committee during Monday’s workshop at City Hall.

District 1 Councilmember Marty McClain introduced two resolutions that would disband the FAC and replace it with a Budget Review Committee), which the city used until several years ago.

McClain accused the FAC of distorting facts, not giving complete information and of bringing presentations to the council without council (or FAC) permission.

On the other side, while it agreed the FAC may have overstepped its reach, it also said to disband the FAC would be like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

“The two resolutions go hand-in-hand. I just want to know why you’re doing this to allay fears before it goes to a vote next week,” Councilmember Rana Erbrick asked McClain, who gave a blunt answer.

“The FAC has gone beyond the boundaries of imagination. I’m no financial wiz, but I expect to get a lay answer to a lay question,” McClain said. “The pension is a hot topic, but to come to the council when it didn’t call them to the council with fragmented information.” McClain said.

Erbrick, a former FAC member, agreed to some of McClain’s accusations, but not with disbanding the commity, especially with budget season looming.

“For 18 months, we’ve tried to get the FAC back to the basics. We had people who moved things in directions it was never meant to be,” Erbrick said. “But is disbanding the only way?”

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz called McClain’s resolution a case of “shooting the messenger.”

“It’s overkill to kill a whole commission to take one or two off. Any person you would want to resign would tender their resignation,” Leetz said. “Shooting the messenger goes back a long way.”

Leetz said the FAC was correct, citing an example of how Cape Coral pays for one in three police and fire personnel to be retired.

“This issue is years old. Nobody wants to deal with the real issue,” Leetz said.

Councilmember John Carioscia took exception to what he thought had become a meandering issue.

“Why are we beating a dead horse like we’re ignoring the issue when we’re not?” Carioscia asked. “Set up restrictions to keep the FAC from becoming loose cannons. English isn’t a second language.”

Mayor John Sullivan chose to look at all the good the FAC has accomplished.

“They’ve helped us with a lot of things. I don’t think there’s any misinformation,” Sullivan said. “I would be a shame if we had to hack them.”

The issue came to a head during the Feb. 13 City Council workshop, where FAC Chairman Don McKiernan gave a presentation regarding the city pension situation and how he said it threatened to blow up the city budget.

McClain said the FAC “has been shouting about doomsday for two years when it isn’t true,” and vowed to bring the disbandment of the FAC to the council.