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Cape Council to consider budget review candidates

By Staff | Jun 9, 2012

Three months after the Financial Advisory Committee was dissolved by the Cape Coral City Council, the elected board will consider a group of seven applicants for the newly formed Budget Review Committee.

The action is expected to come during the regular meeting Monday night at City Hall, the final meeting before the month-long hiatus.

It shouldn’t be a hard choice, seeing as there are seven seats on the board and that there wasn’t exactly a flood of applicants.

But there could be some fireworks.

Among the candidates are a former FAC board member and a former member of the first budget review committee, a predecessor of the FAC.

Considering the recent past, the BRC could be put under a particularly close microscope this budget season.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick said she wasn’t sure why so few applicants turned in resumes.

“I’m not certain if they were shy or if all the qualified people were scared off,” Erbrick said. “It’s a committee that gets really intensive during budget season.”

Erbrick said the way the FAC was disbanded may have had something to do with it.

“Maybe. I also think the FAC got put under the microscope,” Erbrick said. “The FAC forgot they were advisors looking out for our best interests. The best isn’t always declaring doomsday.”

Among the candidates are Russ Bell, formerly of the FAC, and Lyndia Bradley, former member of the previous BRC and current president of the Civic Association.

Bell said he’s too old to bear grudges and just wants to help the city.

“I joined the FAC to help the city and I feel the same way now,” Bell said. “People have to do what they have to do. I wasn’t singled out as the messenger. If I was really upset, I wouldn’t have rejoined.”

The others are former city council candidate Joe Coviello, retired Air Force officer Vincent Cummings, golf course committee member Joe Kibitlewski, redistricting committee chairman Gary Vandenberg and retired auditor Harvey Wolfson.

For Bradley, it’s about giving her expertise to a new group that doesn’t know all the nuances.

“People need to be concerned with the budget and my accounting background helps,” Bradley said. “I can give them my experience going in and help them through this budget.”

Erbrick’s only fear is if a council member has an issue with a candidate.

“We seem to have qualified people willing to do it. I had hoped we’d see more FAC members come forward,” Erbrick said.

According to city spokesperson Connie Barron, the initial city budget needs to be completed by July 11. When the council returns from hiatus July 16, it will receive its initial review. On July 23, the council must decide on a tentative millage rate, which thereafter it cannot increase.

In the meantime, the BRC will meet with department heads to go over their figures and make recommendations to city council, which should be ready to go over the document by mid-September.

The FAC was disbanded in March by the city council, led by Councilmember Marty McClain, citing what he deemed a doom-and-gloom outlook concerning the fire and police pension funds and its claims the funds could bankrupt the city.