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Solid waste assessment bump proposed

By Staff | Jul 17, 2012

Cape Coral City Council heard from city staff regarding the proposed assessment on solid waste collection and on the anticipated millage rate for fiscal year 2013 during its workshop meeting Monday at City Hall, council’s first meeting back from hiatus.

While the discussion on maintaining the property tax rate at the current level went smoothly, the solid waste assessment, which included a pennies-per-home bump, drew discussion.

Financial Services Director Victoria Bateman, who presented both subjects, presented the numbers to council, saying the not-to-exceed assessment would be $161.35 for a single-family residence.

That would include a commercial subsidy of $4.11 and a Waste Pro Service fee of $3.42.

The current solid waste assessment is $160.54.

But the conversation bogged down over the meaning of a trust fund that would be used to reduce the assessment by $8.56, and on recycling, which increased sharply between 2010 and 2011.

“In 2010, the city recycled 10,806 tons. In 2011, we recycled 15,606 tons. That’s 42 percent since we went to bigger recycling cans,” Chris Chulakes-Leetz said. “We’ve been great at recycling, but we’re not giving back to solid waste collection.”

Another issue was Waste Pro’s requested increase of 2.8 percent, which is based on the consumer price index.

“Something simple has become complex. On the back page, the worst-case scenario is an 82-cent increase,” said councilmember Derrick Donnell.

Councilmember Marty McClain said, compared with other waste companies, Waste Pro is worth the cost.

“Waste Pro is the best the city has worked with. They’ve found efficiencies and not once have they not worked with us,” McClain said.

Chulakes-Leetz said Waste Pro had a hand in the vast increase in recycling.

“The prior contractor had Cape Coral buy recycle bins. Waste Pro provided the cans,” Chulakes-Leetz said.

City Manager John Szerlag started the discussion concerning the millage with a trend analysis of assessed tax value of Cape property, which showed the high-water point of $21.6 billion in 2007.

Szerlag said for the city to reach that level again at the 3.82 percent rate the city experienced this year, it would be 2037 before those levels are attained.

Also, general fund investments, which were $30 million in 2007, were virtually non-existent in 2011 and will represent little this year.

Szerlag’s proposed $459 million budget for next fiscal year is about $18 million higher than in 2012.

Bateman said the council would have to set the not-to-exceed millage rate next week, but staff recommended the rate should remain at 7.957 mills.

A mill is one dollar for every $1,000 of taxable value.

While the exact impact will vary depending on individual property valuation, the proposed rate represents an increase of $10 in taxes, to $434, on a home valued at $100,000 with homestead exemption for fiscal-year 2013.

The hearing dates were set for Sept. 6 and 20 so they wouldn’t interfere with other meetings.