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Council to consider UEP contract

By Staff | Oct 20, 2012

Cape Coral City Council is expected to vote Monday on a delayed resolution to hire an engineering firm for the even longer delayed Southwest 6 & 7 utilities expansion project.

A decision whether to hire Fort Myers engineering firm Tetra Tech at a cost of almost $7.68 million was postponed by Council on Oct. 1 after the board decided to bring it to a workshop first.

The board said it was not comfortable with the idea of voting on something with so much money involved without the proper discussion.

It was a decision that turned into a waste of time, according to Councilmember Kevin McGrail, since council stayed silent when it came up toward the end of a long Monday workshop session.

“When it came up last week, not a word was uttered. If it was such a burning issue, questions would’ve been asked last week,” McGrail said. “It’s a necessary first step in the process and needs to be done.”

City spokesperson Connie Barron said staff followed the directions council made to workshop it Oct. 15 and vote on it the following week.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz criticized the ordinance as an example of failing to follow priorities.

“We need disclosure before we start spending the taxpayers’ money,” Leetz said. “I have to remain consistent.”

Also on the agenda is a resolution to implement changes in the way overtime for fire and police is to be calculated in respect to their pensions.

State law requires an affirmative vote, but with all the talk about pensions and their future financial impact, officials say it still is an important matter.

“This proves that the issue of fiscal sustainability which some say we’re ignoring, is an incorrect claim,” McGrail said. “This is being dealt with at the national, state and local levels.”

The savings the city will achieve is unknown. Barron believes the savings will accrue over time and, that since the city has cut back on overtime over the past few years, savings will be realized there as well.

Others, like Mayor John Sullivan have said the state statute is a small step, but does little to address what could be a budget buster in coming years.

Among the consent items that could be pulled for discussion, there is a “not to exceed” amount of $1 million for water, sewer and irrigation materials available for purchase from numerous suppliers. McGrail said last year only $271,161 was spent on such supplies.

Also on the consent agenda is a fuel management system to be used by the city to track fuel consumption for $546,039.

“It’s more critical to look at fuel now. When gas was $1.50 a gallon it wasn’t cost effective. At $4, it pays for itself,” McGrail said.

Barron explained by the system is in need of replacement.

“It was antiquated and had tracking problems. This helps bring us to modern times. We’ll know what we’re using,” Barron said.

Chulakes-Leetz had the city manager to thank.

The previous city manager, that is.

“We have Gary King to thank for getting us in the proper direction and it’s the result of him,” Chulakes-Leetz.