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New vehicles, new taxes on council agenda

By Staff | Apr 19, 2013

Cape Coral City Council is expected to set a public hearing date Monday for a proposal that would add a tax of up to 10 percent on electric bills.

Among the more controversial items up for discussion will be the proposed public service tax.

A public hearing is expected be set for April 29 on the public service tax, which would add a 10 percent levy on all purchases of electricity, effective Oct. 1.

That money would be used to help fund badly needed capital projects, such as rebuilding of infrastructure and the purchase of new vehicles and equipment, which was allowed to decay during the recession years, city officials said.

City spokesperson Connie Barron said Mike Burton of Burton & Associates will be there with his interactive model available so council can consider numerous options in real time.

Councilmember Rana Erbick said this is a golden opportunity to determine where the so-called “50-yard line” is in regards to reaching the $150 target per homeowner to reach what officials are calling financial sustainability.

“I’m hoping we spend the time to answer the questions that have come up. It’s not as cut and dry as people think and I understand their concerns,” Erbrick said. “When you start off, you go with a concept. Then you get into the buzzwords of ‘the weeds’ and that’s what we’re getting into. What is the magic number?”

Also on the agenda is the purchase of new police and fire vehicles and ordinances of the planning and zoning variety.

One of the consent items council will consider seeks to replace a dozen police vehicles, a pothole truck and a brush truck at a total cost of $564,860.

The police cars will cost about $28,500 to replace, the brush truck will cost about $90,000, with the expected cost of the pothole truck at about $120,000.

The city earlier this year purchased a new fire truck, and this latest round of purchases will leave roughly $398,000 remaining in its capital budget.

The cars they would replace were all purchased in 2006 and before, with most of the police vehicles having more than 100,000 on them.

“It’s a little embarrassing when police cars break down on the way to a call,” Erbrick said. “We appropriated the funds for this, and they’re following through.”

Also on the agenda is a discussion item brought forth by Mayor John Sullivan regarding the warning on the back of city water bills, which he wants placed up front.

He said since nobody reads the back of the bill, the placement of the warning constitutes a health hazard.