Council approves fire assessment study
With little dissent, Cape Coral City Council approved Monday a fire assessment study performed by Burton & Associates. The study sets the methodology for a new fire services assessment on properties throughout the city and provides City Manager John Szerlag the authority to do what is necessary to implement the plan.
The vote was 6-2 with Mayor John Sullivan and Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz dissenting.
The two-tiered methodology will recoup 63 percent of the cost of departmental operations and will raise $20.7 million.
Tier one would be a readiness fee that would go towards operations, including fire stations, vehicles and other fixed and unfixed costs. The set cost would be $106.43 and would apply to every property owner, regardless of acreage or whether the land is improved.
Tier two would be based on an “EBU,” or equivalent benefit unit, which would be $3.96 per $5,000 worth of a structure (not the land), rounded to the nearest $5,000.
The few objections came from Chulakes-Leetz, who questioned Burton on wether the assessment will be waived for disabled veterans.
Ed Morris, a resident who asked what improvements would be made with the $20 million to be raised, criticized the methodology.
“The methodology is a scam. Sixty percent of the calls are medical and only 25 percent are for fire,” Morris said.
Szerlag said the projects would be determined during the budget process.
An ordinance was also introduced to authorize the imposition of the fire assessment. A public hearing date was set for July 15.
In other business, the city approved naming property at 2503 SW 41st St. as surplus land and conveyed it to an adjoining property owner. The vote was 6-2.
Council also voted unanimously to prepare a list of properties that would be appropriate for use as affordable housing. Five properties were deemed appropriate.
They are at: 120 Nicholas Pkwy, 628 NE Van Loon Lane, 233 SE 7th Pl., 3006 SW Santa Barbara Pl., and 4519 Skyline Blvd.
The city council also voted 6-2 to designated the Committee of the Whole workshop meetings set for July 17 and 24, Aug. 14 and 21, and Sept. 11 as special city council meetings. That means they will become formal voting meetings,
Mayor John Sullivan criticized the move, saying the meetings should be moved to Mondays, council’s regular meeting day.
“I want it so everyone can see it. People are being hit for $18,000 to $20,000. They have the right to know,” Sullivan said of projected assessments for the next phase of the utility expansion project, the on-going subject of the Wednesday workshops.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said all UEP business has been happening on Wednesdays for four years.
“There’s no hidden agenda. We’ve known for four years the Committee of the Whole meetings. The only difference is we’re conducting business,” McGrail said.
By Sept. 11, the city must adopt a final assessment resolution, a debt ordinance, a resolution authorizing Szerlag to enter into a SRF loan, and a resolution to award seven construction contracts.
Monday’s meeting was last city council meeting before a month-long hiatus.