Question of the week: Clarify issues
Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. This week’s question is: What, if any, information shared during the campaign season would you like to clarify for the voters?
JOHN CARIOSCIA – Incumbent
LCEC: The LCEC issue should be decided by the gathering of the facts, given to the residents and then have the residents vote, via referendum, on who should be the service provider.
PENSION REFORM: The pension reform resolution that I voted for has immediately effected all current employees and has already saved the city about $800,000.
CITY DEBT: It has been stated that the city is $1 billion in debt. Not true. $618 million of the city’s current $834 million debt is from the on-going Utility Expansion Project. This program is being paid for by those residents involved in the UEP, not by all the residents. $48 million is being carried for, as well as being paid for, by the charter school system, not by all the residents.
The balance of debt carried by the city is common, customary and traditional, especially with a city only 45 percent built out, due to growth.
It has been said that the city is not in debt for $1,095,455,912, as shown in the 2016 adopted budget by our city council.
It has been stated that the sum we owe in Water and Sewer is $400 million. It’s been stated that this is not a debt and all cities have Water and Sewer expansions.
Fact is, citizens who own property owe in principal $603,148,728. The amount of interest in 2016 is $28,927,510 and the city owes $632,076,238 in debt in 2016.
The Water and Sewer expansion is a debt owed by property owners from assessments set by city council on the property owners and each property has to pay the city for that debt. Ask any citizen who is paying the debt.
While the biggest issue facing the city is the LCEC contract, that franchise agreement will not be finalized until 2016 … so to discuss now is premature.
The second issue that brings the most discussion is the city’s finances. The revenue stream diversification is one that needs further explanation. The fire assessment fee reduces property taxes dollar for dollar. If a property tax bill goes up, it is because the assessed value went up and just think what it would be with another mill tacked on.
The Public Service Tax does need to be eliminated so that we can be the “most caring city in Florida.”
TIMOTHY W. BARRIER
I’d like to clarify a skeptical perception that folks may have of a Certified Public Accountant. True, we live a life working with numbers and financials but ultimately it is the compassion for individuals’ and business owners’ needs that make my career choice emotionally beneficial. In all of my everyday choices, personal and business, I try to support others within my community. I currently support nationally the Disabled Veterans and the Billy Graham Library. I locally support our Shiners and Elks. I also contribute my time to the many mission areas within my church; all with heart, helping others and beyond just numbers and financials.
Throughout my campaign, the number one question I have received is this: What is your stance on our contract with LCEC? Many mistakenly believe that I want to become a municipal electric provider.
I do not want to municipalize! However, I will not definitively rule out the option, because we would be doing the residents a disservice by neglecting to explore all possibilities. I believe that in the end, Council and staff will come to the conclusion that renegotiating a franchise agreement with LCEC is the best option. The information-gathering and negotiation processes are still playing out.
Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections meaning registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.