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Sewer expansion enters final phase

By Staff | Jan 13, 2016

With only 44 properties remaining to be converted from septic systems to the City of Sanibel sewer system, the expansion system is entering its fourth phase.

The total construction expansion costs for the fourth phase is estimated to be $1.2 million, which does not include legal, easement, project management and administrative costs.

In its Jan. 5, monthly meeting, the Sanibel City Council voted to cap the assessment at $10,000 with balance subsidized due to environmental benefits, instead of the first alternative, which was issuing a full cost to the resident/business with 50-percent assessment subsidy.

“This is a significant accomplishment for a barrier island,” said City Manager Judie Zimomra. “Getting to Phase Four is a milestone for Sanibel.”

The City Council also voted to move forward with sewer construction down Woodring Road.

“We should move forward with the construction without interruption,” said Mayor Kevin Ruane. “We should finish what we started.”

The City will connect the remaining five properties up to city sewer on West Gulf Drive and 19 more on Woodring Road, which will leave 20 properties to be connected in the final phase. The remaining properties which will be left unconnected are considered grandfathered in and are low-flow septic systems.

Those will be connected as those systems fail and no replacement systems will be allowed.

The entire Sanibel sewer expansion program has cost around $70 million over the four different phases.

In the City Manager’s report, the receipt of the Report of Captiva 2015 Wastewater Treatment Plant and Septic System was heard by the City Council.

Captiva, which is unincorporated and has its own panel, has an estimated 526 septic systems in its zip code. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, there are four wastewater treatment plants in the Captiva zip code, including Captiva Shores Condominium Association, South Seas Plantation, Tween Waters Inn and Sunset Captiva.

In the Utilities Assistance report for the South Seas Wastewater Plant, in the month of April, 610,000 gallons of raw wastewater was transferred to Sanibel’s Wastewater Plant due to flow in excess of plant capacity or due to a power outage.

David Mintz of the Captiva Panel, told the City Council South Seas is also planning on adding 142 more rooms to its resort, which will tax even more capacity in its Wastewater Plant.

Sanibel Public Works Director Keith Williams also reported there was a 38,000 gallon leak in October, which ultimately resulted in a couple of beach closings.

“We want to prevent that from happening again,” Mayor Ruane said. “We need to move forward and discuss short term and long term solutions, along with penalties.”

A motion was passed to pursue a feasibility study along with representatives from Lee County, TDC, DEP, Captiva and Sanibel.

The City Council voted unanimously to appoint incumbents Jason Maughan and Chris Heidrick to the Planning Commission.

There were a total of eight applicants for the positions, including Frantz Bertin, Chloe Bowman, Robyn Cook, Thomas Foley, David Sass and Jonathan Tongyai.

“All the applicants were excellent,” said Councilman Jim Jennings.

State Representative Ray Rodrigues made a presentation of what will be taking place in the State Legislation in Tallahassee.

Rodrigues reported the Federal government is slated giving the state only $600 million in Medicaid funding for 2016, with the State putting in $800 million.

“In 2014, the Feds gave $2 billion and in 2015, they gave $1 billion, while the State kicked in $400 million,” Rodrigues said. “There is a concern the House will not support giving the ($800 million). It could wipe out our surplus.”

Rodrigues is also sponsoring a bill (constitutional amendment) which will prevent property values from going up on homes if they go solar, which in turn will not raise the taxes on their homestead. Currently, there is a cap of three-percent increase on homes and 10-percent on businesses.

The constitutional amendment would also include if property value goes down, so do the taxes on it.

The City Council also voted 5-0 to not waive a resident rental fee of $475 per day for the Rims and Fins Car Auction and Show and not allow the consumption and possession of alcohol on city property, which would have taken place at the Community Park at 2231 Periwinkle Way during the event.

“We cannot waive the resident fee, because we don’t want to open the door to others asking to waive the fee,” said Mayor Ruane. “I also pause on the fact of having the freedom of bringing alcoholic (beverages) on city property.”

Ruane added if the alcohol was contained to within the walls of the Community House, he would have no problem granting the request.

There will be a new residence meeting run by the City March 2, while the new business owner meeting, which is the first one of its kind on Sanibel, will be May 4.

The regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Feb. 2, will be moved back to Feb. 16, starting at 9 a.m.

The amendment to the code of ordinances to provide a partial and limited exception to the bicycle width restriction on the two existing bicycle rental businesses and currently rent the Surrey-style of bikes was passed 5-0.