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Cape Council nixes holiday switch

By Staff | Sep 20, 2017

The Cape Coral City Council addressed a shifting of holiday time on Monday, rejecting a measure the board felt could leave the city without adequate staff supervision.

The proposal would have allowed all the supervisors with the International Union of painters and Allied Trades for the AFL-CIO Local 2301 to take Christmas Eve off instead of Columbus Day, which would have either left the workers in charge the day before Christmas or forced the city to pay for a supervisor.

It was a situation that somehow got past Human Resources and City Manager John Szerlag, who simply said, “It seemed like a no-brainer.”

The measure would have resulted in two days without a manager at the water plant, something that three of the four city unions opposed and only a handful of union members even bothered to vote on, since it wasn’t a contract ratification, said union president Richard Jones.

Councilmember Rick Williams said he would have considered it, but not if it was only for a small handful of employees and not citywide.

City Council was not obligated to approve the bill or make a motion to deny it if it failed, so it shot the bill down. A companion ordinance to change the list of designated holidays was withdrawn by Szerlag.

Another ordinance to declare land on Southwest 23rd Street as unusable municipal surplus was also approved unanimously.

In other business, the city council named five new members to the Budget Review Committee, four of which are current members and the other a former member.

Joe Coviello, James McQuality, Jennifer Nelson, and George Starner, all current members, were named full-time members, while William Osborne was named an alternate.

Coviello is running for mayor, while Nelson is running for the District 4 city council seat. If they win, there will need to be a search for their replacements.

The city also has four openings for the Construction Regulation Board, three of which were filled Monday, with Dolores Classon, Paul Prince and Craig Miller all named.

City Council also heard from John Pearson, utilities director, and Jeff Dykstra, a consultant for Stantec, regarding the city’s utilities rate sufficiency analysis. Pearson said the city, which hasn’t raised water rates since 2012, isn’t expected to have to raise them in the foreseeable future, which is through 2022, as reserves could be used to reduce debt and/or rates in the future.

As compared with other areas, Cape Coral residents pay among the lowest rates for water, wastewater, irrigation and reclaimed water in the region, city officials contend.

Cape Coral and Collier County were the only ones in the survey which used reclaimed water and not irrigation.