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Cape Council thanks city’s first responders

By Staff | Sep 20, 2017

Cape Coral City Council got an update post Hurricane Irma Monday.

First responders and emergency personnel who helped the city get through the storm were praised heavily by Mayor Marni Sawicki and those who spoke in public comment.

However, not everything was perfect. One person commented that there was just one shelter in the entire city, Island Coast High School, while everyone else had to go east to find one, where the brunt of the storm hit.

Fire Chief Donald Cochran said there was a good reason for that one shelter. It was the only one that could have handled the expected storm surge without the risk of flooding.

“If we got a 15-foot storm surge, all the other shelters would have been flooded. If the storm was on the East Coast, Mariner High School would have been a host shelter for those on the east coast,” Cochran said, adding that for the city to build another one near Island Coast, it would need to hold 6,000 to 7,000 people and cost about $30 million.

Irma also created headaches regarding the scheduling of the turning in of tax rolls, employee paid time off and the election, among other things.

The budget, which typically needs to be finished by Oct. 1, will need to be pushed back a day, since the first scheduled hearing on the budget set for Sept. 11 was washed away by Irma.

The first hearing, where council will set the “Not-to-Exceed” millage rate, will now take place on Sept. 25 at 5:05 p.m., which was when the second hearing was supposed to be. The final hearing will happen on Monday, Oct. 2, at 5:05 p.m.

At the Sept. 25 meeting, a resolution will be brought forth to extend the pre-payment deadline for the North 2 Utilities Expansion Project from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31 for those who want to pay the entire amount in advance without interest and at a 20 percent discount.

The primary election, which was set for Sept. 12, was officially moved to Oct. 3, with early voting dates from Thursday, Sept. 28 to Saturday, Sept. 30. The general election date remains unchanged. Early voting locations will be the Lee County Elections Office at 1031 SE 9th Place, No. 3, and the Cape Coral Library at 921 SW 39th Place.

As for emergency personnel, city council also unanimously agreed to extend the date for required leave use to Oct. 31, a date most felt wasn’t enough time.

City Manager John Szerlag said he would have wanted the date extended to the end of the year, as employees have a “use them or lose them” system regarding paid time off. He said that would require an ordinance change.