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Over $4M in total damages expected from Irma

By Staff | Jan 17, 2018

Sanibel Vice Mayor Mick Denham, left, presented a certificate of achievement to Police Chief William Dalton at the city council’s Jan. 8 meeting. Dalton recently completed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chief Executive Seminar. TIFFANY REPECKI

The city of Sanibel is estimating the total damages from Hurricane Irma to top $4 million.

At the Sanibel City Council’s meeting on Jan. 8, City Manager Judie Zimomra reported that county staff is working on the final tally for the storm that rolled north through Florida in September.

“We are doing the final crunching of the hurricane number,” she said.

Staff is projecting a total cost of over $4.1 million for the city, with a maximum reimbursement opportunity of about $3.5 million. Zimomra noted that some things are not reimbursable, including a smashed fence at the recycling center and flag pole at Lindgren Boulevard and Periwinkle Way.

“Too low to even be covered by the deductible or our insurance,” she said.

Zimomra explained that some “small projects” can be grouped together.

“But there’s some that just don’t meet FEMA nor the insurance level,” she said, adding that the city’s expenses in preparing for the storm are also not covered.

Zimomra, however, pointed to the maximum reimbursement figure.

“That’s actually a very good percentage if we can get the $3.5 million,” she said.

Zimomra added that it typically takes “several years” to receive the reimbursement funds.

“So, we’re working with the financial department to come up with the final number,” she said. “We know it’s going to be north of $4.1 (million) but obviously lower than $4.5 (million), so we’re in that ballpark.”

Vice Mayor Mick Denham noted that it took about five years for Hurricane Charley recovery.

“It’s going to be several years before we get our money back,” he said.

At the meeting, the council appointed three members to the Sanibel Planning Commission.

Dr. Phillip Marks, chair of the commission, was reappointed to another full term, which expires in January 2021. Richard Johnson was appointed to a full term, with an expatriation date of January 2021, and Roger Grogman was appointed to a partial term, which is scheduled to expire in January 2019.

The city council also heard the first reading of a draft ordinance pertaining to alcohol sales at performing arts centers and live performance theaters. Ordinance 18-001 would exempt the eligible facilities from the written requirement that they must sell food in order to sell alcohol on site.

Mike DeWerff, vice chair for the planning commission, explained that the proposal was brought forward by BIG ARTS. BIG ARTS has received approval for a liquor license under state law.

“But, we have to have local community law to allow such a thing to take place,” he said.

BIG ARTS applied to amend the code, believing that the change would help to increase revenue and improve the quality of drinks served. DeWerff noted that BIG ARTS provides drinks now for free.

“Our thought was, ‘If we were going to expand this, then maybe it should be expanded beyond just BIG ARTS,'” he said.

The proposal requires a second reading before the council can vote on it.

In addition, discussion and approval of the city council’s proposed goals for 2018 was moved to the February meeting. The council also voted unanimously to prepare a resolution opposing SB 1400.

The language of the Florida Senate bill reads as:

Vacation Rentals; Designating the “Florida Vacation Rental Act”; preempting regulation and control of vacation rentals to the state; specifying authority of the Division of Hotels and Restaurants over regulation of vacation rentals; requiring vacation rentals to obtain a license; specifying that vacation rentals are to be treated as transient rentals regarding certain tax and landlord and tenant provisions; requiring the division to inspect vacation rentals when necessary to respond to emergencies and epidemiological conditions, etc.