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CEPD commission approves not-to-exceed millage rate, resolutions on renourishment

By Staff | Jun 15, 2018

Damon Grant

The Captiva Erosion Prevention District adopted three resolutions – two tied to the island’s future beach renourishment project – and approved its not-to-exceed millage rate for next fiscal year.

At its June 13 meeting, the commission voted 4-0 to approve a rate cap of 0.2984 – an increase over last year’s set millage rate of 0.2720. Millage rates can be lowered prior to approval, but not raised. The district must hold two public hearings on the rate and proposed 2018-2019 budget before voting on it.

The first hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 13, with the final one scheduled for Sept. 27.

Administrator Damon Grant reported that the Lee County Property Appraiser has estimated the total assessed value of non-exempt property as $1.45 billion. Only an approximation of the taxable value on the 2018 Tax Roll, it will issue the final numbers for budget preparations and millage rates by July 1.

Last year’s rate of 0.2720 brought in $362,826 in revenue. The rolled-back rate – the rate needed to bring in the same amount of tax revenue collected during the previous fiscal year – is 0.2632.

“To collect the same amount, we will need a 0.2632 millage rate,” he said.

Grant noted that the rolled-back rate is lower than last year’s approved millage rate.

“The reason it went lower is our property values increased,” he said.

Grant presented three scenarios to the commission. One showed the anticipated general operating budget based on approving the rolled-back rate as the rate, resulting in 17 percent in reserves.

“We have a 17 percent reserves’ number based on this scenario,” he said. “I think we’d like to keep it at around 20 percent.”

The 0.2984 rate would be required to raise reserves to 20 percent, as outlined by another scenario.

However, Grant pointed to the line item consulting and professional fees for Hans Wilson and Associates. He explained that the costs to the CEPD are split two-thirds in the operating budget and one-third in the capital budget. Grant suggested evenly splitting the costs between the budgets.

He said it would enable them to keep the rolled-back rate and raise reserves to 32 percent.

Grant also noted for the commission that the CEPD would have additional expenses in terms of advertising and such with the upcoming beach renourishment project, and that the Lee County Tourist Development Council had not yet approved funding for the CEPD as of the date of the meeting.

Vice Chair Mike Mullins motioned to set the not-to-exceed rate at 0.2984.

“We can always lower it,” he said. “We can’t go higher.”

The commission voted in support of the motion; Commissioner Michael Lanigan had to leave the meeting early and was unable to cast a vote.

Also at the meeting, three resolutions were approved unanimously 5-0.

Resolution 2018-04 supported activities outlined in the local government funding request to the Florida Department Environmental Protection and affirmed the district’s commitment to provide local funding.

Grant explained that it confirms the CEPD’s commitment to the state and paying its funding portion.

“In essence, this is something we’ve done year after year,” he said. “This is just some housekeeping.”

Resolution 2018-03 established a referendum to decide if a majority of voters are in favor of the district’s proposal to issue bonds to finance a portion of the cost of the beach renourishment, erosion control and coastal protection project, and provided an effective date for the referendum election.

“This is the board’s acceptance that we will be moving forward,” Grant said of the project.

The special election will be held on March 5, with the bonds not to exceed $15 million.

“It only plays a part if we elect to pursue a bond on the next assessments,” he said.

The referendum for the last project eight years ago received nearly an 80 percent approval.

Tied into Resolution 2018-04, Resolution 2018-05 allowed for and ordered the construction of the erosion prevention project, such as maintenance renourishment and placement of fill on-island.

SUMMER RECREATIONAL SURVEY

Dr. William Stronge, who presented at the meeting the results of the Recreational Use of Captiva’s Beaches and Economic Impact study from February and March, recommended a second study.

“We can’t just look at the winter,” he said.

Stronge noted that a summer study was conducted in 2010, adding that the noticeable changes in the results of the 2018 and 2010 winter studies suggest that a summer study for 2018 should be done.

“We really need to do a small-scare survey in the summer to have some grounds,” he said.

Stronge recommended a survey half the size of the winter one, or 200 people.

“Just to give us some basics, some numbers,” he said.

Stronge added that if the CEPD is challenged, it can produce year-round figures and facts.

Chairman Dave Jensen made a motion to approve the study at a cost of $9,000.

“I think the key thing that Bill said was, ‘in case we’re challenged,'” he said.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve.

ASSISTANT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR RECRUITMENT

Hans Wilson, president of the consulting firm Hans Wilson and Associates, provided an update on the recruitment for a CEPD assistant to the administrator to replace John Bralove, who plans to retire.

“We are having a difficult time getting anybody to respond,” he said.

Wilson noted that the position is part-time and includes a daily commute to Captiva.

“It’s been difficult to find people to fit the position,” he said.

Wilson added that there have been interviews.

“In part, it’s because the economy is really good right now,” he said.

Lanigan questioned where the firm has been advertising and suggested looking at colleges.

“We’ve advertised in all the local papers,” Hans said, noting that the position does not warrant a nationwide search. “The information is out there – the advertisements are out there.”

Treasurer Bob Walter, also the regional managing director for South Seas Island Resort, explained that the resort spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on incentives to draw employees out to the island.

Jensen, co-owner of Jensen’s Twin Palm Cottages, echoed that.

“I’ve been in business for awhile,” he said. “We can’t get help, period.”

Hans recommended advertising the position as full-time.

The discussion was paused and moved to the end of the meeting to tackle higher priority agenda items before Lanigan had to leave. When the commission picked it back up, it asked for Bralove’s opinion.

“I, personally, believe that starting soon it requires a full-time person,” he said.

Grant added that the CEPD is taking on – and planning to take on – additional duties and responsibilities, which have to be covered, plus all the the public relations for the beach project.

“We haven’t really ramped up, in my opinion, for what we’re talking about in getting involved in,” he said.

Mullins made a motion to advertise the position as full-time.

The commission approved the motion in a 4-0 vote.

IN OTHER NEWS

– Grant reported that a review of the 1988 easements revealed about 5 percent of the documents had additional writing and notations on them, with the majority “cosmetic” and not altering language.

However, they were forward to the district’s attorney for review and feedback.

– Grant reported that the CEPD will be filing an extension for using its Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement of about $1.139 million from Hurricane Irma. He explained that there is an 18-month deadline on using the monies, which started with the date of the storm.

“So we’re going to ask for an extension,” Grant said.

“The last thing we want to do is lose this FEMA money that’s been give to us,” he said, adding that the probability of that happening is very unlikely. “They just want to see that we’re making progress.”

– Bralove reported that some commissioners had requested tablets to do CEPD work.

He noted that there is $3,000 available in the budget to cover them.

Walter and Jensen stated that they did not want or need one.

Mullins noted that he wanted one to keep CEPD business off of his personal computer.

Damon instructed those who wanted one to see staff and they would take care of it.

– A $500 budget was approved for some type of recognition for former Administrator Kathy Rooker. The commission and staff discussed that she did not seem to want a plaque or the traditional lunch.

Grant was tasked with coming up with something.

– The commission moved the Aug. 8 regular meeting to Aug. 15.

In addition, Grant pointed out that the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association conference will be held on Sept. 19-21 in Clearwater Beach and the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association conference will be held on Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 on Galveston Island.

“I’m planning on attending and whatever commissioners are welcome to come,” he said.