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CCP approves budget for 2019-2020 fiscal year

By Staff | Dec 14, 2018

ART – CCP MEETING 1 TIFFANY REPECKI Rae Ann Wessel, natural resource policy director for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, conducted a presentation on water quality and related issues at the Captiva Community Panel's meeting on Dec. 11.

The Captiva Community Panel approved its proposed budget for the new fiscal year, with a few adjustments, as well as received updates on some ongoing projects at its recent meeting.

On Dec. 11, the panel was presented with the tentative budget for 2019-2020 by Administrator Ken Gooderham. The breakdown consisted of an estimated $70,000 in revenue and $66,778 in expenses or operations, with a net income of about $3,222, according to documents provided to panel members.

Revenues were broken down into $35,000 from fundraising events and $30,000 from solicited donations, as well as $5,000 from a possible CFI grant. For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the revenues consisted of $49,150 from fundraising events, $35,014 in donations and $5,000 from the grant.

The CCP also received a $6,000 reimbursement from Lee County last year as funds provided to community planning groups. The new year’s budget does not include the line item as the Lee County Comprehensive Plan is being updated, of which one goal was to remove funding for such groups.

In terms of operating expenses, most of the line items are about what they were for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. One noticeable difference was $20,000 for wastewater research, which will entail gathering additional data to supplement the TKW study and help the island in making an informed decision.

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Community Panel Secretary Mike Mullins was re-elected at the Dec. 11 meeting.

Panel Member Jay Brown, chair of the Wastewater Committee, explained that the costs to obtain the additional data is unknown and the $20,000 was simply to ensure the project was “on the books.”

Prior to voting on the budget, the panel discussed the proposed allocations for planning and legal services. Several members raised concerns that the figures were too low, as well as the total revenue projected. In 2018-2019, $60,000 in revenue was budgeted for, but $95,164 was the final number.

The panel voted unanimously to approve the budget, while also raising the projected revenue from $70,000 to $80,000 and increasing the planning and legal services from $5,000 to $10,000 each.

WASTEWATER UPDATE

Brown reported that TKW will hold its presentation on the Captiva Island Wastewater Alternative Study on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Captiva Civic Center, at 11550 Chapin Lane, for the community. Doug Eckmann, with TKW Consulting Engineers, will review the study with the crowd and its findings.

Brown plans to talk about the committee’s efforts to-date and additional research planned.

He explained to the panel that he will make the point that the study is an important component for islanders in deciding how to proceed – if at all – on the wastewater issue, but that it is not definitive.

“(It’s) not all the information that the public needs,” Brown said of the study.

There will be a question-and-answer session, as well as a review of the next steps.

As far as gathering additional data to supplement the TKW study, he reported that a cost-benefit analysis needs to be conducted so the island has as much information as possible to make a decision.

Some areas for research include how the costs of implementing a central sewer system – if island property owners chose to do so in the end – were broken down, environmental benefits versus risks of septic systems compared to a central sewer system, and the impact of the rising sea level on septics.

Brown came up with a study and is waiting to hear from consultants who may conduct it.

“I just hope I can get this consulting study off the ground and start developing some of this additional information soon,” he said. “So this is still a work on progress.”

WATER QUALITY

Rae Ann Wessel, natural resource policy director for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, attended the panel meeting and conducted a presentation on water quality, like red tide. She went over the background on the ongoing event from October 2017, what occurred over the summer and such.

Wessel reported on the over 200 manatee deaths, along with sea turtles and others, plus the more than 2,200 tons of dead marine life removed by the county – with about 425 of it coming from Sanibel.

She noted that the longest red tide event was observed after Hurricane Charley.

“It lasted for about 18 months, I believe,” Wessel said.

She pointed out that no state agency is testing the water, air and sand for cyanobacteria.

“All three must be tested,” Wessel said. “These are stable toxins that will remain even after the (red tide) blooms disappear.”

The presentation gave an update on the EAA reservoir, including a last-minute move by the South Florida Water Management District’s board to add to the agenda 12 hours before its meeting a proposal to extend the lease on the needed land to Florida Crystals until 2027. It was set to expire in March.

She noted that the unanimous vote for approval has been challenged and a lawsuit initiated.

Wessel covered the estimated timeline for the reservoir, including three years of design and permitting, followed by five years of construction. She noted that local pressure could push up the finish date.

“This is a big infrastructure project,” Wessel said.

She reported that the SFWMD was considering a deep well injection pilot program.

“That is very ill advised,” Wessel said.

On Dec. 13, the SFWMD board voted in favor of drilling a test well for the pilot project, sending excess Lake Okeechobee water underground rather than to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee.

She also covered legislative policies and issues, explaining that the SCCF is coordinating with area Realtors, chambers of commerce and others in preparation for the current and upcoming session. Those interested in getting involved were directed to the website and advised to sign up for the newsletter.

Following Wessel’s presentation, Mintz asked attendees if they would be interested in a full-blown presentation for Captiva on water quality. With a responding yes, he said the panel would work on it.

LEE COUNTY FUNDS

President David Mintz reported that the Lee County Board of County Commissioners had on its December meeting agenda a proposed resolution to delete the administrative procedures and criteria whereby community planning efforts by community planning panels would be eligible for grants.

According to the meeting documents, county staff explained that the procedures and criteria are no longer necessary because grants are no longer being provided to community planning panels.

Days before the meeting, Mintz met with Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais and Lee County Department of Community Development Director David Loveland to discuss the panel’s request for $35,000 to continue updating the Captiva Code. The resolution was later pulled from the agenda.

“They took that off,” he said. “We’re going to have continuing discussions with them.”

Mintz added that he was told there is no money in the budget for the request.

“But the county does not want us to stop our Plan and Code update procedure,” he said.

CAPTIVA DRIVE

Mintz explained that he and Gooderham met with officials from the Lee County Department of Transportation on Dec. 11 to talk about the S-curve improvement on Captiva Drive. They were told the next step is engineering or designing the road. Once that is complete, the DOT will construct it.

“The ball is in our court in terms of designing it,” he said.

Mintz noted that they learned they could go with one firm or Morris-Depew Associates.

He reported that they will gather bids from both for the engineering work.

“We’re going to talk to the county about funding the design development of this, along with the construction,” Mintz said.

IN OTHER NEWS

– Secretary Mike Mullins was re-elected unanimously for another term.

– It was announced that Panel Member Mike Lanigan will head up the group’s new Hurricane Communications Committee. He has left the Development Committee in order to do so.

– Mintz will propose creating a Sea Level Rise Committee at the January meeting.

The next meeting will be held on Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. at South Seas Island Resort.