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Council to hold budget workshop Thursday

By Staff | Aug 27, 2019

The job of the Budget Review Committee is done, but the Cape Coral City Council still has some things to iron out regarding the 2020 city budget.

The council will meet one more time for a special workshop on Thursday at 1 p.m. in council chambers, where it will perhaps settle on a millage rate and what the city can and cannot afford this year.

However, a potential problem approaching from the east in the form of a brewing tropical storm could complicate things.

Last week, City Council seemed inclined to move to the rollback rate of 6.4903, down slightly from the 6.55 City Manager John Szerlag has recommended.

The rollback will reduce revenues to the city around $884,000 in FY 2020, as opposed to the 6.55 rate, and homeowners with a $150,000 home will save $9.13, if homesteaded, from the 6.55, and will pay the same as last year.

However, the city also wants $1.5 million to build additional sidewalks and install $500,000 more in streetlights and will need to find money for those. Mayor Joe Coviello said the city is going to search for reserves to help pay for those, as well as hold some money in reserve in case of another hurricane.

“There are things we have on our table we hope we can get in the budget and I think we can,” Coviello said. “We know we’re going to have funds that aren’t in the budget. We’ve been approved for FEMA money and we’ll have good decisions to make. It’s a good problem.”

The city also has some 109 surplus properties it will put up for sale as part of that $12 million land purchase it made in 2012 for 491 parcels, including Seven Islands. That money will pay back stormwater and other fees used to buy the land, with the rest going into city coffers.

What isn’t good is the fact that the city may have another hurricane to worry about in Dorian, which is currently projected to perhaps slam into South Florida on Sunday.

This time, however, Coviello said the city is ready. The $4.5 million set aside for the expanded homestead exemption that failed in November will now be put into a disaster relief fund.

“When Irma hit, we didn’t have nearly that much money, so we’re in good financial shape with that. Let’s hope we don’t get hit,” Coviello said.

City Council will hold its first public hearing on the budget on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 5:05 p.m., at City Hall in council chambers, where the millage and budget will be set at its not-to-exceed rate. A second hearing on Sept. 19, at 5:05 p.m., will officially ratify the budget.