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Cape Council to crunch the numbers; Pandemic affects city’s sources of tax revenue

By Staff | Apr 23, 2020

With certain tax funds taking a hit due to the pandemic, the city of Cape Coral will take another look at its revenue streams on Monday.

City Manager John Szerlag has been working on a tool to project revenues and expenditures, with an emphasis on the General Fund. Each category is color coded (green, yellow and red) to identify problem areas in the budget.

So far, the General Fund, which pays for city operations, is green.

However property, communication, sales and electric services tax revenues are yellow, meaning there is a potential for a shortfall for which the budget may have to be adjusted.

The local half-cent sales tax revenue line is red, meaning there is a shortfall and a budget adjustment will be required there.

The city looks to bring in only 92.3 percent of its ad valorem, or perty tax, revenue for FY2020 on time, bringing cause for concern.

“We have solid reserves for three months, so we’re in good shape financially. But you have to plan for the future, and the fact of the matter is there could be a loss in revenue,” said Mayor Joe Coviello, who has brought the discussion forward.

Coviello said the city will have to find “efficiencies” to see that the public safety sector is maintained. Whether that will mean layoffs or other staff cutbacks elsewhere will need to be discussed.

“We need to look at areas where we can be more efficient and offset those losses,” Coviello said. “We want to get a feel where there will be a loss of revenue and what it will look like.”

In other business, Council is expected vote on a resolution to approve the extension of the eastbound left turn lane on Cape Coral Parkway to turn north onto Del Prado Boulevard and eliminate access westbound on Cape Coral Parkway to turn left onto Cape Coral Street.

Congestion issues have been found on Cape Coral Parkway going eastbound as drivers merge onto the Cape Coral Bridge, especially during peak hours.

The turn lane going north onto Del Prado Boulevard currently can accommodate approximately nine cars, forcing any additional cars in line to turn left to wait in a lane on Cape Coral Parkway, thus backing up traffic further.

Szerlag recommends the extension of the eastbound left turn lane to accommodate approximately 12 additional cars, reducing the number of cars having to sit in a travel lane on Cape Coral Parkway.

The left turn at Cape Coral Street also would be closed to traffic on Cape Coral Parkway westbound.

The project is expected to cost about $200,000, to be funded with gas tax revenue. Staff will begin design and invite companies to bid on construction. No timeline was given for completion.

Coviello said it could be another project that may have to wait with the expected loss in gas tax revenue because nobody is driving.

“We’ll see what the appetite is for that with the expected loss in revenue in the gas tax. I believe the project would help because with cars stacked to get onto Del Prado, it closes off that one lane.”

The city also will introduce an ordinance to authorize the appropriation of $150,000 in disaster reserve funds for the purchase of supplies related to COVID-19. A public hearing will be held on May 11.

Also, Council plans to fill one of its three vacancies on the Construction Regulation Board. It has an application from Matt Sinclair.

Cape Coral City Council meets at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.