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From the Breeze archives: Breeze editorial, Fear

By Staff | Sep 18, 2020

(Published in the Cape Coral Breeze Aug. 13, 1970)

Next Tuesday will be the most important day in Cape Coral’s brief history. On that day, the citizens of this rapidly growing community will decide whether we are to remain as just another development in Lee County, or assume the role of a city, in fact as well as in name.

The move towards incorporation has been opposed by a portion of our population, with the primary source of opposition coming from one of the strongest of human instincts — FEAR. Fear of increased taxes; fear of the area proposed being too large to manage; fear that we cannot elect honest, capable people to manage the new city; cold, unreasoning fear fed by false information, rumors and misconceptions.

Strangely, those expressing fear of forming their own city government seem to have no fear whatsoever of the prospects of a county charter government being forced upon them by the other voters of Lee County. Possibly they do not know that such a government could add another 10 mills to their taxes, that they would have only a small voice in controlling this government, and that a considerable amount of funds collected by the charter government from Cape Coral would be spent elsewhere in the county.

They have no fear that the lack of proper zoning, the lack of any type of enforcement of our deed of restrictions, and the gradual deterioration of the community under our present county government will reduce their property values by hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Possibly they are not interested in the value of their property, but when the Cape, through continued governmental neglect, becomes a place in which they no longer desire to live, and they attempt to sell, they may decide they have been penny wise, and pound foolish. When a neighbor creates a nuisance which makes their own property untenable and they find the courts the only solution, they may wish for a local government, with strong zoning ordinances.

Let’s analyze some of the strongest FEARS of the opponents. By far and away, the primary fear is taxes.

Some will say “you will pay a tax bill to the city equal to that you pay to the county.” This is completely untrue. Your county tax bill last year was 28.293 mills, which included school millage and special tax districts. A city, by law, can assess no more than 10 mills, very few take the maximum millage, some have no tax millage at all.

“We will have to take over the Yacht and Racquet Club, the Cape Coral Gardens, and buy the GAC Properties building,” say the exponents of fear. Why would the city have to buy these properties, or even want them? Certainly the city would be under no obligation to buy any property from the developers, or from anyone else, unless it was needed by the city.

“We will have to provide service to the large uninhabited area proposed for incorporation,” they say. What services does an uninhabited area require? Actually this area will be contributing tax dollars to the city, and receiving nothing in return until it is inhabited.

“We will have to maintain the streets to the city. The cost will be tremendous,” they warn us. We will maintain only those streets that are accepted from the developers, and they are being maintained now, with your tax dollars, by the county. The only difference will be that the maintenance will be done here, when it is needed, not, we would hope, after the street is so bad that it has knocked your wheels out of alignment.

“The city council will get elected to $1.00 a year jobs, then vote themselves fat salaries.” Anyone who has read the city charter should know that salary increases to council members can be granted only by a vote of the registered voters of the city.

Fear is a good thing. It keeps you from walking in front of a truck, stepping out of a third story window, or wrestling with sharks in the Gulf. It is a basic instinct that has done much to insure survival of the human race. It should be tempered with a little reason.

If you use reasoning power, you will find that you do have much to fear. Fear what will happen to your property values if we do not incorporate. Fear what will happen in Fort Myers, and other areas of Lee County, force a charter government upon us. Fort Myers, by the way, although able to vote on the charter government, would remain an incorporated city, free of the majority of taxes a county charter government could impose.

Fear what will happen if the steps originally suggested are followed — first a county charter, then consolidation of the entire county with the city government of Fort Myers. You would then be a Fort Myers suburb, paying vastly inflated taxes, with little or no say in how those taxes were spent. Again, as an unincorporated area of Lee County, this could be forced upon us.

Above all, fear what will happen if you neighbor votes against incorporation, or fails to vote at all. You have an opportunity to create a model city here at Cape Coral. Your greatest FEAR should be that some, because of misinformation, may let this opportunity pass us by.