Election 2017 Question of the Week: Utility Expansion Project
Each week through the General Election, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. As you review the races, please note that Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections. This means all registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.
The 14th Question of the Week is: The city of Cape Coral is continuing its expansion of utilities into the north Cape. What are your views of the expansion and what, if anything, would you change about the Utility Expansion Project project and/ or its related assessments?
– Joe Coviello: The UEP needs to continue moving forward. Properties connected to a centralized water and sewer system will have an increased value over those with wells and septic systems. The City must continue to modernize and develop the proper infrastructure to support expansion and attract business and residential investment. This will improve the quality of life for all Cape Coral citizens. However, we need to take into consideration an effective payment plan option for residents impacted by the UEP. I am in support of the payment deferral program being offered by the city due to the impact of Hurricane Irma.
* * *
– Michael D. Hollow: The UEP is crucial to Cape Coral. We clearly can’t have a septic, well and swale system. The expense sustained by our residents has grown for this current project, compared to previous projects. What’s even more concerning is as this project moves further north, we have owners who may own acreage or additional joining lots. We need to adjust the methodology of the assessment. We will residents that have a larger assessment than the lot is worth.
– John Gunter: I feel our city needs to continue with the Utility Expansion Projects in north Cape Coral. This expansion project will only help with the economic development for this area. Additionally, we must be aware of the economic burden we are placing on our property owners in this area. I feel we could establish a better assessment payment plan, with additional time frames established for repayment. Also we need to ensure that we are charging our property owners the actual interest rate incurred on the monies that is borrowed for this project.These projects our essential for the growth of our city, but we must always keep in mind the financial impacts that burden our citizens.
* * *
– Graham Madison Morris: My overall observation of the UEP, from my years of following its progress in this city, is that it is an unfortunate and expensive challenge for Cape Coral. While I will place emphasis on density being met to pursue utilities expansion, it’s a regrettably necessary evil (cost-wise) for the future of infrastructure city-wide. To any one that will be facing it, you have my word I will work into the wee hours of the morning when it bears down on us to find every way I can to fairly shave off every red cent of these costs to citizens, install a highly reasonable hardship program, and make certain that construction crews who do the work are competent and respectful.
– Richard Leon (Incumbent): Thanks to the due diligence of previous councils we have been able to continue moving forward with the Utility Expansion Projects. We have as a city pushed to find lower costs to the project by looking for and applying for grants, state funding as well as looking deep into the contracts of the vendors making sure everyone is building this project to the best of their ability at a rate that is affordable to our neighbors. What is exciting is the possibilities of the future of the areas being improved. Historically we have seen new home expansion increase in newly finished areas for the UEP but this time we will have a large part of the area available to commercial growth. This should be able to help with the ever increasing demand for diversity in our community as well as job growth and lower taxes.
* * *
– Jennifer I. Nelson: No response received by press time.
– James Schneider: The UEP expansion is needed to enhance and increase the property values. As a Realtor, many times purchasers request homes with public utilities only. As we increase further north, we need to landscape and irrigate corners and medians to bring a standard through the city. It frustrates me when people say they never knew the costs were coming. Education for Realtors and prospective buyers needed, so less frustration and surprise. We need to see the UEP as for what it is, an improvement. Why are so many homeowners surprised to learn they have fees? Is a separate, required contract disclosure needed for homeowners to prepare?
* * *
– Dave Stokes: Number one if elected I would continue to consistently try to lower the price of the expansion of the utilities project. Number two I would continue to try to secure Federal and State grants to help with the costs of utilities expansion. Number three while the Burnt Store Road widening is taking place and the ground is already disturbed, I would look into expanding utilities up Burnt Store Road to support future business expansion along Burnt Store Road.
– John Karcher: Cost for a standard parcel is approximately $19,382. Financed on your tax bill over 20 years, you will pay about $32,338.
Sewers are state mandated as an area is built out
UEP 2 was planned to be done in August of 2019.
UEP sections 3-8 are yet to come.
The city said that assessments have always been due before the project is completed. If paid upfront there is an approximately $1,350 discount, and then you wait 2 years for the services. The city should offer a low rate bond option for the residents to make 24 monthly payments as the project progresses.
* * *
– Rick Williams (Incumbent): Continued city utilities installations are essential to meet Cape Coral’s rapid residential and commercial growth. We know our commercial tax base is lacking. While we have land available for businesses up North, commercial land without utilities is not even a viable option. At full residential buildout, septic systems would be an environmental disaster. Our city’s future depends on us getting utilities installed as fast as possible.
We recognize the investment cost of centralized water and sewer utilities is painful to many property owners, and we are striving to keep assessments as low as possible. We are also offering discounts for lump sum payments and low cost, long-term financing rates to those who need to borrow money. Our future depends on this initiative.
– GENERAL, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
* Voter Registration Book Closed, Oct. 10
* Early Voting (General Election), Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1-4
– Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3
– Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace
– Voter registration:
Applications are available online at www.leeelections.com, at all Lee County libraries, and other locations including Cape Coral City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce at 2051 Cape Coral Parkway, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and all Lee County Supervisor of Elections offices including the one in the Cape at 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3 A full list is available at www.leeelections.com.