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Special meeting to precede Wednesday’s Council workshop

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jun 8, 2021

Usually, the Cape Coral City Council does not vote on anything during workshop meeting days, as workshops are meant to discuss issues in-depth and to get a general feeling and consensus on where the city should go.

However, there will be an exception this Wednesday at 3 p.m. when Council will hold a special meeting before the workshop, or Committee of the Whole session, to vote on setting aside $1 million in the budget so City Manager Rob Hernandez has the money to combat a blue-green algae bloom should the need arise.

Staff is requesting approval to use $1 million in the Stormwater Restricted Fund Balance, with $750,000 to be designated to purchase bubble curtains and other equipment, and $250,000 for other technologies and chemicals as needed to treat any harmful algal blooms.

The issue was brought up during last week’s city council meeting as the city did not want a repeat of 2018 when algae coagulated at the end of city canals, resulting in reports of those living nearby getting sick from the smell and toxins, and driving the local economy to its knees.

More than 70 canals were affected by the algal blooms, which cost the city more than $1.6 million for remediation efforts, many of which were experimental in nature.

Hernandez is specifically asking Council to waive the procurement process to allow him to purchase the necessary items to combat blue-green algae, since time is of the essence.

At the workshop meeting, Council will receive updates on the city’s health and wellness center, second quarter financials, Waste Pro, and Red, White & BOOM.

Red, White & BOOM, the annual July 4th block party and fireworks extravaganza, which was cancelled due to the pandemic last year. It has been a staple in the city since 1968 and is the largest single-day event hosted by the city.

The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. This year’s entertainment includes Chris Bandi, DJ Sinister and feature act, country musician Carly Pearce, with fireworks following at 9:30 p.m.

There also will be the annual Freedom 5K run sponsored by the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce.

Waste Pro hit a bump in the road with the long weekend, as one driver resigned and the city’s trash collection vendor has not been able to replace that person, leaving 18 new drivers. However, those applicants from a recent job fair should be working soon, with their recruiter scheduling interviews.

Waste Pro’s Bill Jones wrote in a memo that he is confident that Florida’s back-to-work plan will further help recruiting efforts and that the market pay rate adjustments will continue to prove positive.

All three bulk subcontractors remained in place during the holiday week but are being phased out as of June 7; all three unstaffed temporary drop off locations were closed, while the staffed site at City Hall closed June 5; and yard waste routes have generally caught up and are back on schedule.

Also, the queue management module is up and running, leading to reduced hold times, and phone volumes are back within a normal range.

Regarding the wellness center, the city and My Health Onsite entered into an agreement in August 2019 to operate a near-site health facility for eligible employees, retirees and dependents. The facility opened March 16, 2020, with the main objective being to reduce overall healthcare costs.

Based on the current utilization trend of the facility, human resources is recommending approval of an additional staff member, a licensed practical nurse, to help the city maintain the target goal of 85 percent utilization.

Hernandez will also present guidelines for the city’s economic and business development incentive program.

The elected board meets in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 2015 Cultural Park Blvd.