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Updated: Final city budget hearing rescheduled to Sept. 29

Council will convene as scheduled on Sept. 23 but will continue meeting to next Wednesday

By Staff | Sep 21, 2021

Pexels image/Karolina Gradowska

Update:

Due to an error in the legal notification, the City of Cape Coral has rescheduled it second and final budget hearing to Wednesday, Sept. 29.

It will be held at at 5:05 p.m. at City Hall.

Meanwhile, the hearing that had been scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 23, will convene and public input time is scheduled. The meeting then will be continued to Sept. 29 for the final formal session and a vote.

Original post:

The Cape Coral City Council will hold the final public hearing on the city’s 2022 budget Thursday at 5:05 p.m. at City Hall.

Council is expected to vote to lower the property tax rate slightly from 6.375 mills to 6.25 and approve the budget, which is set at $978,464,119 overall, with a $296,590,898 General Fund budget.

Also at Thursday’s first budget hearing, Council tweaked the Parks GO Bond rate from the recommended 0.1416 mills to 0.075 after the city collected more than what was needed for the debt service on the voter-approved $60 million bond.

One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable property valuation.

The difference, in terms of property tax revenue between the millage rates of 6.375 and 6.25 mills, is $2.2 million for the General, or operating, fund, however the city would still receive approximately $8.7 million more in property tax revenue over last year due to a citywide increase in property valuation.

That wasn’t enough for Councilmember Tom Hayden, who voted against the 6.25 millage rate and is prepared to vote against it Thursday, preferring the current rate.

“I felt there were things that needed to be done now rather than putting it off. Once we set the millage, we have to work with that number,” Hayden said. “It could present problems with funding things in the future. I’m not looking at tomorrow. I’m looking two or three years down the road.”

Councilmember Gloria Tate also preferred leaving the rate at 6.375 mills, but voted in favor of 6.25, a compromise between the current rate and the rollback rate, or the rate which takes increased valuation into full account.

“We tasked the management to come back with a compromise to include the fire department additions to keep their standards high and I felt I could support that budget,” Tate said. “We have a lot of needs and to keep up with our growth we have to make sure we have public safety paramount, not just for those who visit but for those who live here.”

Staff addressed the proposed hiring of personnel to address the $2.2 million-plus difference. New position hirings will be staggered throughout the year instead of all at once when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The city will hire the six new firefighters, add a fire lieutenant, and two custodians in the fourth quarter of the year, as well as hire a fire quartermaster and logistics specialist in the third quarter.

The 15 new police officers, senior accounting assistant and an arborist would be eligible for hiring on Dec. 1, or for 10 months of the fiscal year.

More than half the $2.2 million difference would go toward postponing the construction at Jaycee Park, while leaving in the design costs.

The hearing is open to the public. City Hall is at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.

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