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Election 2022: Candidate Question of the Week – Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption

By Staff | Sep 2, 2022

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. This week’s Question of the Week is:

Are you a Yes or a No on the city of Cape Coral’s “Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption” referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot? Reasoning

behind your position?

The 2022 municipal election for Cape Coral City Council features four races — the seats for mayor and Districts 1, 4 and 6. While candidates must live in the district they seek to represent, Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide races, meaning every registered Cape voter, no matter their party affiliation or city address, may cast a ballot in every race.

Here are this week’s responses:


• John Gunter, incumbent

I do agree with giving the voters an opportunity to decide if this is a program we should offer in the City of Cape Coral. Many cities throughout the state have this same incentive as an option when attempting to bring a business to their city. Historically, if you look back in time on our commercial economic development incentives here in Cape Coral, they have been very limited. Our approach over the last 20 years has been mainly the same with basically very little results. If you want a change in results, you must make a change in your approach. If we expand our incentive opportunities, we may be able to bring the types of businesses here to Cape Coral with higher paying jobs. In business, sometimes you must invest in yourself to have a better future. This type of approach will also work in local government and I would support this program for the right company to come to Cape Coral.

Website: votejohngunter.com

• Tom Shadrach

No. It is typical of a poorly managed city to throw money at a problem. It rarely works and tax dollars are wasted. Promote development by lowering taxes for everyone. Make it easier for businesses to start or relocate to Cape Coral. Start with fixing our permitting system and our bad-for-business reputation. Give the new and reenergized Economic Development and Communications Offices a chance, and the resources to do their job without raising taxes, which is what this exemption will do. The Cape Competes Board should suggest reducing regulations and guide our Economic Development and Communications teams to improve our story. With these changes, we will reach the new industries and businesses we want to attract. As our population booms and we enhance our marketing strategy, so will our business numbers. This will keep tax dollars where they are needed; more police and fire, and speed up infrastructure for water, sewer, and roads.

Website: shadrachformayor.com


• Dr. Carol Rae Culliton

The Economic Development Office needs a tool such as the Ad Valorem Tax Exemption. This would allow Cape Coral to compete with neighboring cities for companies such as Hertz and Amazon. Companies that would make a major investment and create an abundant amount of good paying opportunities. The ordinance has several built in controls and restrictions to limit its use. It also has a ten year expiration date that calls for its review. However, as it is written, it appears to benefit developers of apartment buildings and rental properties. The Economic Development Office should be geared to attracting light/medium manufacturing and corporations. This will be the needed tax base that will make the home owner not the only tax base in the city. In its present form, I am a “no” vote.

Website: CullitonforCapeCoral.com

• Bill Steinke

Yes, I am in support of it. It has been long said that we need more significant business in our City and this is a great incentive for companies to relocate here and/or existing businesses to expand. A review of the criteria to qualify for the exemption quickly illustrates the types of businesses we would be bringing that would positively effect our economy and have the potential to ease the tax burden on our residents over time. The Florida State Constitution provides for it. A great explanation of the program can be found at: https://capecoral.novusagenda.com/AgendaPublic/AttachmentViewer.ashx?AttachmentID=23007&ItemID=21518. Employees created by these companies (or brought with) will have significant incomes that also add to the economy of our City and bring opportunity to our current residents. As of Aug 20, 2022, the average annual pay for the Private Sector jobs category (required by qualifying companies) in the United States is $84,322 a year, while our most recent Median HOUSEHOLD income was close to $63,000. If we want business growth to bolster our economy and assist with our tax base, this certainly is a way to incent it.

Website: www.BillSteinke.com


• Patty Cummings

Yes, provided it means long-term jobs for our citizens.

Cape Coral is having no problem attracting new residents. It’s because it remains a beautiful, safe, and family-feel city. We need to attract businesses that bring in higher-paying jobs and attracting employers to help our citizens “keep it in the Cape” is in all our best interests. Tax financing highrises, not so much. Our new arrivals want to come here because we are a great family friendly place to live.

Website: www.votepattycummings.com

• Jennifer I. Nelson, incumbent

I support the Economic Ad Valorem Tax Exemption. As a pre-platted community, increasing commercial tax base to diversify our tax revenue is challenging but important. Anything our city can do to entice businesses to come here is a plus. We need to consider more incentives that not only bring new businesses to our city but also, help the long-standing businesses who make improvements that create more jobs and bring more residents and visitors through their doors.

Website: jenn4capecoral.com


• Wayne Hecht

The referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot is an economic development incentive that the City Manager believes will facilitate growth and the creation of business in the city. While I agree that having the exemption can be a useful tool we can use to lure more businesses to the city, I believe that there is still more we can do before we have to resort to tax incentives.

We can first make it easier for businesses to open here and most importantly fix the issue with permitting.

Although, with that being said, the core tenet of my candidacy is to listen to the citizens and with this referendum the citizens will be able to have their voices heard.

Website: waynehecht.com

• Keith Long, incumbent

I am a supporter of the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption referendum. This exemption will be an economic incentive tool for the City that will allow it to grant exemptions to developers of specific projects that will facilitate growth and the creation of business enterprises and jobs in Cape Coral, which is a significant need. Businesses may only qualify by bringing enterprise that will create new jobs that meet minimum criteria such as creating at least 10 new full-time jobs with a minimum average annual wage of at least 100% of the average annual private sector wage, among other things. This tool will be a tremendous help in creating new employment and investment into the City, allowing more of our residents to stay on this side of the bridge when they go to work in the morning.

Website: https://www.votekeithlong.com