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City Council, staff to hold two-day planning retreat

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jan 25, 2023

Throughout the time Cape Coral City Manager Rob Hernandez has been in his position, he has held annual retreats in January as a way to kick off the budget season and to discuss other issues the city faces in a less formal setting.

On Thursday and Friday, at the Nicholas Parkway Annex Conference Room at 815 Nicholas Parkway, Room A200, at 9 a.m., the Cape Coral City Council, along with staff, will meet once again to do just that.

Councilmember Tom Hayden said these retreats, which started in 2020, have been invaluable in helping the city get the new year off on the right track by giving council the direction it needs on key projects and the budget.

“They help define our scope over the next year and the staff a deeper look at what we’re thinking on the budget and the millage rate,” Hayden said. “It helps plan the future of the city for the next 12 months.

Maureen Buice, assistant to the city manager, said the retreats allow for more in-depth discussion in a public setting.

“The retreats are similar to a workshop or Committee of the Whole meeting. However, these meetings don’t take place in the Council Chambers,” Buice said. “Staff intends to get strategic consensus on a variety of topics that have long-range implications.”

Thursday, council will discuss major projects and initiatives the city has going on. After lunch, council will have a discussion on the Cape Coral Yacht Club, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian, structurally challenged before that and had been slated for a major renovation that would have closed the historical landmark down for at least two years.

“It’s an opportunity to see what a new Yacht Club could look like. It’s almost like we can start with a clean slate and build something that will not only mean a lot,” Hayden said. “Not only to local residents but make it more of a destination place for tourists and visitors.”

“We expect a lengthy discussion due to the significant damage caused by Hurricane Ian. The damage to the Yacht Club building alone has exceeded the National Flood Insurance Program’s 50 percent rule and will require the structure to meet the current flood elevation and Florida Building Code,” Buice said.

On Friday, council will get to work on the budget process, with all the city departments getting together and sharing items they would like included in the FY2024. That budget needs to be ratified by Oct. 1.

“Finance will provide a budget recap for FY 22 and will discuss FY 24 with council, provide a budget preview and staff hopes to receive direction from council on their budget priorities for FY 24,” Buice said.

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