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City Council to discuss legislative priorities, including grant applications

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Feb 1, 2023

The city of Cape Coral is looking to get a share of state money for both Hurricane Ian related expenses and infrastructure projects.

To that end, the Cape Coral City Council will discuss grant applications, its proposed 2023 state legislative initiatives and the possible hiring of a second lobbying firm at its regular meeting set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Council discussed the subjects during its retreat last week and expressed its wishes for the city to get as much money from the state as it can for hurricane damage and for the ongoing utilities expansion project.

At the retreat, City Manager Rob Hernandez suggested hiring the additional lobbying firm as he said many larger cities have two or even more to help foster local governmental interests.

One firm under consideration is Ballard Partners, the firm for which former State Representative and former state Department of Economic Opportunity secretary Dane Eagle has gone to work for following his resignation from the DEO last month.

“We need to get our priorities straight and we need to look at other opportunities and be ready for them,” Mayor John Gunter said last week. “We need to be sure we’re a player and not get tunnel vision over a few items.”

Hernandez assured Gunter that the city was not missing out on grants and other funds, that there are some grants the city is not eligible for. He also assured the council hiring more than one firm would not pit the two against the other.

Among the proposed legislative priorities are asking the state to provide fiscal relief to municipalities that experienced revenue loss due to Hurricane Ian, to ensure that Cape Coral and others have the funding to address critical needs.

Others include support for appropriations/ grants for city projects, protection of home rule authority and opposition to unfunded mandates or cost shifts, support for state initiatives that address mitigating and preventing harmful algal blooms and continued funding of state and local affordable housing programs for persons with low and moderate incomes.

Council is also expected to select outside counsel for its litigation against Waste Pro. The hauler is suing the city and wants its contract voided, citing the withholding of more than $800,000 in payments.

Council also will consider adding an additional meeting to its scheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at 4:30 p.m., following its scheduled workshop meeting.

At the Jan. 18 council workshop regarding the North 1 West Utility Expansion Project, the final public hearing was listed to occur in March. In reviewing notice requirements, March 22, 2023 has been identified for placement of the Resolution.

Before Wednesday’s regular meeting, City Council will hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. in Conference Room 22A at City Hall.

Among the new business that will be taken up is identifying a search firm for a new city attorney and the plan on how to hire the person, as well as the extension of the contract of City Manager Rob Hernandez.

Cape Coral City Hall is at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.