5 Things To Know from the Cape Coral City Council Meeting (May 1)

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Cape Coral's City Council held its first regular meeting of May at City Hall Monday evening.

The meeting included discussions on the city's efforts to bring much needed canal water into the city, an apology from the mayor, speed limit reductions on SE 17th Place, and more. 

 

Below are five takeaways from last night’s meeting.

 

Mayor apologizes for walking out of Apr. 24 COW meeting

Mayor Marni Sawicki began Monday's meeting issuing an apology for her behavior at last week's Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting.

"I want to say to council, residents, city manager, staff. I do apologize for what happened in that meeting. I let negativity get in. And, I'm human."

During last week's joint meeting of the City Council and the Municipal Charter School Governing Board, the mayor abruptly walked out after heated exchanges with Charter School Governing Board Vice-President Robert Zivkovic, council members Rana Erbrick and Richard Leon, and a member of the meeting audience.

Council Member Jim Burch thanked the mayor for apologizing, "I think you did the right thing tonight. I think you know you did the wrong thing (last week). We all make mistakes. Believe me, we all make mistakes."

Cape Coral resident Vanessa Metzger also shared her support for the mayor, taking those to task who went to social media over the past week to bash the mayor for her actions, "Enough is enough. The talking behind people's back, the being nasty, the condescending, it's bull crap. Those of you know who it is, and it has got to stop."

However, not all those who got up to speak shared support for the mayor, I wasn’t going to say anything. But, then someone, a couple of gentlemen here said something about the mayor being such an outstanding person, I had to disagree," said Cape Coral resident Jack Mattachione.

Insinuating that the mayor was emotionally unstable, Mattachione brought up previous incidents involving the mayor and called out the mayor by name, "What is it? Sawicki, Retzer?"

At that point, Sawicki's former husband, Ken Retzer, who was in attendance at the meeting, stood up and shouted for Mattachione to stop. Council Member John Carioscia immediately called for a point of order, and when Mattachione attempted to continue and call for the mayor to resign, Sawicki told him his time was up and if he continued he would be removed from the meeting. Mattachione then walked away from the podium.

While the discussions were being held in council chambers, a protest calling for the mayor to resign was being held downstairs.

Organized through social media over the past week, a group of about 25 stood downstairs at city hall holding signs and speaking to the media in an effort to get Sawicki to step down months before her term ends, "The whole gist of this was to make Cape Coral people aware of what’s going on and how important elections are. Get rid of the 16% election turnout we had the last election, and get some people involved, registered to vote, get to know their candidates and hopefully, we don’t have to deal with this four years from now," said protest organizer Jay LaGace.

The mayor recently announced that she would not be seeking a second term, and had no intention of resigning before the end of her current term which ends in November.

 

City Council approves agreement to pump water from Charlotte County reservoir

The city council gave unanimous approval on an agreement for the city to enter into an agreement with owners of a former mining property in Charlotte County to pull water from the property for the city to replenish extremely low levels currently being experienced in Cape Coral canals.

The agreement calls for the city to transfer up to 17 million gallons of water per day from the reservoir for up to the next 90 days.

In return, the city will pay $140,000 to the owners of the property to reimburse them for the equipment necessary to pump the water from the reservoir.

Additionally, the city will purchase the water at a rate of 10 cents per 1,000 gallons using water credits. Those water credits will then be utilized by the property owners to purchase fill dirt owned by the city. The fill dirt is located at the city's Wilmington Parkway fill dirt site and will be sold to the property owners at a rate of $1 per cubic yard.

The city began pumping the water from the reservoir last Friday, and Public Works Director Jeff Pearson heralded the process as a success saying the water coming out of the property is cleaner than storm water run-off during the rainy season and could be used as drinking water in the future.

While the reservoir will provide much-needed relief to local canal levels, city officials say the current one day per week irrigation schedule recently implemented by the city due to lack of water will remain in effect for at least the near future.

 

City Council approves Future Land Use Map changes for nearly 3,000 acres north of Pine Island Rd.

The city council unanimously approved a large-scale change to the city's Future Land Use Map for nearly 3,000 acres of land north of Pine Island Road.

The changes were recommended by city staff to accommodate the upcoming Utilities Expansion Project (UEP) phases that will install city water, sewer, and irrigation in areas north of Pine Island Road.

The changes affect approximately 9,600 properties on 2,900 acres spread from Old Burnt Store Road to Andalusia Parkway and a separate section along Kismet Parkway to the eastern border of the city.

The land use changes call for 2,700 acres or 96% of the area to now be designated Single Family, 93 acres to Multi-Family, and 53 acres to a transition area with no designation.

City staff says the changes are necessary to move forward with the city's UEP North 1 and North 2 phases, which are currently in the beginning processes of being undertaken. Both the city's Planning & Zoning Commission and city's Planning Division are recommending approval for the changes.

 

SE 17th Pl. speed limit reduction approved

Residents along a popular Southeast Cape Coral cut through have long complained that SE 17th Place near the Coralwood Mall has become dangerous due to high traffic speeding along the road as an alternative to traveling Del Prado Boulevard.

Recently, the city installed striping and radar speed signs, and according to the city's Public Works Department, the efforts saw a reduction in average speed on the road from 36mph to 26mph.

However, at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting, residents of the street still implored the city council to do more saying they still feared for their safety.

Responding to the requests, city Traffic Engineer Corbett explained that the city recently conducted analysis on the street and found that with the striping and signage the road did not pose a public safety threat to those residing on that section of SE 17th Place.

Despite being found to not cause safety concerns, the city council requested city staff lower the speed limit in that area of SE 17th Place.

On Monday, city staff brought forward the resolution to reduce the speed limit from 30mph to 25mph on the street from Four Mile Cove to Veterans Parkway.

The city council unanimously approved the proposed resolution. City crews will now begin work to install the new 25mph speed limit signs along the road.

 

City receives glowing FY 2016 CAFR review

Representatives from Clifton Larson Allen, the CPA firm hired by the city to conduct an audit of its Fiscal Year 2016 financials were on hand at Monday night's meeting to present the annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) to the city council.

The firm shared with the city council that the report held no management findings or recommendations or no findings or questioned costs.

According to the report, the city held assets held 1.71 billion in total assets and 1.18 billion in total liabilities.

Clifton Larson Allen said that the city's pension funds in Fiscal Year 2016 ranged from nearly 74% to 82% funded with the General Employees' Pension Plan 73.89% funded, Police Pension Plan 82.4% funded, and Firefighters' Pension Plan 75.25% funded.

The report also shows the city's revenues increased from $142,994,530 to $147,573,216 from Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2016, while expenses increased from $122,393,804 to $131,894,234 during the same period. The city's Fund Balance or Reserves ended the year at $50,545,177, which represents 2.7 months of operating expenses.

Martin Redovan, principal CPA for Clifton Larson Allen commended the city's financial services department for its work in preparing information for the audit report.