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Cost assessments should be fair

April 6, 2013

To the editor: A fire assessment tax is again being discussed as a necessity in our city....

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lightswitch

Apr-12-13 11:58 AM

HERE IS THE BOTTOM LINE.

THE CITY OF CAPE CORAL, FL HAS NOT LIVED WITHIN ITS BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET.

iT KNEW PRECISELY WHAT HOME WERE GOING TO PROVIDE THEM WITH THE AMOUNT FROM HOMESTEAD. tHEY HAD THE FIGURES FROM THE YEAR BEFORE TO MAKE A BUDGET...THEY DIDN"T.

aT THIS POINT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE CUTS MADE BY THE SO CALLED SHUTTERING. ( complete shut down once again increases the dollar amount more than necessary.) LETS LIVE WITH A SPARTAN CUT FOR YEAR AND ADDRESS HOW IMPORTANT MANY OF THE SERVICES ARE TO THE MAJORITY OF THE RESIDENTS. MC GRAIL IS NO PROBLEM SOLVER AND DOES NOT BELONG IN A POSITION IN WHICH HE IS DIRECTING A CITY. SELF EVIDENT. PS. THE CITY IN THE 2007 2008 HAD 1,200 EMPLOYEES, TODAY THEY HAVE 1,200 EMPLOYEES. THE CRA HAS JUST 2 MONTHS AGO HAD CUTS SO THEY HAVE NOT EVEN ENTERED THE OPERATIONAL PICTURE. STILL PAYING SEVERANCE AND COBRA TO JACOBSON AREN'T YOU. BUDGET WITHIN YOUR REVENUE WITHOUT END RUNNING MILLAGE RATES. THE BUDGET WE NOW HAVE IS SZER

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lightswitch

Apr-11-13 9:32 AM

Having a balanced budget based on the true revenue the city collects.

The second thing to have happen for the home owners benefit that do not collect a pay check from the city is to contact The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee Telephone 850-488-7864

Tell them the city is in need of an audit to find out why this city can not provide a balanced budget based on the revenue they have been getting for the last three years. The city paid down debt is paying less debt service. Moved money into actively managed financial instruments. Has had increase in total tax dollars, etc. etc. etc. Wait till the UEP is restarted. Who believes the open mic conversation at a meeting stating. "Council will never go for that." The city manager Szerlag then states do not worry it is buried so deep in the weeds they will never find it." I do not believe him and he needs to be called before States Attorney along with the other members at that meeting!

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lightswitch

Apr-11-13 9:18 AM

Who knew when the words came out of Czerlag's mouth and direected by most of the city council that the numbers would be so much higher than the $150 per home.

Just about everyone who pays an electric bill or has it deducted from their checking account.

That number was not credible and now you have to ask are any of this city's number credible?

McGrail didn't catch anything. He just puts what ever is going to save face for a dysfunctional set of books in the city.

He figures by May 18 not enough people will be around to matter what they vote in.

COMPLICATED FORMULA MY AS( )! Why would you have to have a complicated formula? Because someone looked at the numbers at the time of the year when we have had a mild winter, did not look at last years receipts to LCEC during the late spring and early fall. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS.

McGrail is correct about one thing he is running for reelection and should not be voted for. He is a poor excuse and a shill to keep the city f

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lightswitch

Apr-10-13 5:28 PM

Soon to arrive the so called recording that is not available. MrSzerlag let's see how the UEP goes along and how much money can change hands and be picked up by the rate payers. Then and only then before any statute of limitation comes into play. The recording on Cape TV shall we say miraculously APPEAR! Gonna be a whole lotta shaken going on!

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lightswitch

Apr-10-13 4:48 PM

Onlythetruth as a taxpayer I do not need a reason to not want to pay more for something that should be less.

I should not have to agree with and run with the lemmings like you.

This city almost had enough time to get its financial house in order. It ran under lean budgets and we all had the same services. The only ones who suffered were so many that were being pushed to perform their jobs and some didn't do it anyway. The city did not get rid of good people when they shed directors. Those people gained employment making MUCH LESS money than they should of received in Cape Coral, Florida. Let's see what happens here when potential residents build elsewhere due to high utility costs, extra utility taxes, subsidizing businesses sewer rates and trash removal. You'll hear it see it andread it! WELCOME TO CAPE CORAL WHERE GOVERNMENT IS ITS BIGGEST BUSINESS & TAXES AND FEES WHAT IT PRODUCES!

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lightswitch

Apr-10-13 4:13 PM

No you are the piece of sh>T. I came here 32 years ago because yes this place was a good value. It is not now and even before the outrageous escalation in home prices I preached a restraint in overextending oneself with debt whether it was an individual, country, state, county or a city. As I posted at other times I could not speak out for fear I would do harm to my family, the company I worked for or myself. Today I can say like eaglets my family was able to leave the nest and are established in better communities than this one. I do not owe you or any other company or individual anything. So I have and will speak out instead of attending council meetings years ago and*****it up and do my occupational job. The city has grown with great imbalance which added to the economic slop hole it is in and will stay in. Since 1982 this city took 17 years to build a bridge, 1990 it put in water/sewer/irrigation without a plan on controlling where it went or how it would be paid for.

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onlythetruth

Apr-10-13 6:23 AM

Lightswitch, now you finally have drilled down to the core issue. You built here out of pure greed, to ride the wave of growth and accumulate personal gain. That is your choice, and one which I agree with, believe it or not. Then the wave crashed on the beach and now you want to poiint an accusatory finger at everyone else for your impulse. Finally, it's out in the open. Thank you. P.S. I surmise we'd hear hardly a peep out of you if the market have never crashed....

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lightswitch

Apr-09-13 10:43 AM

My lot is 20' longer than the so called standard and the ERU 1.1. Whie the standard is 80'x120 I am charged an extra $20 a year. This in itself is not a lot but on top of all the other overcharges andf now a tax on utilities, over the length of 30 year mortgage that is another $600 that comes out of my investment when and if I can afford to sell my investment in this city. Nor does it cover the $800 culvert under my driveway that was deemed necessary when I built. In 32 years there has never been a rain storm that even left standing water in the swale or on the lot with or without a home on it. So now we are up to $1,400 and the clock is still ticking. As it is for so many other home owners in this city who do not even realize it. I am sorry that my nature is that I choose not to have to pay too much for what I don't have to. Building here was my folly as I felt being part of the growth would bring value and stability in Cape Coral, Fl. It's not but I"ll deal with it and tell o

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netransplant

Apr-07-13 9:36 PM

It's obvious that Lightswitch knows little about his rant topics. Storm fees are based on ERU's, not square footage. Every home on a standard building lot pays the same $75 no matter what size the home is. And that 3% that went into pension came from employees checks, thus saving the city from having to contribute the same. It takes a simple mind to find blame without solutions, and you have proven that again and again.

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lightswitch

Apr-07-13 6:47 PM

There are a lot more depts and duplication of services in this city. But you know I am not paid to go through each and every line item. It is bad enough this city can not get the people it hires to do the job they were hired to do. The city is at population levels inline with 2003 and 2004 and still can't make its budgets work. What they are not even entertaining is what ever the increase is (and probably should be) that will increase tax revenue. But you can rest assure a lot more is going 5to come in with normal mean and utility tax and the ratios be damned. I know and so does the city it is being scrutinized and I can only hope my ranting helped in a small way to get that done.

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lightswitch

Apr-07-13 6:38 PM

Reduce the number and types of vehicles responding to ALL emergency calls. Fuel allone would be cut. We here oh we have to because of the particular piece of equipment on this vehicle and not that. How many years have the reduction been called for and no equipment was purchased to replace or bwe added. EVEN IN THE BOOM YEARS!

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lightswitch

Apr-07-13 6:34 PM

3% out of the existing pensions which was added in last year's budget. No 5% bonus for pensions deal. Rework pension based on a no less than 94% invested by the city with a 6% match on up to 10% of staffs investment out of their wages. A 401k version giving choices the more risk the more reward. The less risk less reward. No 100% guarantee unless they put into something like a Certificate of Deposit with little chance for growth. No backing of pensions with general obligation bonds held by the city.

That is one cut.

Storm water needs to be one dept. within the public works. There are too many dept layers and staff to get the same jobs accomplished. Eliminate a firefighter to keep track of fire apparatus. Restructure fleet maintenance. Why because we have seen the asst. managers couldn't even schedule and check to see that the maintenance was being done correctly or at all. No one wants their little kingdom cut and the directors, city manager and the council are not going to

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onlythetruth

Apr-07-13 7:34 AM

Lightswitch, another rant as usual, name the "cuts" you will make, no personal commentary. You didn't answer the tax question regarding what you pay personally to the city as a portion of your overall bill. You didn't answer what you think the tax rate should be, etc. Just another rant. If your laundry list of accusations were true people would be in jail or arrested. However, to date, nothing of the sort has happened. Proving yet once again that the accusations you lob like grenades are nothing more than repetitive mantra of your heroes, the Road Ahead. If they were so good while in control, wouldn't they still be in power? Last time I checked an electorate usually doesn't bounce someone they consider as doing a good job.

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lightswitch

Apr-06-13 11:16 PM

The Inspector Geneneral does not need to be at the School System at the county as much as he needs to be in Cape Coral. History clearly show that not politics as the state thinks the problems are here. Why would Councilman Nesta be questioned in Tallahassee, "What is going on in Cape Coral?" Now why don't you refute what I want cut. By the way maybe you can explain why the police dept took 3 years from 2007 to 2010 to cut its overtime by 80%. There was a resident before Gary King came on board who approached Terry Stewart and council for more than a year for the overtime figures before the housing bust and could not get the information. Think we were giving away the farm before the RAGS came on board? You betcha!

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lightswitch

Apr-06-13 11:04 PM

There are still too many duplicated departments, personnel and services duplicated in this city by the county. How many years did it take to find out $286,000 school road signals could be engineered, purchased and installed for $45,000 each. How many copies of the $286,000 ones were installed 16 or 20? Best part former city manager King and the so called RAGS discovered this. I could go on and on but this all I am giving you from memory lest I sit down and make noted from the prior council meetings going back to Feicthaler and Burche Regimes. How much money was blown providing service for a CRA? Let the Chamber of Commerce and the businesses in the district get it done, Absolutely sickening how much money and time wasted decade after decade. Eleven years to figure out what to do with power lines. The problems in this city did not just happen. In Terry Stewart's 7 years that 2 term council doubled salaries and expanded positions. most not reduced when residents left. 172K to un

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lightswitch

Apr-06-13 10:45 PM

Lets start with storm water management dept and the tax by the square foot being charged. Any other municipal government incorporates this into their street dept. Not charging an extra fee, not duplicating more layers of management, etc. etc. etc.. $109,000 for a fourth of July party is too much for a city like ours that can not seem to make ends meet. Overtime for people in management who have a salary wage schedule. Pensions that provide*****near what the person makes working. Purchase of land such as 20/20 which goes to county and has never been questioned by any council. Purchase of 13.1 million dollars of land that is worthless. And if it is not worthless let's see you sell it for a profit. Don't buy $15 million dollars worth of equipment for a $46 million dollar project that was never approved. This alone needed to bring jail time and reduce some positions. How many $2.5 million dollar fire station were built instead of stations for $250,000 as were built in Charlotte C

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certainsmile

Apr-06-13 7:28 PM

Residential based on census figures unless contested with established criteria and documents provided and accepted at an appeal during the month of January each year.This would be similar to the window for property tax appeals. Nursing homes, assisted living and hotels based on maximum occupancy numbers less 10% allowing for vacancies. Businesses -rate could be determined on a scale for the number of employees. More employees mean higher likelihood of 911 call. More employees may mean more visitors to the establishment and additional chances for medical emergencies.. There are ways to have all contributing in a more equitable manner.

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onlythetruth

Apr-06-13 6:22 PM

1sandy, the headcount can be achieved by using U.S. census numbers. It is inherently more equitable to use the headcount method, I also agree that nursing homes, as well as any other business in the Cape should also pay. But, as I said, once the initial rate is set it should not be allowed to go up unless approved through a referendum.

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onlythetruth

Apr-06-13 6:12 PM

Lightswitch, no individual has asked you these questions, so I will. What portion the taxes you pay are actually going to Cape Coral? What do you feel the tax rate should be? Lastly, what services are you willing to give up in order to achieve the tax rate you deem fair?

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1sandy

Apr-06-13 5:39 PM

@certainsmile: How do you suppose a head count to be ascertained? A house to house search? Federal census, Bawhahaha? How will the City prove a head count? Just saying to do something without an implimentation plan is just fool hardy.

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certainsmile

Apr-06-13 3:37 PM

Onlythetruth, some quick math. 1,000,000 divided by the 155,000 residents is a mere $6.45 per person for each million dollars needed. A head tax spreads out the cost to everyone and is less than two cents a day per person for a million dollars!

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certainsmile

Apr-06-13 3:15 PM

cPeCoralCuestion, at the council meeting this group did discuss using the square footage of a residence to determine the cost to each homeowner. Yesterday the fire department responded to a medical emergency at the health club while I was there. This is the second time recently that I witnessed this at the same facility and both times the victims were visitors from up North.What connection is there between the size of our home and the visitors exercising and having a medical problem?

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lightswitch

Apr-06-13 3:04 PM

I have already found where I just can't make it work you dee values of homes are dropping here not because of the lack of services. But because the cost of the services are too high and have a direct relationship to what the value of the real estate is worth. So expand the services build more and keep the values down. All the savings the city has reports it makes. Where are they? Hmm?

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CapeCoralCuestions

Apr-06-13 12:59 PM

Mary, 2009 was a long time ago and those plans are not on the table now. But, I obviously Mr. Mason was correct. If the city is unable to keep up with maintenance and won't raise ad valorem taxes, we are going to be forced to cut services. Read last week's and Wednesday's issue of The Breeze.

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linda53

Apr-06-13 12:53 PM

Dismantling this City is not an option..imo,the past fab5 council wouldn't put their big boy pants on and keep the cape going forward.They are the only ones that has brought us to the hard decisions that our new Council has to make.But they will com thru because they believe in the citizens that want to keep their services and "Quality Of Life" we have already paid for. oh and lightswitch please move on and find somewhere else to reside,somewhere that doesn't want the parks,nice roads to drive on,services for our special populations,street lights,city water and sewer or anything else positive. see ya

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