Cape Coral property owners may be looking at a decrease in the tax rate.
City council was briefed on the pending Fiscal Year 2015 budget numbers Wednesday and most favor a .75 mill decrease - a drop of 75 cents for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Council also was updated on the utilities extension project for North 1 and 2 at Wednesday night's special meeting.
Mike Burton of Burton & Associates answered council's concerns with interactive scenario reviews on his budget model software. Council members spent almost two hours of plugging in different sets of numbers and almost instantly recalculating the effects on the budget figures for 2014 all the way through to 2024.
Several millage figures were calculated and recalculated through the model to settle on a figure so City Manager John Szerlag and staff can prepare and draft the next budget proposal.
"This model gives you a look at the next 10 budget years instead of looking at typically one to three years," said Szerlag.
Council members primarily toyed with employee salary increases, hiring of additional employees, accounting for possible future streetlight district assessment, positive cash flow charts and adding to revenue reserves.
Though the model software assumes all of the projected percentages and amounts are accurate, but each budget cycle revenues and expenditures are subject to influences beyond control and can be adjusted.
Szerlag wanted three key numbers from council Wednesday night to continue budget preparation. He wanted council to settle on a percentage rate for the Public Service Tax, the millage rate and the Fire Assessment cost recovery percentage.
Council settled on a 0.7500 millage rate reduction, which four of the current council members promised to deliver when the Public Service Tax was approved. Coupled with a rate reduction of .25 mills in 2014, the city's property tax rate will have dropped one full mill over two years to 6.9570 for 2015, down from 7.7070 in 2014.
The Public Service Tax will remain at 7 percent for 2015 with the Fire Assessment cost recovery rate at 64 percent.
North 1 and 2 UEP was previously approved by council on Feb. 12, 2012, along with Southwest 6 and 7, which currently is under construction.
Utilities expansion manager Paul Clinghan made the staff presentation seeking direction from council to move forward in putting together a design, bid and build methodology. Clinghan also asked to hire an outside consultant for the design, construction engineering and inspection as well as hire three internal design staffers to coordinate the process. Salaries for the three new full-time employees, two of them engineers, would come from the assessment funding.
Council's direction was necessary to design and bid the estimated $137 million North 2 project over the next 12 to 15 months so that construction can begin in Fiscal Years 2015-2017. North 1, estimated at $118 million, will follow with design in 2016 and construction targeted for 2017 to 2019.
The UEP will start in North 2 north of Pine Island Road, consisting of a narrow strip from Old Burnt Store Road to Del Prado Boulevard, an area of approximately 4.27 square miles, because the water design part of the project already is completed.
With council's approval, Clinghan will bring resolutions before council at the June 16 meeting to start the request for qualifications process from consultant firms and for hiring the three new internal employees. The actual selection of the engineering firm would seek council approval in August or September.