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City Manager recommends holding property tax rate at current level

July 25, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

If Cape Coral City Council follows the recommendations of the city's top administrator, the property tax rate will remain the same as will the city's tax on electric bills while the fire assessment rate will climb.

On Tuesday, Cape Coral City Manager John Szerlag released his FY 2019 Proposed Budget, which includes a recommendation to leave the property tax rate unchanged at 6.75 mils, keep the public service tax rate at 7 percent and increase the fire services assessment cost recovery rate from 59 percent to 62 percent of the cost of operations.

The city of Cape Coral's taxable values increased 8.49 percent this year. The proposed property tax rate of 6.75 mils, or $6.75 for every $1,000 of taxable valuation, will generate about $92.7 million in property tax revenue. These other two two revenue sources, the public service tax and fire assessment, will produce an estimated revenue of $33.4 million, for the General Fund budget.

These revenues will help address some of the City's financial challenges in the FY 2019 budget, officials said in a release issued by the city late Tuesday afternoon.

"The recommendation to maintain the current rate is based on the financial impact Hurricane Irma had on the City's fund balance and emergency reserves," the release states. "The City used $9 million of emergency reserves and $8.6 million in unassigned reserves. The City expects reimbursement for some of these expenditures from FEMA, however, it could take years for these funds to be reimbursed."

"While Hurricane Irma has impacted our FY 2019 budget, we will still be able to maintain a good level of service and keep Cape Coral one of the most affordable cities in Florida," said Szerlag said in the statement.

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The budget contains a number of challenges, officials said.

"One of these challenges required funding for School Resource Officers in all schools for the upcoming school year.," the release states. "While the City partnered with the Lee County School District to share these costs, the net annual impact is $1.3 million to the City's General Fund."

"Even with the challenges presented by Hurricane Irma and hiring more than 20 school resource officers, we have managed to craft a budget that allows Cape Coral to move the City forward and remain economically sustainable," said Szerlag.

The budget, which includes $6.5 million for local road paving, $100,000 for new streetlight fixtures, $312,000 for median improvements and $520,000 for alley paving, also maintains some key ongoing capital projects.



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