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Council moves millage, budget to second hearing

September 14, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Due to Lee County's announcement of the Friday mandatory evacuation order, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council sheared down its hefty agenda list at Thursday's meeting.

The council continued all items that were not time sensitive and honed in on a quick, unanimous vote to move the budget and the proposed millage rate to the second hearing on Sept. 21.

Although the preliminary millage rate was set at .9 mills; however, Town Manager Roger Hernstadt had whittled the millage down to a .87 mills.

The .87 rate will bring in approximately $2,776,842 in ad valorem revenue.

The budget includes a parking fee increase. Currently, the town charges $2 an hour for its paid public parking spots. Hernstadt has suggested this increase as a way to fund a capital improvement plan (CIP).

Hernstadt had said in previous interviews that one of his biggest goals for the 2017-2018 budget was to set up a program to save for and fund capital improvements in the long range. The town did not have anything set up for this, he said, and no funding source. Instead it was a pay as it comes system, which is not a financially stable operation method.

At Thursday's meeting, the town council also approved an authorization for stormwater maintenance and repair with Shenandoah Construction Company. The contract was awarded in June, but the council had not yet approved work to be done. The contract is not to exceed $88,717, and the company will be examining the town's current in-ground stormwater systems as well as swales to do maintenance on them, such as digging out old swales that have been filled in or de-clogging an outfall. Also related to stormwater, the second set of joint outfalls in Segment 2 (Bay, Donora, Connect, Bay Mar) were approved along with a $142,940 authorization for Tetra Tech for engineering, oversight and public outreach for the Phase 3 joint outfalls.

Tetra Tech's item was approved 3 to 1. Council Member Joanne Shamp had an excused absence. Council Member Anita Cereceda dissented, because she did not approve of the cut made to the public information part of the sum. In the last section, a concentrated effort was put into making sure neighbors knew what was going on on their street with the stormwater and water line projects.

"With Hercules, we turned a bad situation good because of outreach," Cereceda said. "Don't start changing the outreach efforts. It should be street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, meetings, all of it."

Hernstadt had appropriated *$25,000 in the sum to the outreach effort. Cereceda was concerned that the next set of street residents wouldn't get the same levels of service as the last set because the dollar amount had been cut. Hernstadt said if more funds were needed for outreach, more could be added with council approval.

*In the article, "Council moves millage, budget to second hearing," in the Sept. 13 issue of the Observer, it was erroneously stated how much the town budget was going to allocate to public outreach with ReFresh Estero Boulevard work. The allocation is $25,000, cut back from $95,000 in last year's budget.



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