News-Press.com - Fort Meyers, Florida - Southwest Florida
February 27, 2010
Cape mayor Sullivan faces concerned residents at town hall
By Brian Liberatore
12:25 P.M. - High taxes and fees are squeezing the cash out of Cape Coral, Mayor John Sullivan said Saturday. During a two-hour town hall meeting at the Cape Coral Library, the mayor blamed high city tax salaries, excessive utility debt and bad management in the past for the city's fiscal woes.
"This stuff has been messed up for decades," Sullivan said. "This council is going to have to climb mountains in order to get done what we need to get done. You folks are going to have to bear with us. This is going to take time to get done."
About 150 people packed into the city's meeting, most of them disgruntled by the city's financial straits.
"The traffic out the front door is down to 2003 levels," said Mary Ann Evans, who owns Leapin Lizard Bar & Grille on the Cape Coral Parkway. "We have had so many layoffs, I'm working 100 hours a week. And I'm an old lady. We have so much pressure down there. And we have city employees worrying about overtime."
During the meeting Sullivan told the group:
- He wants to find a way to make residents pre-pay impact fees to offset debt on the city's new water purification plant.
- The city should issue an ordinance that will give preference to local contractors for their bids.
- The council should appoint someone to fill Eric Grill's seat rather than spend $146,000 for a special election. The council has appointed people to fill the last three vacancies, Sullivan said.
- He wants to bring back New York City-area auditor Michael Kessler for between $40,000 and $50,000 to finish an audit on utility expansion projects in the Southwest 1, 2 and 3 assessment areas.
- The mayor will push for an audit of the city's facility expansion program along with the other utility expansion projects.
"We can't keep letting the residents get beat up," Sullivan said. "Nobody's got anymore money to raise taxes."