CREATED Apr. 25, 2013
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - City officials are at odds over the best way to plug an estimated $20 million budget hole.
You could see your taxes going up as a result.
This Monday, council will vote to add a ten-percent 'public service tax' to residents and business owners LCEC electric bill.
Four In Your Corner's Colleen Hogan is getting reaction from all sides of this controversial issue.
"Do any of us on council want to do this? No," Cape Coral councilwoman Rana Erbrick said. "Do we like doing this? No. The problem is, we're not going to like this city we have if we don't take action."
"I think I've only had three people say, please take my money," Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan said.
Differing views from city leaders on the utility tax.
One small business owner now trying to fight back against the tax. Larry St. Amand is so upset with the proposed tax, he's paying for commercials on TV and also standing on the street with a sign.
"The city manager's said, well it's only going to be $90 a person," Armand said. "Well, that's totally erroneous if you own a business, or if you spend more than $100 on your electric bill."
In one of his small businesses, it costs about $1,000 to keep the lights on and the engines humming. He estimates by the figures the city's provided, he'll pay up to $2,000 more a year in taxes from his businesses.
"This tax is really a very vicious tax," Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan said.
Of the voting city officials, only Sullivan and one other councilman oppose the tax that would show up on every Cape Coral residents LCEC bill.
"You're gonna have businesses that are large users of electric, that are going to get big bills and they're going to pass it onto their customers," Sullivan said.
Councilwoman Rana Erbrick says the city must diversify the income coming in, to cushion the city from the ups and downs of the economy. She also says city leaders could 'do-away' with the tax down the road if it doesn't work.
She also says without the tax measure passing, deep cuts will have to be made.
She says the money is needed for vital road and bridge repairs and keeping public parks and services running. She says deeper cuts could come from police and fire, which ultimately becomes an issue of public safety.
"Now we start to get into an issue where - if I'm a bad guy or gal, I take notice of where police coverage is thin," she said. "If I wanna wreak havoc, I pay attention to where the emergency response is thin."
If you'd like to calculate your public service tax, click on the Bid Red 4, for a calculator the city has provided.
Colleen Hogan, reporter