Residents incensed that Cape utilities project moves forward
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Those living in Cape Coral found out how much a proposed utilities change will cost them. The controversial Utilities Expansion Project, known as the UEP, is moving ahead. In a 5 to 2 vote, city leaders approved it. Mayor John Sullivan and councilman Chris Leetz were the dissenting votes. Councilman Marty McClain was absent.
Cape Coral residents rallied before city council disgusted by their leaders.
"Get out and vote next time and get them out of here!" yelled one lady, as she rushed out of council chambers, after the vote came down.
She's angry about a cost of $24,414 that residents south of Pine Island road will be forced to pay over 20 years for the UEP. It's the way for them to install water, sewer and irrigation services on properties that rely on wells. The total bill for property owners is just over $102.7 million. Construction will begin in September and is projected to finish in February 2015. Annual payments will start in November 2014.
"The economy's not ready yet," said a woman at the podium during public comment. "The people aren't ready yet!"
The same woman who ran out said when she was at the dais, "You people don't have any idea what the real world is all about!"
But some city leaders say the upgrade must be done. They argue that the longer they wait to modernize these utilities, the more expensive it will get.
"We will move forward," said councilman John Carioscia "The rate payers of this town have been putting it on their backs long enough."
Councilman Rana Erbrick, added, "This needs to go forward." She emphasized, "It needs to stop, the division in the city needs to end."
But the Mayor John Sullivan says the timing is bad because a lot of people can't afford it.
"I happen to know that there's a lot of people in Cape Coral that can't even put food on their table," said Sullivan. "This is going to cost those folks about $320 a month more, at least for the first six years."
It's a payment Cape residents won't fork over without a fight.
"Who are you representing?" exclaimed a man at the podium. "Why are you doing this?"
Council will be will offering financing plans and a "hardship program" to help residents make payments. The UEP will be officially adopted in council chambers on August 21.