Lee County budget workshop
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Aug. 19, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.-
Lee County Commission held a workshop on reducing its $30 million dollar operating deficit.
The commissioners gave staff some clear direction on where to start whittling away on county expenses.
Commissioner Larry Kiker said "I absolutely am against raising any taxes until we filter out our expenses versus our revenue, and find out how much money do we have."
The commission agreed that the bus routes to pine island as well as routes serving San Carlos to FGCU will most likely be eliminated.
The Southwest Florida Council for the Blind had a number of people at the meeting to express their disapproval of cutting the routes.
Mike Ulrich is legally blind and was there to demonstate support.
He said "I know of a couple of my members that live there and, without para transport, I have no idea what they're going to do."
And it appears the overall hours of service will be reduced for all the existing routes... and that could mean longer layovers and more transit time.... making getting around even harder.
Ulrich said "transportation is one of the biggest issues the blind face."
The county commissioners did say they would consider hiring a private company to address the needs of the disabled -- and work out some kind of fee for service.
However painful, the commissioners also decided to cut nearly half a million dollars to the 22 non profits agencies that provide services to the working poor and the needy.
But the commissioners did agree that no cuts would go to the triage center and low-income child care.
Also up for discussion the 20/20 program for environmentally sensitive land.
Frank Mann said "I think we will always want to set aside a little pot of money to buy those quality piece of land that will improve the quality of life in lee county."
The county has $102 million of existing fund balance for Conservation 20/20.
It will be retained by the program for land acquisition and maintenance.
The county is also looking at City of Palms baseball stadium as a way to save money.
But because of a contract with the City of Fort Myers, the county wants some legal advice on what it can and can't do with the property, before they make any more decisions.