When Cape Coral City Council announced more than a year ago that the city needed to tackle its utility expansion conundrum, we were among those who urged the elected board to lead the effort.
We hoped the announced twice-monthly "Committee of the Whole" workshops would present some viable solutions to the very real challenges associated with a billion-dollar project stopped in mid-course - spiraling utility rates associated with the cost of a water treatment plant built for customers whose properties were pushed off the service list; potential surface water quality issues that have attracted the interest of state regulatory agencies and the ire of environmental groups demanding pricey mitigation plans in the north Cape.
Unfortunately, these so-called COW meetings have produced little.
Worse, they have become a quasi-political forum for those looking to bash past councils, past administrations, past practices, past projections and, well, pretty much every past decision as it now appears in the rearview mirror.
Let us be blunt:
Our elected officials have wasted weeks upon weeks chewing the same tired cud, jawing over information long in play and suggestions previously discarded because they're impractical, illegal, or centered around somehow forcing those not on the utility system to contribute although there is no plan in place to actually provide water or sewer services to their properties.
Only one somewhat new idea has come from all the meetings, speechifying and presentations - a proposal to refinance existing utility debt incurred for infrastructure already built by issuing general obligation bonds to be guaranteed not by rates, but by property tax dollars.
Proponents say this would lower monthly water and sewer bills. The tradeoff, of course, would be a new tax for everyone who owns property, ratepayer or not.
GO bond financing requires voter approval.
Good luck with that should it actually make its way onto the ballot this fall.
Meanwhile, we have a one key suggestion for the COW meetings: Make them productive by considering solutions - or stop going through the motions.
We know where we are. We know how we got here.
And we don't care how it was done in Minnesota back in the '60s or how much water was unaccounted for in 2004.
The issue is, where are we, as a city, going next - and how can you lead us there?
Some forward motion, please. It's long overdue.
- Breeze Newspapers editorial