John Szerlag, Cape Coral's new city manager, assumed the administrative helm this week.
We welcome Mr. Szerlag, and we wish him every success.
He does have his work cut out for him
Although preliminary numbers show property valuations may have stabilized, another challenging budget cycle lies ahead.
Also ahead is the expected restart of Cape Coral's controversial and constantly contested utility expansion project. Our city's new council has agreed that the program designed to bring water and sewer services to unserved areas of the city needs to move forward. City history, unfortunately, has taught us the difficulty lies not with the concept, but in the details which are still to come.
Other issues are numerous: Our economic driver, construction, remains stalled; while improving, unemployment numbers remain high; and the Cape's commercial occupancy rates are in dire need of a boost.
Add in capitalizing on the economic development opportunities in and around the Veterans Investment Zone; lingering environmental challenges with the north spreader, festival park and the academic village site; and how to make sure Cape taxpayers get the greatest bang for the $13 million spent to buy 652 acres at foreclosure auction, and it is plain there are a plethora of priorities that must be addressed.
All in a political climate that, well, has been a challenge unto itself as Mr. Szerlag's two predecessors can easily attest.
Council felt the man who "stared down the lion" and dealt with similar tough times in Troy, Mich., was up to the task of steering our city through the challenges ahead.
If his long record of service and the kind of success that led Troy to promote him from assistant city manager to manager in 1999, retain him until he left in 2006, and then request his return in 2009 to deal with the economic devastation that city also experienced is any indication, he is.
We look forward to Mr. Szerlag's action plan for the budget year ahead.
- Breeze editorial