Election Day may be more than nine months away, but it never hurts to plan early.
That's what the Cape Coral City Council plans to do Monday during its weekly meeting at City Hall, with a discussion item on the consent agenda to etch the dates in stone for primaries, early voting, and general elections for three council seats.
The consent item would authorize the Lee County Supervisor of Elections to conduct early voting for the city's primary elections on Sept. 10 and the general election on Nov. 5. The estimated cost is $6,000 per election.
The item is a formality. Still, Councilmember John Carioscia he hopes there will be no lengthy lines like last November.
"Hopefully, for residents, they won't stand in line for hours. If they don't have to stand in line, they'll get to vote for their choice," Carioscia said.
City spokesperson Connie Barron said municipal elections generally don't usually produce those long lines.
"We usually don't have long lines waiting to vote, which is kind of a shame," she said. "We don't usually have long ballots, either."
Under state statute, municipalities can select a number of days for early voting and hours of operation of voting sites. However, early voting sites must be outlined.
Previously, early voting was held six days prior to elections at the Lee County Elections branch office in Cape Coral at 1031 SE 9th Place, or at the main office at 2480 Thompson St. in Fort Myers.
Early voting will take place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7 for the primaries, and from Oct.28 to Nov. 2 for the general election, according to the city clerk's office memorandum.
The mayoral seat as well as districts 1, 4 and 6 will be up for grabs.
The qualifying period for candidates will go from July 1-5, with pre-qualification to take place at the city clerk's office from June 17-28.
The item will be placed on the Feb. 11 agenda for final council consideration.
Also, the city will again be awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) for fiscal year 2011. This is the highest recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.
For the city, it's vindication for the way it says it was maligned by critics for what was in it more than for how it was done.
"It flies in the face of the critics. They must be doing cartwheels because they have been critical of all the financial department has done," Carioscia said.
"This is the 26th consecutive year we've won that certificate. It has to do with reporting and how it's put together," Barron said. "It has nothing to do with what's in it. Clear is in the eye of the beholder with the CAFR because it contains so many financial reports."
The city council will give its approval or rejection to four consent items. Among those that could be pulled for further discussion is one to authorize a change order in the contract amount for the city's Public Works building renovation by $113,305 because of unexpected costs and additional work.
Due to the length of Monday's meeting, the city council moved back its discussion of items it would like to bring up with the Board of County Commissioners during its joint meeting scheduled in late March or early April.
The discussion on K-C's River Stop lease renewal, which could foster discussion both pro and con, has been pushed back to Feb. 11.
"We gave it another week so that we could review the situation and came back to city council," Barron said. "The restaurant has its supporters and they have come out and supported the restaurant and the lease agreement with the city."