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On the ballot: City of Cape Coral Bond Referendum; Q&A with the city regarding the $60 million GO bond

October 18, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The Breeze submitted a list of questions to the city of Cape Coral and the School District of Lee County, asking for information on their respective ballot referendums.

Below is the city of Cape Coral's answers to questions concerning the City of Cape Coral Bond referendum:

-- What is the city asking voters to decide?

Article Photos

Go Parks, Go Bond, Go Vote! The city is asking residents to consider what they would like the future of their city to look like. Parks and recreation activities can improve health, the environment and the local economy for current and future residents and businesses.

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-- How will it appear on my ballot?

It will be the last item on the ballot. Cape Coral General Obligation Bonds for Parks, Wildlife Habitat and Shoreline Protection and Recreational Facilities To finance costs of various parks, natural areas, recreational and athletic facilities, trails, boat ramps, piers, swimming and fishing facilities, and improvements for wildlife habitat and shoreline protection, shall the City of Cape Coral issue general obligation bonds not exceeding $60,000,000, maturing within 15 years of issuance, with interest not exceeding the maximum legal rate, and payable from ad valorem property taxes levied in amounts sufficient to pay debt service on such Bonds?

_____Yes - For Bonds

_____No - Against Bonds

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-- Where will I find it?

It will be the last item on the ballot if you are a resident of Cape Coral.

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-- Why is the additional revenue needed?

Finance the needed neighborhood parks (7), Community Parks (3), Yellow Fever Creek Park, and improve existing parks (20) due to exploding population of Cape Coral which is 200,000 as of today and expected to reach 400,000 citizens.

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-- Where will the money go? What projects will be funded?

The money will fund 7 new neighborhood parks, 1 environmental park, development of 3 community parks, acquiring land, and improving at least 19 existing park facilities. Visit www.capecoral.net/gobond for a description of each.

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-- How will this project plan benefit our community?

The Level of Service standard are part of the City's Comprehensive Plan, Recreation, and Open Space Element. 4 acres per 1,000 residents = Regional Park; 2 acres per 1,000 residents = Community Park; 2 acres per 1,000 residents = Neighborhood Park, and 1/2 acres per 1,000 residents = Specialty Park.

Currently, the City's Comprehensive Plan level of service is targeted at 8.5 acres per 1,000 residents; Cape Coral Parks and Recreation level of service is at 4.7 acres per 1,000 residents. The Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department is deficient in the areas of Regional, Community and Neighborhood Parks. It will advance the need for residents to walk or ride a bike by providing a neighborhood park within 1-2 miles of a resident's home; community park within 3-5 miles of a resident's home.

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-- If I vote YES, how much will it cost me individually?

Residents can use the online GO Bond Calculator at www.capecoral.net/GOBond to see how much the bond will cost for the first year. The amount should decrease every year with the increase in Cape Coral's total taxable values.

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-- The city has two other major parks projects under discussion, one for the purchase and development of the old golf course acreage, the other for a sports complex at Oasis High School. Neither of these projects are in the Parks Master Plan to be funded with the GO Bond. If either or both of those plans also go forward, how will they be funded? Where will that money come from?

The City will be focused on completing the promised projects identified for the $60 million bond. There are no specific funds available at this time to develop the Golf Club or sports park. These two potential developments will be discussed and addressed in future parks plans.

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-- Why can't the Parks Master Plan be funded out of the taxes I already pay?

The General Fund budget is where property taxes are deposited, and the General Fund supports the daily operations of the City. This includes the top priorities of public safety (police, fire) and infrastructure (public works). The General Fund includes funding for parks and recreation; however, there is not enough funding to complete the list of projects identified in the Parks Master Plan within six or seven years. The City might be able to set aside funding to build one neighborhood park every 3-4 years. At that rate, it would take about 30 years just to build the seven neighborhood parks identified in the bond issue and none of the other projects.

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-- I thought impact fees were supposed to pay for needs necessitated by growth. How did the city fall behind? Why can't impact fees be used to catch up?

The current impact fees pay for land acquisition debt service that was received earlier in 2005. All available funds are being used to satisfy annual debt service of $1.8 M.

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-- The city previously discussed funding this $60 million parks plan with a $40 million GO Bond to be supplemented with General Fund tax dollars and grants. How did the city arrive at the decision to bond the entire $60 million?

There was no discussion of using General Fund tax dollars to supplement the GO Bond. The Parks Master Plan implementation strategy suggested $40 million in GO Bond, with $5 million for grants, $2 million for partnerships, $6 million from Capital Improvement Program and $3.5 million for concessions. Rather than rely on the "if come" monies listed, the City decided it would be better to ensure program funding using the GO Bond.

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-- I don't use parks. Why should I vote YES?

The City cannot advocate for or against the bond issue. We can say the Needs Assessment suggests we need more parks for those using them today and in the future. These parks projects will provide an opportunity for those who use the parks system now, tomorrow, and in the future. It Starts in Parks.

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-- What is the city's Plan B if voters vote NO?

If the bond does not pass, we will continue the Parks Master Plan projects using a "pay-as-you-go" strategy. It could take decades to complete all of these projects.

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-- What additional information should I consider before I cast my ballot?

N/A

 
 
 

 

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