Stormwater Fee Moving Forward

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After Monday’s Council decision on the stormwater utility fee, we sat down for a brief interview with two members of Town staff – Public Works Director Scott Baker, Administrative Specialist Chelsea O’Riley and Danny Nelson from Tetra-Tech to find out exactly what the plan is now that the Town will be moving forward with the $19.98/month ESU.

First, we asked about the ‘administrative fee’ that Council mentioned at their meeting. Nelson told us that he has no idea right now what that amount will be, but it will be made clear once the facilities plan is complete. The facilities plan will include what is currently in place and what is needed prospectively for storm water management.

“This would be all the ‘soft costs’ or ‘paperwork’ associated with the project, including staff’s time,” he said. “We may be able to pull that out before the facilities plan is done, but it’s not likely.”

Baker told us that the contract for the facilities plan is ready, and he expects Town Manager Don Stilwell to sign it Friday morning. Once begun, he expects it to take about 3 months to complete.

“Basically, this will tell us what types of improvement methods we’ll able to do and a lot better estimation of the cost,” he said. “First we have to pay back the $2 million the Town owes for work it’s already done, then we find out how much we can use for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) and how much capital we’ll have for new projects. The O&M costs will be higher at first as we do repairs that have been needed for a long time, then that number will go down as those repairs are made, but the costs for infrastructure will go up as capital projects are added.”

In the meantime, Nelson said that he is meeting with staff to determine what types of things can be done right now.

As far as the condominiums on Bay Beach Lane, Baker said it’s his understanding that Council will look at the resolution proposed by the EBIA attorney, Michael Ciccarone, at their next meeting on February 16th.

“That way they can give us direction as to what to do before residents’ utility bills come out on March 1st,” he said.

For those who would like to see exactly how much they’ll be paying with the new $19.98 ESU, go to the Town’s website at www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov and type in ‘property lookup’ in the search area. Chelsea told us that an updated list would be available soon.

Keri Hendry Weeg