CAPE CORAL, Fla. - It's your money, and Cape Coral's city manager says the city needs a tax increase, or the fire, police force and park services will suffer. He wants to raise taxes $15 a month. But some Cape Coral residents say they can't afford it.
WINK News told you last week about a proposal to make residents pay $150 more a year though a public service tax on your electric bill, and through a fire assessment.
The city manager says this will save city programs and pave the roads you drive on. Some residents say they don't support it
Jimmy Nowinski is retired and has lived in the city for a decade. He's not too happy at the thought of a $150 tax hike. "The taxes seem to be going up every year," he said.
But city manager John Szerlag says without this increase, about 750 jobs will be gone by October 1st. Many are from the police and fire department. He also says city parks, like Sunsplash, as an example, would shut down.
"What the community needs to hear is that since 2007, Cape Coral has artificially balanced its budgets, its general fund budget, by ignoring capital," Szerlag said. Because of this he says, the city is facing a $20 million shortfall.
To fix it, he tells WINK News the public service tax, and the fire services assessment would take an estimated $15 out of your wallet a month. The city would adjust millage rates to drop the number to $150 a year.
That money would also go towards paving city roads. Currently the city budget for that sits at zero dollars.
Despite this, some residents say they don't want more taxes.
"Everybody's tightening their belt, so maybe they (the city) need to consider doing that, too," said resident Cheryl Furman.
"A little bit outrageous! Because we're going though a very rough economic time, so the city should look for other ways to get some money." said resident Harold Santiago.
Szlerlag says Cape Coral is the only city in the state that doesn't use a public service tax.
Exactly how the city will accomplish this tax increase is still a work in progress.
You can voice your opinion about this at a public hearing April 22nd.