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Against the proposal to incorporate

August 9, 2017
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

Well, perhaps like you, I have been trying to educate myself on this business of incorporation that our neighbors at GPICA have ginned-up. There are a lot of things that I don't understand. Topping that list is why Cape Royal is involved. Shouldn't that community already be a part of Cape Coral? Further, why is it bad that Cape Coral wants to provide greater water access to more people? The big impact appears to be that Miceli's would lose its freebee employee parking lot. Not my problem, nor yours. Some people say that the Cape might build eight-story buildings on the property and then said people bring up the old saw of furthering congestion to the point of impeding evacuation in the event of a hurricane. Folks, that ship has sailed. Frankly, the suggestion of incorporation appears to me to be a gross over reaction to Cape Coral's actions.

Anyway, I visited the GPICA website to read the consultant's report on incorporation. What follows are some thoughts I came away with after reading the report.

1. The consultant who wrote the report is the former mayor of Cape Coral and he has written about a dozen such "incorporation" reports for various municipalities surrounding Fort Myers. So, this is his bailiwick.

2. Much of the report is "boilerplate" but does conclude with some useful tables of income and expenses forecasted for the new municipality over the course of five fiscal years starting with fiscal year 2019 and ending with fiscal year 2023. Sources of income are State revenue sharing, franchise fees, communication service fees, interest earnings, business tax receipts and real estate taxes. Expenses are the usual costs associated with running a small government but do not include new infrastructure costs like taking care of roads, sewer and sewer treatment, schools and the like. What I found most interesting was the projection of cumulative reserves (savings) by the end of 2023. Under the worst case scenario, the reserves would be $3.057 million and under the best case scenario the reserves total $4.054 million. Sure. A new municipality with all the unforeseen expenses is going to be able to save money so that it has millions of dollars in reserve. And it's not going to cost you, the residents, any more than what you are now paying. If you believe that, I can get you a really good buy on an iceberg! Kiss your homestead exemption goodbye and watch the restriction on incremental increases to property taxes brought about by the "Save Our Homes" movement disappear in a flash. One way or another, it's going to cost Pine Island residents a lot more money. I strongly believe that today people have grown tired of that old social axion, "You get the benefit, but the other guy pays."

3. Keep in mind that Lee loses millions of dollars of income under this proposal. Do you think the county will be accommodating when the new municipality attempts to contract for services?

I'm against the proposal to incorporate. Given the suite of problems facing Pine Island now and in the future, the island needs to be aligned with a very large tax base. Going it alone won't cut it.

Lastly, I'd like to send a message to all the businesses that line the road through Matlacha: Stop Causing Problems for the Rest of Us.

First you gave us Jam City and now that Cape Coral wants to do something productive with property that it owns, you want to burden us with incorporation. Gimme a break!!

Bob Burkett




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