Cities of Fort Myers, Cape Coral say there are funds to stay afloat – for now

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

The City of Sanibel has already furloughed more than 50 people, and Tuesday, the mayors of Cape Coral and Fort Myers say they might have to consider cuts.

With many businesses across Southwest Florida shuttered, economic worries continue to grow with each passing day.

We asked Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello what his biggest concern was regarding the upcoming budget.

“First and foremost is always public safety; we want to make sure that we maintain our strong levels of public safety,” he said.

Tax revenue is down because of the COVID-19 pandemic but the mayor said the city has reserve funds that will keep all jobs in place and all services at full strength for the next three months.

After that, the city might have to increase property taxes.

“We have the opportunity, if need be, to adjust some of the percentages or the rates that we have now. So if we need to make up for some of the shortfall that we might experience. I’m hoping we won’t have to do that,” Coviello explained.

Across the bridge in Fort Myers, Mayor Randy Henderson said the city’s reserve fund will allow Fort Myers to delay any significant changes to city services, including police and fire.

“Make no mistake about it, this is going to be a challenging budget year,” Henderson said. “We are bracing for it. I think our reserve will help us weather through the first 60 days.”

After that, Henderson is hopeful the city will get bailout money from the federal stimulus, adding, “This is going to be a very serious downturn.”

But Coviello is banking on Cape Coral to take care of itself. “Last year we built close to 2,000 homes … that’s new tax dollars that may help to offset some of this revenue shortfall.”

Both mayors said all bets are off if a tropical storm or hurricane strikes Southwest Florida during this crisis.

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