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Town Hall referendum question for residents

January 11, 2012
By Terry Stewart , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer



On Jan. 31, 2012, the Presidential Primary ballot in the Town of Fort Myers Beach will also include a referendum ballot question for the voters of the Town. Referendum questions are placed on election ballots in order to give the entire electorate the opportunity to express their wishes, either for or against a particular proposal.

The question for this referendum is related to the possible purchase and/or construction of a town-owned Town Hall facility. The official ballot question can be found at the end of this message.

The current Town Hall facility is located at 2523 Estero Blvd. The Town does not own the property and leases a portion of the site for its operations. It is not just used for office space but also provides space for some storage and for town vehicles and equipment. The location has served as the Town Hall site since shortly after the Town was incorporated. In a little over 15 years of leasing the site, the cost totals just a bit over $1.5 million.

At the birth of the Town it made very good sense to lease instead of purchasing a property. Back then, we had no credit history, very little borrowing capacity, no available funds for a down payment even if borrowing had been an option, and we certainly did not have the funds for an outright cash purchase. Today, we are in a far different and more positive position both financially and with our credit history and borrowing capacity. This enables the Town to consider the option of acquiring a Town owned facility and to invest the money now spent for leasing on mortgage payments instead.

Leasing property has been an acceptable option for the Town thus far, but there could be concerns for the future. We have enjoyed a good relationship with the owners of our facility and have not been forced to find another location. However, there is no guarantee that the property will always be available for lease to the Town. Consider that our island community is small in size and there are limited commercial type properties here. In addition very few of those have the size, parking, etc, to accommodate our operations. Were the Town to be compelled to find a new site at the end of a lease, we would be in a very difficult and somewhat untenable situation.

The Town Council for the Town of Fort Myers Beach has elected to present the question to you, the voters of our Town. The referendum gives you the right to voice your preference as to whether your Town government should invest in a property asset it will own and fully control for the future.

In order to help provide you with information you will need in making this decision, the Town Council will host two separate Town Hall meetings with this issue and its referendum question as the sole topic for discussion. We hope that you will attend to become more fully informed and to have your questions answered. The first meeting was held Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. The second will be held Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at 6:30 PM.

The referendum question as it will appear on the January 31, 2012 ballot.

Official Ballot

Town of Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Bond Referendum Election

Jan. 31, 2012

Approval of Bonds to Finance the Acquisition and Construction of a Town Hall.

Shall the Town of Fort Myers Beach issue bonds, including general obligation bonds, maturing not later than 30 years from their issuance, in a principle amount not exceeding $7,000,000, bearing interest at market rates, to finance the acquisition and construction of a Town Hall, which bonds may be secured by and payable from ad valorem property taxes levied without limit on all taxable property within the town in addition to other available revenue sources?

Instructions to Voters:_____Yes For Bonds

______No Against Bonds



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