City Council discussed bringing back the city's streetlight program - possibly by creating lighting districts funded with assessments - at a special meeting Wednesday.
The discussion met with more resistance from council than the earlier LCEC franchise agreement versus forming a Municipal Electric Utility.
City Business Manager Michael Ilczyszyn made the presentation to council regarding forming streetlight districts as well as a mechanism to fund the program, a special assessment.
"Streetlights are like a lollipop for city government," said Ilczyszyn. "People call the city and want a streetlight. They see it every time they go by it and they let us know when it goes out so we can fix it."
Ilczyszyn defined the difference between a security light and a streetlight. Security lights are put up and paid for by the resident or business requesting one. Streetlights are funded by government.
Cape Coral currently pays for the city's existing 14,638 streetlights with a General Fund expenditure of $2.5 million a year. It takes a millage rate equivalent of 0.2730 to fund streetlights each year. The streetlight program was suspended in 2009 during the economic downturn, but now the city sees a need to bring it back for safety reasons.
"Each district determines the level of service," said Ilczyszyn. "Residents in northwest Cape establish what they want and pay for it, but don't pay for service in southwest Cape. This takes the program out of the political arena and puts it with the people to determine what they want."
Ilczyszyn outlined where the city's streetlights are located. Southeast Cape has 500 streetlights per square mile, which is at the saturation point, he said. Southwest Cape has about 200 per square mile. Northwest and northeast sections have less density than that.
Council members John Carioscia, Rick Williams, Derrick Donnell and Rana Erbrick all said they were not on board with the reinstatement at this time, and needed more information to go forward.
"I have a problem with assessments in general," said Williams. "We've got the Public Service Tax and the Fire Services Assessment coming in right now. The first reaction of the public is going to be, 'Ahh, another assessment.' I'm not totally against the program, but I'm not comfortable with it, either."
Donnell preferred to maintain the status quo for now.
"For me, it's way too early for this. I'm not on board for another assessment."
Council did, however, like the suggestion of reductions in the millage rate to offset any streetlight funding program.
Ilczyszyn will continue to gather the additional information requested by council and draw up a document delaying implementation several years as council suggested.