Cape Coral approves assessments for more homeowners to hook into city water and sewer
The Cape Coral City Council recently approved assessments for the Utilities Expansion Project and offered three payment options, ranging from immediate payment to stretching out the bills over 30 years, with an estimated interest of 6.5 percent.
The price for each homeowner? About $35,000.
Known as the UEP, Cape Coral’s project has converted nearly all homes south of Pine Island Road to city water and sewer.
Now the UEP is moving to a zone in the Northwest Cape where about 3,000 homes will have to convert septic tanks and water wells.
Kara Rogers said she owns a home in the new zone and is reviewing payment options.
“We bought at the height of the market, so we already have a high mortgage, and then the way that they have the amortization set up, you're paying the highest payments in the beginning," Rogers said.
Council Member Tom Hayden said homeowners have to connect to city sewer and water to allow the city to grow.
"The South Florida Water Management District just told us that if we don't continue to execute a plan that puts everybody in utilities, they could enact a building moratorium on us because of the amount of stress that's being placed on the shallower aquifers,” Hayden said.
Shantell Fonock owns a home in the northwest zone, and said now is not the time for new costs for owners.
"Who can afford that? Put six-hundred dollars, an extra six hundred on their mortgage every month for a year and still be OK," she asked. "Two-thirds of the city has tarps on their roofs, and they're fighting with their insurance. companies, and you want to charge us extra money right now? Just not now."
Council members are planning to reach out to state and federal lobbyists to see whether government programs could help cover the costs.
"It's important for the community to continue with this project because of what it means for our future and getting people off of wells and off of septic systems," councilmember Tom Hayden said.
The city is planning to expand utility hook-ups to other parts of the Northwest Cape.
This story was produced by the FGCU Journalism program's Democracy Watch course. Veronica Amador can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org