Water-Related News

Cape Coral considers leaving regional planning council

Cape Coral could be the first city to leave the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council.

City Council members discussed Monday whether they want to continue the city's participation in the organization, ultimately deciding they need more information before making a decision.

The regional planning council was established in 1973 to coordinate development among six counties from Sarasota to Collier.

Council unanimously approved paying $24,976 to the regional council Monday for the last two quarters of fiscal year 2017, pending a review of the bill by the city manager's office. Maureen Buice, a public information specialist for the city, said Thursday that the review was ongoing and that the dues had not been paid.

The city is behind on its dues, which are based on the city's population and are supposed to be paid each quarter. Margaret Wuerstle, executive director of the regional planning council, said the city owes an additional $38,356 for the first three quarters of this fiscal year.

Wuerstle said Cape Coral can stop paying its dues and stop attending meetings and that she would have to consult the organization's legal counsel to determine if the city would have to give a year's notice the way counties do.

Lee is the only county that established permanent seats for some of its cities over the years, including for Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Wuerstle said. The one free seat for Lee most recently went to Estero, because all other cities in the county were paying on their own, she said.