Posted on November 13, 2023
Town of Fort Myers Beach Manager Andy Hyatt and Town of Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers recently visited state legislators in Tallahassee to provide a list of legislative priorities on behalf of the town, requesting more than $50 million from the State Legislature.
Among the requests submitted to the state legislators is $15 million for canal dredging maintenance, $12.5 million for a new town hall, $10 million to rebuild and repair stormwater systems, $8 million for additional beach renourishment and $7.5 million to cover a loss of revenue over two years,
The town is also seeking a time extension to repay the $11.9 million emergency bridge loan awarded by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year. The loan was given to the town at a zero percent interest for the first year, though the interest balloons to 10% after the first year. State legislators had discussed potentially forgiving the loan or not charging the town the interest. At the state delegation meeting last week, Lee County and Sanibel officials also requested payment extensions on the loans they received from the state. Sanibel Mayor Richard Johnson requested a 10-year extension for the city’s loan.
In its request for a time extension to repay the loan, the Town of Fort Myers Beach provided a request to state legislators stating that the town is “hesitant to use these funds because we are not in a position to repay it.”
The town’s 2023-24 budget approved by the town council utilizes $3.47 million of the $11.9 million loan to help balance the budget and avoid raising taxes.
Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers said the representatives he spoke with “are committed to helping Fort Myers Beach rebuild. We will continue to meet with and have an open dialogue with them as we move forward with this year’s session.”
Allers briefly referenced the priorities in a short statement at the state legislative delegation meeting this past week in Fort Myers in which he thanked the state legislators for their assistance. Municipal leaders and nonprofit representatives were limited to 90 seconds of speaking time by the state legislators to discuss priorities they would like the delegation to meet on. Seven state legislators whose districts cover Lee County were in attendance at the meeting.
Messages left with Rep. Adam Botana (R-80) and Sen. Jonathan Martin (R-33), who represent Fort Myers Beach in the state legislature, were not returned as of press time.
Town officials estimate that the town’s revenues have dropped by 42% including $1.8 million in lost property tax receipts due to a loss of approximately $2.7 billion in assessed property value since Hurricane Ian and a $1.6 million loss in parking ticket revenue.
The town’s $12.5 million request for a new town hall is about half the amount of its request to state legislators earlier this year. The town is working on a plan to construct a new temporary town hall trailer to replace its current trailers at the former Topps lot for a period of three to four years. The state began passing on the costs of those trailers to the town in July, with monthly bills of approximately $41,00.
The town estimated the total cost of repairing its stormwater systems to be $42 million.
Hurricane Ian pushed so much sand into the town’s canals that officials say canal depths have become shallow and made navigation difficult. The estimated cost of a canal dredging would be about $46 million.
While the town has received $8 million from the state for beach renourishment, more help for the town’s beaches is needed, according to the town’s legislative priorities handout. The town cited the loss of sand from the emergency berm after Hurricane Idalia and say the loss of beach to both hurricanes has caused periodic washouts, the loss of vegetation and an estimated two to three feet of elevation.