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Friday, 05 August 2016 10:23

Guest Commentary

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Four years ago, Larry Kiker
ran for Lee County Commission
with a promise for " A Better Tomorrow".
Kiker was swept into office
with tremendous financial
support from Clewiston based U.S.
Sugar Corporation. So not only did
a powerful corporation outside Lee
County determine the outcome of a
local Lee County Commission race
but, they have an ally on the Lee
County Commission concerning
water policy issues. During Kiker's
tenure in office, water quality in
the Caloosahatchee and our coastal
estuaries has greatly deteriorated
resulting in harm to our tourism
and real estate based economy, environment
and public health. In his
disingenuous attempt to address
our dirty water crises, Kiker's news
paper commentaries and trips to
Washington D.C. alleged the need
for greater funding and involvement
from the Federal government.
The real heavy lifting
should be focused on Governor
Scott and the state legislature. For
it is the state that has jurisdiction
over water quality. It was the Governor
and state legislature that refused
to use Amendment 1 funds to
purchase land south of the lake to
store, treat and convey water to the
Everglades. And, it is the Governor
and state legislature, during the
2016 legislative session, that approved
a "Water Bill" that will all
but make it impossible to clean up
the dirty water by giving the sugar
industry safe harbor from being
held accountable in efforts to restore
Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee
and our coastal estuaries.
Kiker referred to the need
to discuss " the lack of water storage
within the Kissimmee River
Basin with the Senate Appropriation
Subcommittee", yet the overwhelming
need for water storage is
south, not north, of Lake Okeechobee
to store, treat and convey
water south to restore coastal estuaries,
rehydrate the Everglades,
recharge the Biscayne aquifer and
protect public and private wellfields
from salt water intrusion. In
referencing water storage north of
Lake Okeechobee, Kiker is working
off the same playbook as Big
Sugar, to redirect resources and attention
away from restoring a
flowway from Lake Okeechobee to
the Everglades. Kiker extols the
virtue of the County's Growth Increment
Funding mechanism to
keep up with pressing infrastructure
needs. Unfortunately, the strategy
is not adequately addressing
the impacts of population growth
and results in the residential tax
payers subsidizing capital construction
costs. Kiker and the majority
of the Lee County
Commission supported an 85% reduction
in impact fees costing the
county and school board precious
funding (approximately $50 million
over three years) for necessary
infrastructure. Impact fees are an
important source of revenue to ensure
that new development, not the
existing taxpayers, pay for the infrastructure
to accommodate
growth. Furthermore impact fees
equals jobs as the funds are used to
pay the labor workforce to build
roads, parks and schools. Kiker's
recent support of the Grand Resorts
on Fort Myers Beach not only led
to an state ethics investigation but
would have given away Cresent
Beach Park and jeopardized beach
front homeowners with a half-mile
sea wall that would have exacerbated
coastal beach erosion. It is
well documented that hardened
structures along a beach coastline
deflects wave energy downward,
resulting in scoring and loss of
beach sand. Furthermore, a regularly
scheduled beach renourishment
program to buffer the sea
wall would have proven extremely
costly to beach front homeowners.
In violation of the public
trust, Kiker and the majority of the
Board of County Commissioners
(BOCC) voted to raid the Conservation
2020 Trust Fund in the
2013-2014 and 2014-2015 fiscal
years, in excess of $40 million dollars,
to balance the budget. In the
2015-2016 fiscal year, the BOCC
shifted the 0.50 mils, designated
for Conservation 2020, to the General
Fund, effectively undermining
a uniquely successful program that
was designed to conserve our precious
land and water resources, enhance
property values, and provide
open space for public enjoyment
and quality of life. Lee County's
future is at a crossroad, and the
voters have a critical decision in
the Lee County Commission District
3 race to reject Kiker's failed
promises and policies and elect
Dick Anderson, a man genuinely
committed to representing the public
interest not the special interest.

Read 1463 times Last modified on Saturday, 27 August 2016 10:56

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