One belt-tightening possibility contained in a report this past week to Naples City Council really causes me heartburn.
No, it has nothing to do with charging a fee to those who want to stroll out on the Naples Pier or those who want to fish from it.
The pier fee “consideration” grabbed the headlines when City Hall released “Strategies to Balance the Budget,” a PowerPoint presentation that will be viewed and discussed by City Council at a Monday workshop.
But, such a fee is unlikely at best. The mayor doesn’t like it, the assistant city manager isn’t recommending it and the only Florida city we could find that has tried charging such a fee has stopped.
Venice, located just south of Sarasota, suspended its pier fee a few years back. There is a fee to use the public fishing piers on either side of Tampa Bay. The piers are the original approaches to the ill-fated bridge that was replaced by the Sunshine Skyway. However, that fee is per vehicle. You have to pay if want to drive your car or truck out on the concrete piers. There’s no charge to walk out on the piers.
No, a Naples Pier usage fee looks to be DOA.
What worries me most is another “consideration” contained in the “Strategies to Balance the Budget” presentation. It would save money by eliminating public meeting broadcasts on cable television and the city’s website.
Currently, the city’s public access channel airs City Council, Planning Advisory Board and other public meetings live on Comcast cable systems. Many of the meetings are re-aired during the week, giving the public a number of chances to witness the proceedings. Video of the live meetings also is available on the city’s website, yet another opportunity for the public to witness public meetings.
If you believe in the people’s right to know and that the public’s business should be done in the sunshine, you have to love the regular broadcasts of meetings from City Hall and you would be dismayed if City Council doesn’t scratch that consideration more quickly than they are likely to scratch the pier fee.
To be clear, no one at City Hall is recommending the elimination of the broadcasts. But, it is on a short list of possible ways to save money when City Council makes some hard decisions this summer on property tax rates, services and jobs.
The short list also contains the pier fee, as well as a fee to park at city-owned garages during special events and a cut in trash pickup. Money would be saved by picking up garbage once a week instead of twice a week.
The City Council workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. If you can’t make it to City Hall, you can watch it — thankfully — on television or the city’s website.
(As an aside, no decisions will be made Monday. The meeting is only a workshop session. The “Strategies to Balance the Budget” presentation is simply informational. No firm decisions can be made on the 2010-2011 city budget until City Hall receives a preliminary estimate from the county listing the value of assessed property within the city limits. That report is due June 1.)
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A few months back I wrote a column about a speeding ticket I received from the state of Arizona. At the time, my son, who lives in Phoenix, was driving a car registered to me.
The ticket came in the mail accompanied by photos clearly showing my car, the license plate and the driver.
Speed cameras policing highways in metro Phoenix claimed the vehicle was going 60 mph in a 45-mph zone.
I knew about red-light cameras because of the program instituted in Collier County, but these speed cameras were news to me — and, apparently, my son.
Well, they soon will be old news.
According to the Associated Press, the Arizona Department of Public Safety sent a letter this past week to the private company that operates the speed cameras saying the service is no longer needed. The 36 fixed cameras along highways in Phoenix will be turned off on July 16.
Arizona, which seems eager to experiment with the law, decided that cameras for red-light enforcement is OK, but not for speed enforcement.
Lewis is editor of the Daily News. His e-mail address is email@example.com