Ex-Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp of Cape Coral and Collier County Public Schools Superintendent Kamela Patton are guests on this week’s “Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle’’ program Sunday morning at 10 on ABC7. Kottkamp, now CEO of VR Laboratories, is asked when will Lee County taxpayers will see jobs created from their $5 million VR investment, which is almost all gone and tangled in litigation with a contractor? Patton discusses pay for principals and teachers at tougher schools and a critic who says schools should pay down debt rather than shift taxes in a Nov. 6 referendum.
* Video highlights will be available Monday at naplesnews.com/newsmakers
Here are excerpts:
Lytle: There was a guest commentary in the Daily News from Duke Vasey, a credible, longtime fiscal watchdog in Collier County. He took your tax referendum to task that’s coming up on the Nov. 6 ballot that asks for a continuation of exchanging a quarter mil of your capital budget and plowing it into ... moving it into operations for salaries and things like that. He says that instead that money should be used for paying down the debt. Let’s tighten our belts; let’s have fewer administrators; let’s go at it that way rather than do this tax shift extension.
Patton: First off, there’s a perception from some people that oh, we’re not paying debt. We pay $45 million worth of debt every year, even in these last four years when we’ve had that tax shift. So we do pay down debt.
Could you pay it down higher? Absolutely.
But at what price?
Like a general household, we pay our mortgage like a family does. But during hard times do you pay down a mortgage and have no money left over for your kids’ food and clothing? Or do you pay what you need to pay and still keep funds for other things? Right now the priorities are our students and their opportunities.
We also cut $16 million from our budget last year and $100 million during the previous five years.
Kottkamp: Let me tell you, Jeff, there is not going to be a bottling assembly line like this anywhere in the world.
Lytle: Well, you don’t have any bottling line at all right now. Who’s going to pay if this thing fails?
Kottkamp: Who’s going to pay if it fails? We’re going to win; we’re going to succeed. We are going to push through this. You know, this isn’t the first time that somebody had a project where they got into a dispute with their contractor, and it won’t be the last. But that’s not going to stop us from pushing forward and making sure that we have an enormously successful venture.