In front of a packed house Monday night, many in attendance angered at the thought of more spending, the Cape Coral City Council passed a measure to purchase $564,000 worth of new vehicles during its regular council meeting at City Hall, which lasted into the wee hours of the morning.
The city will buy about a dozen new police cars, as well as a brush truck and a pothole truck.
The purchases burned up a huge chunk of the $1.3 million allocated for purchasing new vehicles. After purchasing a $425,000 fire truck early in the fiscal year, the city has less than $400,000 left.
Some of the residents, who were there to debate the public service tax, had their ideas on purchasing new vehicles.
"I haven't bought new equipment in a long time. I'm doing what I have to do," resident Dan Shepard said. "My staff is no different than yours. They have a wish list, and you need to decide what you need."
Police Chief Jay Murphy provided a different take.
"We're the 10th-largest city in the state and we're borrowing a fire apparatus to fight a brush fire," Murphy said. "We didn't purchase cars for three years."
Murphy said some savings can be had by the fact the new V6 Dodge Chargers get almost twice the mileage as the Ford Crown Victorians the department now uses.
Mayor John Sullivan also asked Murphy if he sought someone who could replace the engines and provide warranties on the work. Murphy said he hadn't found someone who could do the work, but would keep trying.
Council passed the measure unanimously.
In other business, council held two quasi-judicial hearings late into the night. One of them was a proposed change in the zoning map from single-family to multi-family that would have created 54 multi-family units on Southwest 20th Avenue where 14 single-family units once sat.
The change resulted in a match with the land use, which was changed in 2010.
Councilman John Carioscia made a motion to deny the measure, saying the neighbors who lived there expected single-family homes.
The motion failed 7-1, after which council voted to approve the zoning change 6-2, with Chris Chulakes-Leetz joining Carioscia in the no votes.
Another vote that promised to be a hotly contested one turned out to be not so, as council approved an ordinance to amend a planned development at Cape Christian Fellowship.
The plan granted a deviation to allow synthetic turf in a front yard and granted a special exception use to allow for a religious facility in a single-family residential zone.
The ordinance was originally protested by neighbors when plans called for a sound stage, which conceivably could have allowed bands of all kinds playing there, perhaps deep into the night.
When that was withdrawn, neighbors were more receptive, although there were still fears of the church becoming akin to the German American Club, which holds huge festival on a regular basis.
Council passed the measure 8-0.