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Fort Myers exploring business tax to help increase police presence downtown

Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 17:46:44-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After a week's worth of downtown Fort Myers safety improvement conversations, Mayor Kevin Anderson said he is exploring the idea of a special taxing district to help cover increased police presence.

“I'm not opposed to approaching the downtown property owners and saying hey look, it's to your benefit to keep downtown safe, it's to all of our benefits,” said Anderson.

It is an approach sparked by a late-night downtown shooting on Aug. 14 that took over a Second Street parking lot.

On Tuesday, talks of a downtown business tax to increase security, according to Anderson would go primarily go to funding one goal.

“Probably a majority of it would go to increased police presence,” said Anderson.

The idea of a taxing district joins a long listof possible solutions to eliminate gun violence downtown.

Some of these options include police checkpoints, better lighting, and parking lot attendants for after 10 PM.

“Right now we are floating a lot of different ideas to address this situation,” said Anderson.

Mayor Anderson said a taxing district would be a temporary change if the city council and those in charge of paying it to give the green light.

“I don't see us just forcing this on the property owners I think this is a discussion we need to have,” said Anderson.

On Tuesday,immediate changes like security cameraswatched by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office have already been brought in.

People downtown told Fox 4 they would like to see more police downtown and are unsure if the cameras will stop future crimes from happening.

Anderson said the taxing district could help more Fort Myer's officers work downtown.

“What it will do is allow, I'm sure officers will be working overtime for this extra coverage because they are short-handed. we are looking at other plans of how do we attract more applicants to the police department,” said Anderson.

On Tuesday, Mayor Anderson said the city is already seriously discussing these ideas and despite not having a confirmed deadline, said he wants things implemented as soon as possible.