FORT MYERS, Fla. — Fort Myers' Mayor Kevin Anderson explained why the current fiscal year budget that was approved back in September might change. The budget was approved and went into effect before Hurricane Ian.
"We need to make sure that we have the funding available to provide the basic level of services,” Mayor Anderson said.
In a sit-down interview, the mayor explained the city doesn't necessarily want to wait for the FEMA reimbursement.
Monday, November 7th, the city council will meet at city hall to try and ease what Mayor Anderson called "financial pressure", the Hurricane caused. He said to do this the city must allocate the money wisely.
“Our community has to recover," Mayor Anderson explained. "It has to continue to thrive and grow we have to move forward.”
Was the reasoning Mayor Anderson gave regarding why the city wants $40,000 to go to the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center Fund Reserves, which is for local entrepreneurs to try and help grow businesses.
“We need businesses, we need jobs for people,” Mayor Anderson said.
Paying city employees is another sense of urgency.
“Employees that worked during the storm get emergency pay, which is significantly higher than a straight salary,” explained Mayor Anderson.
During the council's October 17th meeting many city employees including police officers pushed the city for their emergency pay. One pregnant Fort Myers Police Officer said she loves serving her community but when the department isn't being compensated the way they should she said it's difficult to have that morale still.
The council unanimously approved the pay.
“The employees aren’t going to wait on their pay from FEMA, they want to be paid accordingly," Mayor Anderson said. "As they should be. So that was an expenditure that wasn’t in the budget.”
Mayor Anderson also explained that different capitol projects will have to wait and the travel budget will be kept to a minimum to ensure Fort Myers is spending money on what is needed now like debris pick up and water management.
When asked about the reserves, Mayor Anderson said to think of it like a personal savings account or a rainy day fund—-where you don't want to dip into it more than you have to.
“We will be reimbursed by FEMA, but that is a lengthy process, we still have outstanding reimbursements from Hurricane Ian," Mayor Anderson said.
He also stated that hurricane Ian will not cause taxes to increase, saying that wouldn't even be legal.
The meeting is on November 7th, 2022 at city hall located in downtown Fort Myers.