Lower taxes, better roads & environmental preservation

The Village of Estero has lowered its tax rate for the third consecutive year while continuing to maintain a healthy reserve and improving services for Estero residents. Village Council recently approved the budget for Fiscal Year 2018-2019, which runs from Oct.1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019. This budget demonstrates the Village’s commitment to budgetary conservatism, low taxes, environmental preservation, capital improvements and “government lite” management. These priorities reflect public sentiment voiced by Estero residents. As always, the Village welcomes new perspectives and opinions on these priorities.

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Highlights of the budget are as follows:

• Budgetary Conservatism: The Village now has 10 months, or $5.1 million, in operating reserves. This reserve serves as a “rainy day fund” for unexpected expenditures, such as disaster response.

• Low Taxes: The Village reduced its tax rate to 0.7750 mills, from 0.7798 mills, which represents \the lowest tax rate in Southwest Florida.

• Environmental Preservation: The Village has committed to, and budgeted for, the purchase of 62 acres of environmentally sensitive property on the northeast corner of Corkscrew Road and South Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41). This purchase will ensure public access to the Estero River, protect heritage trees on site, and allow for the creation of nature trails. This purchase is budgeted at $26 million, with an option to pay off in seven years.

• Capital Improvements: Funds were approved to repave, landscape and add pedestrian/bike paths to Estero Parkway, to improve the Walgreens exit on Williams Road, and to add a turn lane for Estero High School. Outside funding was secured to enhance median landscaping on U.S. 41. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is scheduled to improve the interchange of I-75 at Corkscrew Road, and Lee County has allocated funds to design a widening of Corkscrew Road, from two lanes to four lanes (although a construction deadline has not been set). All of these projects will be started in 2019.

• Government Lite: The Village has budgeted for an additional two part-time employees in 2019, and no additional full-time employees. The number of full-time staff is expected to remain at eight, which represents the lowest staff size in Southwest Florida.

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