It’s SanibelSusan, reporting that there has been good progress this week in getting the islands back in order post-Irma – with more owners returning, more summer projects wrapping up, and more tree debris removed from the sides of local roadways
Post Irma Recovery
Today is the 18th consecutive day of roadside debris collection with three huge trucks and one smaller one working systematically from one end of the island to the other. The latest report from the City said that sweeps will continue until every roadway (public and private) have been serviced twice. So far 40,000 cubic yards of what has been collected has been converted to mulch, with the City finalizing plans to offer it to the community free.
Yesterday bright-and-early, I was excited to have a claw truck removing the huge pile in front of my home. This is a long tedious process with piles growing and utility lines often hampering efforts, but the crew was careful and efficient.
Because of the main debris collection site being on Island Inn Road, the City is working with F.I.S.H. to come up with an alternate route for the F.I.S.H. annual 10K fundraiser race which is scheduled for October 28. I got a call from Nicole McHale, 2017 F.I.S.H. Board of Directors Chair, asking if I could get Realtor® volunteers willing to work that morning, manning the route, particularly at driveways, to aide in runner and public safety. The call is out, with plenty of us already volunteering.
A little advice to those not back on-island yet, bring patience. Those looking for pressure/window washing contractors and screen repairmen will likely have a wait. I’ve heard that screening material now is in short supply, compounding the delay for some repairs. Last night, the local news reported that it may take months, if not years, for some cage work to be completed. Orange barricade fences are recommended where needed for safety.
I got a letter from my landscaper advising that they expect to have their customers’ properties back to normal by Christmas. So, we are thankful that island damage was minimal and look forward, with patience, to a warm and wonderful fall and winter season.
Sanibel Approves Budget; Irma Plays Big Role
Sanibel City Council met yesterday, below is the article posted this morning at “Santiva-Chronicle” on-line:
“Sanibel will operate on a budget lower than last year in 2018 and it will include expenses from Hurricane Irma, higher beach parking rates and a 15% increase in the cost of a membership at the Recreation Center.
“The City Council gave final approval to the 2018 fiscal year budget at a special budget meeting at City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 5. Most of the budget details had been finalized in the council’s regular meeting and budget hearing on Oct. 3 and Thursday’s meeting was a formality.
“The city’s final approved budget total for fiscal 2018 is $60,033,596. It was prepared based on a millage rate of 1.9139, which is the same as last year.
“By everyone’s assessment, the City of Sanibel performed well before, during and after Hurricane Irma, which came through on Sept. 10. The massive post-Irma cleanup has been orderly, but it still goes on and it hasn’t come without a cost.
“Irma caused Sanibel to dip into its 2017 disaster relief money and that is reflected in the new budget’s beginning fund balance. The disaster reserves haven’t been restored to the 2017 level and the city anticipates that state and federal reimbursements might be a long process. The reserve for disasters is budgeted to be reduced from $4.5 million to $3.7 million due to Hurricane Irma recovery expenses.
“The budget hit from Irma is a one-time occurrence, but the city’s budget woes involving beach parking and the Recreation Center are lingering problems. The council addressed both in the meetings leading up to the final budget approval session.
“The deficit in the beach parking fund now sits at $1.8 million. At its regular meeting on Oct. 3, the council on a 4-1 vote raised the hourly beach parking fee from $4 to $5, raised the B decal for non-resident parking from $99 to $124 and the BC decal for non-resident parking with a boat from $198 to $248. The increase goes into effect Nov. 15.
“The gap to make ends meet for the Recreation Center in the tentative 2018 budget was $384,000. The cost of classes at the Recreation Center will not increase, but much is coming under the knife and membership fees are going up 15% following action by the council at the Tuesday budget meeting an in an emergency meeting Thursday just prior to the final budget hearing.
“Several citizens appeared at the Tuesday budget hearing and they were relieved when Mayor Kevin Ruane said at the top of the meeting that class prices at the Rec Center will not go up. None of them complained at the 15% increase the council arrived at after discussion.
“Ruane presented figures showing that the 15% increase will offset $105,000. He also gave figures for 5% ($35,000), 10% ($70,000), 20% ($140,000) and 25% ($175,000). Several times over the past few years Ruane has said that he believes the cost of a membership is a value not offered in other communities. Councilman Jason Maughan picked up on that theme at the Tuesday budget meeting. “We are below one-half where everyone else is,” Maughan said. “I say we raise it 25% and call it a day.” “Is there a sweet spot?” Councilman Chauncey Goss asked. Recreation Department Director Andrea Miller suggested that 10 to 15% would be a good compromise. The council decided on 15% by unanimous vote.
“The second reading and public hearing would have occurred at the Nov. 7 council meeting, but that was moved up to the emergency meeting Thursday, where it passed on a unanimous vote. Since it was an emergency action, the council is required to approve the increase through the normal process in the coming months. The effort to bring the Recreation Center back to financial fitness will also include cuts totaling $76,000 in operating expenses and $156,000 in staff reductions.
“The 2018 final budget adopted Thursday is 3.9% lower than the 2017 adopted budget of $62,468,100 and 8.43% lower than the 2017 amended budget of $65,302,567.
“While the millage rate remains the same as 2017, it will raise more tax dollars. Sanibel’s taxable property value for fiscal 2018 was assessed by the Lee County Property Appraiser at $5.05 billion, which is 6.17% higher than the final posted value in 2017.
“Ruane said Thursday that had it not been for Irma, the city could have gone to the rolled-back millage rate of 1.8132. All of the budget proceedings were to have taken place in September, but were pushed back to October by the passage of Hurricane Irma.”
Photo above taken this afternoon at the beach in front of West Wind Inn. The beach is narrow and the water still churned up from recent rain and wind, but the water looks pretty typical for post-storm.
I had lunch yesterday with a Realtor® pal often involved in continued efforts locally to improve water quality. Many of you have seen the aerial photos showing the discolored water in the bay now. That really does happen whenever there is a big rainfall and dead vegetation is churned up, particularly in mangrove area. Now, exacerbated with Lake Okeechobee releases. According to this week’s report on www.MySanibel.com:
“As of October 2, 2017, the elevation of Lake Okeechobee was 16.47 feet. Click here to see the Current Level of Lake Okeechobee . The Lake is currently within the Top of the High Sub-band of the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS2008). The Lake level is currently 0.71 feet HIGHER than it was at this time last year and approximately 1.71 feet HIGHER than it was in 2015.
“Heavy rainfall associated with Hurricane Irma resulted in Lake Okeechobee levels rising dramatically during the past three weeks. This prompted the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin regulatory releases to the estuaries. Click here for links to weekly Caloosahatchee Conditions Reports.
“During this past week, flows at the Franklin Lock averaged 10,497 cfs, with approximately 57% of the flow coming from Lake Okeechobee. Average flows are currently more than three and half times the high-flow ecological harm threshold of 2,800 cfs establish for the estuary, resulting in very poor salinity levels throughout the estuary.
“Water clarity in San Carlos Bay and along Sanibel’s beaches are being impacted by runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed and discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Click here to see an aerial of the current water conditions at Lighthouse Beach Park.”
As my lunch friend said, it is probably inevitable that there will be a bloom of red tide this winter, if not sooner. Please stay involved in efforts to improve water quality. Red tide is a natural phenomenon, but it can be limited/prevented.\
Trump Signs NFIP Extension Into Law
On September 8, President Trump signed a 3-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that was due to expire on September 30. The signed legislation also authorized $15.25 billion in emergency funding for disaster relief and rebuilding that includes $7.8 billion for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The program now will remain in effect until December 8. The NFIP provides flood insurance to 5 million homeowners nationwide. Lenders require flood insurance in order to close on mortgage financing if the home is in a flood zone.
The National Association of Realtors® supports the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, H.R. 2874, which passed the House Financial Services Committee a few weeks ago. The bill would reauthorize the program for five years, encourage private insurers to enter the market, cap annual insurance premiums at $10,000, and grandfather existing rates for certain homes that are already covered and in compliance with building standards. It also would make money available for owners to elevate their homes or take other flooding precautions and enable communities to use flood mapping techniques that are more accurate than the government’s. The bill would make a number of other reforms, including improvements to the processes for owners who file a claim or want to submit an appeal. (For updates, go to www.floodsmart.gov )
36th Annual Taste of the Islands
C.R.O.W.’s (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlfe) 36th Annual Taste of the Islands will be held Sunday, November 12, at the Sanibel Community Park (across the street from SanibelSusan Realty). Gates open at 12 p.m. and close at 5 p.m. The event features live music and showcases Sanibel and Captiva Islands’ vibrant and diverse restaurant community. New this year, guests can meet CROW’s Animal Ambassadors in the Sanibel Community House.
Live entertainment will be provided by the LCEC Killa-Watts. This unique musical group started as a fundraiser a few years ago and has grown, benefiting many causes throughout the Southwest Florida community. The core Killa-Watts members have been true to the mission of making music, having some fun, and helping those in need by sharing their talent at little, or no cost to help raise funds for worthy causes. They have opened for Lee Greenwood for a Veterans fundraiser, played dozens of United Way and Chamber of Commerce events, and supported efforts to fight Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and many other worthy causes.
Admission to Taste of the Islands is $7 and children younger than 12 years of age are free. Guests purchase CROW Bucks to get their “tastes” from participating restaurants. Item prices range from one to six CROW Bucks. Admissions and CROW Bucks are available for purchase at the event and in advance through CROW’s website (click here to buy online) and can be picked up at the Will Call booth at Taste of the Islands. Proceeds from Taste of the Islands ensure CROW’s continued success in providing the highest quality care and treatment of injured, ill and orphaned wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care. Funds also support public educational exhibits in the Visitor Education Center. Healthy wildlife means a healthy environment for all of us. For more information about the 36th Taste of the Islands, please visit http://www.crowclinic.org/articles/36th-taste-of-the-islands.
SanibelSusan Realty Scoop
Not a lot of island real estate action this week, but we did get a few inquiries from Sellers thinking about listing for “season” and the roadways are getting busier, indicating they “are back” and inventory may increase.
Committee assignments for 2018 at Florida Realtors® came out this week. It looks like the old gal isn’t going to be retiring anytime soon. Committee work yields good business connections, so I am happy to serve on the state leadership team again next year. The Mid-Winter Business Meetings are the end of January, with my five committees all during a 2-day window, so it will be a quick trip to Orlando for me then. The other committee obligation in Orlando is during the annual governance meetings in August (that sure seems like a long way off, and appreciated that it’s in what’s typically a slow time here).
We are hopeful that the island will be busy this weekend with some folks celebrating a 3-day Columbus Day holiday. We’ll be working.
Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®
No Association of Realtors® Caravan this week. The every-other-week schedule was revised to skip two weeks because of the Association’s annual meeting at the end of October. Next Thursday, we will have our new home listing in Gumbo Limbo on Caravan.
The action posted since last Friday in the Sanibel/Captiva Multiple Listing Service is below.
Sanibel & Captiva Multiple Listing Service Activity September 29-October 6, 2017
3 new listings: Lighthouse Point #217 3/2 $499K; Blind Pass #B207 2/2.5 $499,997; Plantation Village #312 3/2.5 $1.79M.
5 price changes: Blind Pass #E205 2/2.5 now $409K, Loggerhead Cay #463 2/2 now $519K, Snug Harbor #312 3/2 now $699K, Sand Pointe #215 2/2 now $719K, High Tide #C101 now $995K.
1 new sale: Sundial West #H406 listed at $789K.
3 closed sales: Sanibel Moorings #931 2/2 $490K, 1311 Sand Castle Rd 3/2 $750K, Royale Tern #103 3/3.5 $1.43M.
5 new listings: 9448 Begonia Ct 3/2.5 $699K (our listing), 585 Lake Murex Cir 3/2 $725K, 707 Cardium St 3/2 $899K, 6123 Starling Way 3/2.5 $1.2999M, 2915 Wulfert Rd 5/6.5 $3.4M.
1 price change: 8995 Mockingbird Dr 3/3.5 now $949K.
2 new sales: 655 Anchor Dr 3/3 listed at $749K, 2628 Coconut Dr 3/2.5 listed at $1.35M.
4 closed sales: 2150 Egret Cir 3/2 $505K, 9455 Beverly Ln 2/2 $525K, 587 Sea Oats Dr 3/2 $660K, 3364 Twin Lakes Ln 3/2 $670K.
1 new listing: 6411 Pine Ave $363.5K.
No price changes.
2 new sales: 2501 Wulfert Rd listed at $183.9K, 1026 Fish Crow Rd listed at $395K.
No closed sales.
3 new listings: Beach Villas #2523 1/1 $539K, Sunset Captiva #204 2/2 $1.249M, Beach Homes #18 4/3 $3.445M.
No price changes or new sales.
2 closed sales: Bayside Villas #4118 1/2 $337K, Lands End Village #1614 3/3 $2.3M.
No new listings.
1 price change: 15831 Captiva Dr 2/2.5 now $4.975M.
No new or closed sales.
Nothing to report.
This representation is based in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® Multiple Listing Service. Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. The information provided represents the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.
Enjoy your weekend!
Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan