On October 1st, the square footage fees restaurants pay the town of Fort Myers Beach will increase from $10.00 per square foot to $12.50 per square foot. That is, unless there’s a delay in the increase to help those business owners out.
Town Council members Jim Atterholdt and Dan Allers are trying to delay the increase, at least until season begins, to help the restaurants deal with the revenue losses they are experiencing due to the government mandated restrictions on their business. Mayor Ray Murphy doesn’t appear to be in favor of giving the businesses a break.
Town Councilman Dan Allers said due to COVID theses restaurants are paying for space now that they cannot use. “It would be a good gesture if the council would delay the increase, to show good faith that we’re all going through this together. To them that could be a ton of money. Several businesses expressed their concern to me about it.”
Councilman Jim Atterholdt was also hopeful that, following a season of Red Tide and then COVID-19, that there might be, at least, a small gesture that could be made to help out the businesses in Times Square.
It’s important to note that in 2018 Times Square businesses paid $6.38 per square foot. In October of 2019, the price was increased to $10.00 per square foot. Former town councilman Dennis Boback was pushing for a price of $25.00 per square foot before he was defeated in the last election.
Mayor Ray Murphy was last to speak on the topic at the August 5th council meeting, and said, “To be fair to the taxpayers of Fort Myers Beach, I have to take the other side here. I’m not going to debate this with you. Everyone’s always looking for a deal and I appreciate that. I’m a property manager myself. While these discussions are being held we can also look back to the history down there and how many years the fees were waived down there for that space and how many years subsequent to that, the businesses paid a below market rate on the price-per-square-foot on the space down there. I’m just putting that out there so the other side can be heard.”
It’s not clear where this is headed. After the Mayor’s statement the discussion ended.