News for Collier Voters – July/August 2019

Top stories: Next year’s tax rates and budgets to be adopted this month; Collier County reviews its rural growth plan amid looming disagreements; commissioners approve a new 78-unit affordable housing project and borrowing $29 million to buy Golden Gate golf course; and Commissioner Saunders has big plans for Golden Gate. Also in this post: news about Collier’s state senator and representatives. For this and more for Collier voters, read on…

It’s Tax Time!

PHOTO: Flickr

While most of us don’t start thinking about taxes until the end of the year, our local officials began last spring when they adopted policy guidelines to be used in developing the FY2019-20 budgets. Why? Because how much comes in in taxes determines how much they’ll be able to spend.

During budget workshops over the summer, they discussed and debated the budgets proposed by staff and adopted maximum tax rates that may be levied.

Then the Property Appraiser applied those rates to the assessed value of each property and mailed out Notices of Proposed Taxes (Truth In Millage or TRIM notices) which tell property owners how much their taxes would be if those maximum millages were adopted. Your TRIM notice also shows the current year’s tax rates as well as the rates that would result in your taxes being maintained at the current year’s level (called the rolled-back rate).

For the coming fiscal year, Collier County and the City of Marco Island proposed revenue-neutral millage rates. The City of Naples and the Collier County School District proposed maximum millage rates greater than the rolled-back rates. For a good explanation of how this all works, see Marco City Councilor Jared Grifoni’s commentary “Rollback rate means no tax increase for Marco Island”. Naples Daily News – 7/24/19

That brings us to today. If you’re a property owner, you have until September 13 to appeal your property’s assessed value (details here). In the coming weeks, you can also weigh in at the upcoming budget hearing(s) before the final millage rates and budgets are adopted:

  • September 10 – Collier Schools (details here and here)
  • September 16 – City of Marco Island (details here and here)
  • September 18 – City of Naples (details here and here)
  • September 19 – Collier County (details here and here).

Collier County Government

Hurricane Preparedness

PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Kudos to our county government for its greatly improved hurricane preparedness and communications about the possible threat of Hurricane Dorian. Elected officials and government staff used email and social media to keep us informed. According to the first of three email updates I received from my Commissioner, Penny Taylor, in the time since Hurricane Irma, the county added twenty generators to the lift stations, increased its supply of portable generators and added towable generators that can be moved from site to site. While Dorian was still a tropical storm, crews began checking the county’s swale system and drainage inlets. If you were here for Irma, you know what a difference these preparations would have made if Dorian had affected Collier County.

Civic Engagement

Kudos also to Commissioner Taylor, County Manager Leo Ochs and their staffs for adopting a new format for County Commission meeting agendas. The change makes it easier to know when Commissioners will be considering an action that affects you. You can weigh in by attending meetings in person or contacting your commissioner in advance.

Growth & Development

The Rural Lands Stewardship Program established nearly two decades ago is under review by county officials, and the stakes are high: only 10 percent of county land remains available for new development.

At the same time, commissioners seem to continually be presented with proposed new developments to review.

PHOTO: Flickr

Meanwhile, the saga of the Golden Gate golf course property continues. Owners wanted to turn it into a housing development last year but nearby homeowners objected. Ultimately, the County decided to buy it, but what it will be used for is undecided. The latest:

Also of note:

The Environment

It’s beach renourishment and dredging time again.

PHOTO: Instagram

Efforts to keep up with pollution and algae are ongoing.

Health, Safety & Quality of LIfe

Local government is responsible for maintaining and improving the health, safety and welfare of its residents. Here are some of the issues considered by Collier County government the last two months:


Naples City Council


Marco Island City Council

Marco Island’s troublesome personnel issues continued:

In other news:


Collier County School Board

The School Board continues to be pleased with its Superintendent’s performance:

PHOTO: Sandy Parker

The School District resolved differences with the Mason Classical Academy public charter school in an 11-hour mediation meeting.

With 2020 state legislative committee meetings about to begin, the School Board completed its annual winnowing down of possible priorities. Its “guiding principles” were an increase in base student allocation, one year lead time between rolling out new programs and a push for continued local control.


Clerk of Circuit Court & Comptroller

  • Collier County scammed out of $184K in phishing scheme that investigators say originated abroad. County funds in December 2018 were the target of what the FBI identifies as a “Business Email Compromise,” county and clerk of court’s office officials said in a joint statement. There was no data or security breach, the target was not the Clerk of Courts or county’s computer system, the perpetrators did not gain access to email accounts or networks, no ransomware or malware attacks occurred, and the money was recovered from insurance carriers.  Naples Daily News – 8/19/19

Sheriff


Supervisor of Elections

  • Supervisor of Elections teams prepare for busy election season; incorporating new polling place procedures to comply with new state law. Supervisor of Elections’ Newsletter – Summer 2019
  • Supervisor of Elections office will begin mailing notices to voters whose Vote-by-Mail requests have expired. Request your ballots online at http://CollierVotes.com for all three elections next year. Facebook – 9/6/19

Collier Mosquito Control District

Local news reported in this post is by Brent Batten, Alexi C. Cardona, Lisa Conley, Emma Dill, Rachel Fradette, Liz Freeman, Laura Layden, Devan Patel, Patrick Riley and Gabe Stern (Naples Daily News); Amy Bennett Williams (Fort Myers News-Press); and Steve “Stef” Stefanides (Coastal Breeze News).


Our Florida Legislators

Find your representatives based on your street address HERE.

State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo, District 28

State Rep. Byron Donalds, District 80

State Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez, District 105

State Rep. Bob Rommel, District 106

  • Activists call on Florida Legislature for equal rights. News conferences were held in front of the local district offices of GOP lawmakers who will have a major say in whether the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) advances in either chamber, including Chair of the Civil Justice Subcommittee Bob Rommel in Naples. Florida Phoenix – 8/26/19

I’m always trying to get better and would love your feedback on these recaps and my website. Email your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to sandy@sparkers-soapbox.com. Thanks, and have a good September!

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