Board of County Commissioners
Collier County residents are represented by one of five elected county commissioners.
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Millions in Unspent Rent Assistance
At their Apr. 26 meeting, commissioners were informed that $6 million out of $11 million of federal rental assistance dollars received by the county remains unspent and that any unspent funds will have to be sent back to the federal government in September.
Commissioner Rick LoCastro, who serves on the county’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, encouraged the media who were present to help get the word out. Commissioners directed staff to see if an extension from the federal government could be obtained and to continue to work with partner organizations to reach and assist qualified renters in the community to apply for the funds. (Naples Daily News, 4/29/22)
BCC Considers Local Rental Ordinance
Also, at their Apr. 26 meeting, commissioners discussed a proposed ordinance to require landlords to give their tenants 60 days’ written notice for rent increases of over 5 percent. Commissioner Burt Saunders asked the board at its April 15 meeting to consider adopting the new law. (WINK News, 4/27/22; Naples Daily News, 5/2/22)
All commissioners agreed on the need to do something to assist renters. But Commissioner Bill McDaniel expressed concern that the proposed ordinance would not be enforceable, and Commissioner Rick LoCastro said the ordinance, as drafted, was not “the best that it could be.” (4/26/22 BCC Meeting Video at ~approx.4:55 – 5:14)
Saunders’ motion to advertise the ordinance for a public hearing and bring it back at the May 10, BCC meeting, passed with a vote of 3-2. LoCastro and McDaniel voted no. (4/26/22 BCC Meeting Recap)
Growth Management Plan Amended
Commissioners adopted, with changes, a resolution amending the Collier County Growth Management Plan relating to approximately 77,000 acres located east of Collier Boulevard (Rural Fringe Mixed Use District). The original plan for this area was adopted in 2002.
County Manager Search Narrows
As we reported in our recap of February news, commissioners are using the county’s human resources department rather than a professional search firm to find their next county manager.
This month, an initial field of 40 candidates was narrowed down to seven. They include Dan Rodriguez and Amy Patterson, currently the county’s deputy county managers, and George Yilmaz, who heads the county’s public utilities division. The other candidates are currently serving as assistant city manager for Fort Lauderdale, interim city manager for Woodbury, NJ, deputy director at Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, and county administrator for Camden County, GA. (Naples Daily News, 4/15/22)
The county hopes to have the position filled by June.
EMS Staff Increase Approved
During FY 2021, the county’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) employees worked 79,455 overtime hours at a cost of over $2.6 million. The EMS Division’s last major staffing adjustment was in April 2014, to address response times throughout the County.
On Apr. 12, commissioners unanimously authorized 12 additional Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions in the Division to improve public safety, reduce response times, and increase EMS availability while meeting current and future demands on the EMS system. The annual cost associated with the additional staff will be about $1.2 million. (BCC 4/12/22 Meeting Agenda Item 11.D. and Meeting Recap)
US 41 East Corridor Project
The County’s Planning & Zoning Division with Johnson Engineering is launching a community-focused planning effort (the US 41 East Corridor Zoning Overlay Project) to address the needs envisioned in the East Naples Community Development Plan.
The first of three community meetings was held on Apr. 20 (PowerPoint slides here). Future meetings are scheduled for Oct. 26 and Nov. 30.
Naples City Council
City of Naples residents are represented by an elected mayor and six elected city councilors.
Meet the Naples City Council
The Naples City Council held regular meetings on Apr. 4 and Apr. 6 and a Workshop meeting on Apr. 19. For agendas, minutes, and recordings of these meetings, click here.
New City Manager Contract Approved
City Council approved the employment agreement for Naples’ new city manager, Jay Boodheshwar, who is leaving his post as deputy town manager of Palm Beach on Florida’s east coast. Boodheshwar’s full-time duties in Naples will begin May 2, and he will receive an annual base salary of $270,000. (Gulfshore Business, 5/4/22)
Does New Firefighter Contract Meet the Need?
Council members unanimously approved a new contract with the City Fire Department. Although the contract provides pay raises, the local union says it doesn’t address the benefits and pension issues that are causing firefighters to leave. (FOX4Now, 4/21/22)
Design District Master Plan Draws Crowd
On Apr. 13, community members had the opportunity to get a first look at a draft master plan for the Naples Design District. While the plan was met with enthusiasm, attendees said infrastructure improvements — namely, improvements to roads, walkways, and utilities, especially stormwater management — are a top priority. (Naples Daily News, 4/14/22)
Tree-Planting Program to Begin Soon
DRB Approves Beach Hotel Design
Plans to replace the historic Naples Beach Hotel were granted final design approval last week by the city’s Design Review Board with a 3-2 vote. The two “no” votes followed a threat by a neighbor on Gulf Shore Boulevard North who opposes the redevelopment to name the Board members in a lawsuit if they approved the plans. (Gulfshore Business, 4/7/22)
Heart Center Plan Debate Postponed
As we reported previously, NCH wants to build a new Heart, Stroke, and Vascular Institute at its downtown campus. But the proposed building would exceed the City’s current height limit for commercial buildings.
The hospital is pursuing a different zoning designation for the center, yet still aiming for its desired five-story complex. At its meeting on Apr. 6, Council postponed for a second time a debate on whether to eliminate or keep the exemption for hospitals and parking garages. (Naples Daily News, 4/7/22)
At its Apr. 19 Workshop, Councilor Terry Hutchison asserted that neither City staff nor Council had yet seen the study that NCH completed that shows its heart institute cannot be built under the existing code. No agreement on next steps was reached. (4/19/22 City Council Workshop draft minutes, reviewed 5/2/22)
Marco Island City Council
City of Marco Island residents are represented by seven elected city councilors.
Meet the Marco Island City Council
The Marco Island City Council held regular and special meetings on Apr. 4 and Apr. 18. See agendas, minutes, and video replays here.
Investigation of Fire Prevention and Inspection Records
The City of Marco Island has initiated an inquiry into apparent discrepancies in fire prevention and inspection records. Related to that inquiry, Fire Marshall John Harris and two Fire Inspectors were placed on administrative leave on Apr. 5. Subsequently, Harris and one of the two Inspectors resigned. (Naples Daily News, 4/10/22; Press Release)
City Welcomes New City Clerk
Mike Sheffield has assumed the position of City Clerk following a rigorous selection process. He replaces Laura Litzan, who retired on Apr. 15, 2022. (Press Release, 4/25/22)
District School Board of Collier County
Collier County residents are represented by five elected School Board members.
Meet the School Board
At a Special Board Meeting on Mar. 29, the Board unanimously adopted instructional materials in the areas of mathematics and English Language Arts from the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) published bid list. (3/29/22 School Board Agenda, Executive Summary)
On Apr. 15, the FLDOE released its initial adoption list, which excluded numerous instructional materials from the original bid list, including several that CCPS had adopted in March. Textbook publishers have the opportunity to appeal the decision, and they are doing so. (FOX4Now, 4/26/22)
At a Special Meeting on Apr. 26, the School Board voted to proceed with the adoption of the instructional materials that were on the state’s adoption list. They also voted to defer decision on the previously approved materials that were not on the state’s adoption list.
If, after the appeal process, the deferred titles are placed back on the state’s adopted list, the Board will resume the community review process and make any further adoption decisions. (FOX4Now, 4/26/22; WINK News, 4/26/22)
Click here for the CCPS Instructional Materials webpage, which explains the process and provides those materials for review by the public.
Risk Assessment/Internal Audit Plan
At their Apr. 12 meeting, Board members heard a presentation by consulting firm RSM of the results of a risk assessment it conducted. The purpose of the assessment was to identify areas within the School District that have a relatively high-risk profile or that otherwise require audit attention.
The three risks considered most significant based on the frequency of mention during the consultants’ interviews were: Information Security and Privacy – Cybersecurity; Construction – GGG High School; and Stimulus Funding. See consultant report here.
Board members unanimously voted to have RSM conduct internal audits of the three areas at an anticipated cost of $50,000 to $60,000 per area. (Apr. 12 School Board Meeting Minutes)
Supt. Patton on New State Education Commissioner
Florida has a new Education Commissioner. Manny Diaz, who is currently serving a final term in the Florida Senate, was nominated for the post by Gov. Ron DeSantis and unanimously appointed by the State Board of Education last week.
“Sen. Diaz is an ardent supporter of public education whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with in Miami-Dade County and in my current role,” Collier County Superintendent Kamela Patton said. “As a lifelong educator, he always puts students first, and I have no doubt that Florida’s schools will benefit greatly from his outstanding leadership and experience.” (Florida Politics, 4/29/22)
Other Local Elected Officials
All Collier County residents are represented by Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards, Clerk of the Circuit Court Crystal Kinzel, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, Property Appraiser Abe Skinner, and Tax Collector Rob Stoneburner.
Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards
The Collier County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) office has begun mailing a Notice of Elections to all active registered voters for the 2022 Primary and General Elections. The mailing serves to remind voters of the upcoming elections and includes important information regarding election dates and deadlines, early voting locations, and how to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot. (News Release, 5/2/22)
Sometime this summer, all active registered voters in the county will receive a new Voter Information Card which lists their local, state, and congressional districts based on the changes made by the recent local and state redistricting. (News Release, 4/8/22)
In lieu of a Voter Information Card, voters who register to vote or update their voter registration status will receive temporary voter registration notices to confirm that changes have been made. (News Release, 4/8/22)
Local news reported in this post is by Liz Freeman, Dan Glaun, Laura Layden, Rachel Heimann Mercader (Naples Daily News); Tim Aten (Gulfshore Business); Michelle Alvarez, Jennifer Morejon (WINK News); and Calvin Lewis (FOX4Now).
That’s it for this month’s news for Collier County voters.