Board of County Commissioners
Collier County residents are represented by one of five elected county commissioners.
Find Your County Commissioner
Coastal Storm Risk Management Plan
One of the first items addressed when Commissioners returned from vacation this month was a recommendation by Commission Chairman Penny Taylor that the Board of County Commissioners NOT move forward with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, as it had agreed to do in July.
Her fellow commissioners rejected her recommendation, with Commissioner Rick LoCastro saying to do so would be irresponsible and Commissioner Andy Solis calling the move premature. After hearing input from local environmental groups, commissioners agreed to look into forming a technical advisory committee to address the needs of the county.
For more on this controversial and important plan, see:
- Protecting Collier County’s coastlines: How commissioners plan to keep working with Army Corps. Naples Daily News, 9/15/21
- Naples Council ‘strongly opposes’ Army Corps’ coastal resiliency plan for Collier County. Naples Daily News, 9/9/21
- Collier County commissioner finds storm protection plan lacking. WINK News, 8/19/21
- Commissioner Taylor’s newsletter, 7/30/21, for a her history of the USACE feasibility study and the community response
- USACE Collier County Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study Tentatively Selected Plan, 7/31/20
Mosquito Control District Boundaries
Revisiting a previous decision, Commissioners voted unanimously at their Sep. 14 meeting to reconsider the expansion of Collier Mosquito Control District boundaries after environmental groups pointed to potential violations of state statutes and possible threats to public conservation lands.
For more, see:
- Collier leaders to reconsider mosquito control boundary expansion over legal, ecologic concerns. Naples Daily News, 9/18/21
- Collier Mosquito Control District Map & Fact Sheet
Spending Collier’s American Rescue Plan Funds
This month, Collier County released its plan for spending the over $74 million in federal funding it received to support long-term recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
In sum, they allocated $28.0 million for public health efforts, $21.5 million to combat negative economic impacts of the pandemic, $9.8 million for services to disproportionally impacted communities, $9.2 million for water and infrastructure upgrades, and $5.9 million for administrative costs.
For details on the projects and programs to be funded, see:
- From rental assistance to EMS bonuses, Collier sets plan for $74 million from American Rescue Plan. Naples Daily News, 9/10/21
- Collier County 2021 Recovery Plan Performance Report submitted to the U.S. Treasury August 31, 2021
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 Aug. 18, 30-31, Sep. 1, Sep. 9, and Sep. 15, a Special Meeting on Sep. 13, and Workshops on Aug. 16 and Sep. 13. For agendas, minutes, and recordings of these meetings, click here.
The City of Naples Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is working with Bright Community Trust to create an Affordable Housing Strategy for the Naples Community Redevelopment district. Bright Community Trust presented its findings to date in a second public input meeting on September 21.
- Naples’ Gordon River Apartments in River Park sold for $17.5M; residents fear being displaced. Naples Daily News, 9/17/21
41-10 District Master Plan
Naples’s “41-10 District” has evolved organically from industrial to mixed-use and retail. Now City Council wants a clear vision and direction for the district’s future.
Public Art Master Plan
The City of Naples is developing a public art plan to guide the future, align with national best practices, and reflect Naples’ character and the aspirations of its residents.
The City seeks community input on the draft plan, which is based on extensive stakeholder and community engagement. Click here to review the plan.
Naples Pier Fishing Rule Change
An advisory board has recommended changes to the ordinances governing fishing at the Naples Pier, despite objections from residents who use the pier to fish. The recommendations stem from an effort by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida meant to curb injuries to pelicans from fishing gear. For more, see:
- Protect the pelicans: Board recommends changes to fishing rules at Naples Pier. Now council must decide. Naples Daily News, 9/22/21
Mayor/Councilor Salary Review
The City Charter requires that a committee be established at least every four years to consider salary and benefit increases for the mayor and Council members. In August, each councilor named a member to the committee.
This month, the committee voted 5-2 to recommend 8.2% salary increases. If adopted, the mayor’s salary would increase from $50,000 to $54,100 and council members’ salary would increase from $40,000 to $43,300.
City Council will consider the recommendations on Oct. 20. See:
- Naples ‘blue ribbon’ committee recommends salary increases for mayor, City Council members. Naples Daily News, 9/24/21
Fire Chief Retirement
Naples Fire Chief Pete DiMaria plans to retire at the end of September unless Council approves an ordinance that would allow him to collect retirement benefits while also continuing to earn a salary as fire chief.
On Sep. 9, the proposed ordinance was approved on first reading by a 5-2 vote. Vice Mayor Terry Hutchison and Councilman Mike McCabe voted against it. Approval on a second reading is required for it to become official.
For more on this story at the intersection of public safety and public policy, see:
- Naples Fire Chief Pete DiMaria plans to retire at the end of September. Naples Daily News, 9/2/21
- Naples Fire Chief Pete DiMaria says he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ after council vote. Naples Daily News, 9/10/21
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 Aug. 16 and Sep. 2, 7, and 20. See agendas, minutes, and video replays here.
2020 – 2040 Comprehensive Plan
At meetings on Sep. 7 and 20, City Council continued its review of the draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan to be submitted to the State later this year.
The plan includes sections on future land use, transportation, housing, coastal management, infrastructure, parks, open space and recreation, intergovernmental coordination, and capital improvements.
For more, see:
- Council Deals with Comprehensive Plan and Water Quality Report. Coastal Breeze News, 9/23/21
- Meeting agenda and draft Comp Plan
Mangrove Restoration Project Breaks Ground
The City of Marco Island will coordinate the construction of four to six large culverts under San Marco Road in a project to be funded by a combination of federal, state, and local sources.
- One of the largest mangrove restoration projects in Florida breaks ground near Marco Island. Naples Daily News, 9/24/21
New Fire Station Groundbreaking
Marco Island’s original fire station is worn out, not built to current codes, and has a host of issues starting at the roof and working down. After 30 years of service, it’s about to be replaced. See:
- Fire Station 50: Goodbye to the old, hello to the new. Marco Eagle, 9/8/21
Veterans’ Park Improvements
For nearly two decades, there has been talk of putting up permanent structures at Marco Island’s Veterans’ Community Park. On Aug. 18, a first step was taken toward making that dream a reality.
- Breaking ground on a dream: Veterans’ Park improvements are ceremonially kicked off. Marco Eagle, 8/23/21
District School Board of Collier County
Collier County residents are represented by five elected School Board members.
Meet the School Board
The Collier County School Board held regularly scheduled meetings on Aug. 10 and Sep. 8, a final Budget Hearing on Sep. 8, and a Board Policy Work Session on Sep. 14. See agendas here and video archive here.
District’s A-Rating Continues
Continuing a successful “A” rating streak that dates back to 2017, CCPS earned an “A” rating from the Florida Department of Education for the 2020-21 school year.
This is particularly significant considering the effect of the pandemic and the differences in learning conditions students experienced during the year.
For more, see:
- Collier Schools keeps A-rating in state’s district grades despite pandemic, Lee opts out. Naples Daily News, 9/21/21
- Full assessment brief
New Public Charter School Approved
The School Board approved the application for a new K-12 virtual charter school to be operated by Phoenix Education Network (PEN) in affiliation with the Hillsdale College Barney Charter School Initiative.
Phoenix Education Network, Inc., d/b/a Optima Classical Academy (OCA) plans to open in August 2022 with Grades 3 through 7 and a projected estimated enrollment of 440 students.
PEN is a Florida nonprofit organization whose Executive Director is Erika Donalds, a former CCPS School Board member who is also the President and CEO of The Optima Foundation, and wife of Congressman Byron Donalds.
OCA will be the fourth school and the first virtual school to be operated by PEN. The others are Naples Classical Academy (Collier County), Treasure Coast Classical Academy (Martin County, FL), and Jacksonville Classical Academy (Duval County, FL).
For more, see:
- Optima Classical Academy Charter Application
- Phoenix Education Network, Inc., listing
- Hillsdale College Barney Charter School Initiative
Sunshine Law Violation
An appeals court ruled that the Collier County School Board violated the state’s Sunshine Law because the public was shut out of meetings of committees that evaluated and ranked textbooks.
The nonprofit Florida Citizens Alliance and three individual plaintiffs claimed in a 2017 suit that the law that requires open government meetings.
The ruling sent the case back to circuit court.
For more, see:
- Collier County textbook meetings violated Florida’s Sunshine Law, court rules. News Service of Florida, 9/10/21
Other Local Elected Officials
Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards and her office are using social media to respond to every allegation of voter fraud in the last election. WINK News, 8/26/21
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Lorenzo Walker Technical College to expand 911 dispatcher training opportunities for high school students. CCSO Press Release, 8/19/21
Parts of Collier County are represented in the Florida House of Representatives by Reps. Bob Rommel (District 106), Lauren Melo (District 80), and David Borrero (District 105).
All of Collier County is represented in the Florida Senate by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (District 28).
Find Your State Representative
“We need to reconvene the coalition of community leaders, advocates, and organizations that came together 30 years ago to create the Affordable Housing Trust Fund programs,” Sen. Kathleen Passidomo told attendees at a recent online event. WUSF Public Media, 9/15/21
“I am pro-life but I am not pro-telling on your neighbors,’ Sen. Kathleen Passidomo said, but she will not support an exact duplication of the Texas abortion law. Florida Politics, 9/14/21
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and Rep. Lauren Melo expect water quality, education, and housing to be hot topics when lawmakers convene for their annual 60-day session. The Chamber Connect, 9/2/21
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and Reps. David Borrero, Lauren Melo, and Bob Rommel were among the Southwest Florida lawmakers demanding changes to the Army Corps. of Engineers’ Lake Okeechobee discharge plan. Florida Politics, 8/4/21
U.S. House of Representatives
Parts of Collier County are represented in the Florida House of Representatives by Mario Diaz-Balart (District 25) and Byron Donalds (District 19).
Find Your Congressman
US House passes bill legislating women’s right to choose; SWFL reps oppose.
- US House passes bill legislating women’s right to choose; SWFL reps oppose. The Paradise Progressive, 9/24/21
District 19: Byron Donalds
- We hear you, Southwest Florida, new Army Corps leader tells audience at Congressman Byron Donalds’ town hall. The News-Press, 9/23/21
- Rep. Byron Donalds talks position against mask, vaccine mandates to advisory board. The News-Press, 8/27/21
- Rep. Byron Donalds’ water panel kinder to Army Corps than last week’s reception in Fort Myers. The News-Press, 8/11/21
Local news reported in this post is by Jake Allen, Chad Gillis, Omar Rodriguez Ortiz, Karl Schneider, Lance Shearer, and Amy Bennett Williams (Naples Daily News; The News-Press; Marco Eagle; Treasure Coast Newspapers); Steve Stefanides (Coastal Breeze News); David Silverberg (The Paradise Progressive); and Rachel Cox-Rosen (WINK News).
That’s it for this month’s news for Collier County voters!