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!
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.
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
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
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.
- September 10, 2019 agenda available on Commissioner Taylor’s County Webpage. Commissioner Taylor newsletter – 9/6/19
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.
- Collier reviews rural growth plan amid looming disagreements. Naples Daily News – 7/22/19
At the same time, commissioners seem to continually be presented with proposed new developments to review.
- Collier Commission moves ahead with 78-unit affordable housing project to be built on 5 acres of county-owned property on Santa Barbara Boulevard between Radio Road and Davis Boulevard. Naples Daily News – 7/9/19
- Proposed 304-unit North Naples housing project rebuffed by
planningcommission. The project now heads to county commissioners, who have the final say. Naples Daily News – 8/2/19
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:
- Collier leaders sign off on loan to buy
167-acreGolden Gate golf course. Commissioner Fiala was the sole dissenting vote, citing objection to the course being closed to golfers over the summer. Naples Daily News – 7/10/19
Also of note:
- Commissioner Saunders has big plans for Golden Gate improvements. Naples Daily News – 7/6/19
- Immokalee master plan could expand the area’s economy. Naples Daily News – 7/11/19
- One-cent surtax Citizen Oversight Committee validated expenditure of $202 million in surtax revenue to date. County Manager’s Newsletter – August 2019
It’s beach renourishment and dredging time again.
- Collier leaders OK $5.5 million beach renourishment project; truck hauling to start this fall. Naples Daily News – 6/11/19
- Army Corps of Engineers plan calls for March 2020 contract to dredge Gordon Pass. Naples Daily News – 7/23/19
Efforts to keep up with pollution and algae are ongoing.
- Nearly one in four boats broke sewage rules during two-day Collier enforcement sweep. Fort Myers News-Press – 7/12/19
- Green scum on Venetian Bay was not toxic blue-green algae, Florida Department of Environmental Protection says. Naples Daily News – 7/16/19
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:
- Collier looks to computer models as officials gear up for
sea levelrise, severe storms. Naples Daily News – 7/7/19
- County commissioners reject proposed bus advertising change. Naples Daily News – 7/10/19
- Collier looks at strategies to reduce
costof median landscaping program. Naples Daily News – 7/19//19
- Southwest Florida cyclists advocate for mending
gapin coastal bike route, neighbors fear traffic. Naples Daily News – 7/26/19
- Immokalee is trying to make its streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists. Naples Daily News – 7/26/19
- Collier County vows to take action after
firsthomeless veteran count. WINK News – 7/29/19
- Collier’s plan to tackle mental health, substance abuse challenges taking shape. Naples Daily News – 8/13/19
- County Manager reminds full- and part-time residents about “Alert Collier,” the county’s emergency notification system. County Manager’s Newsletter – August 2019
Naples City Council
- Scammers trick City of Naples out of $700,000 in spear phishing cyber attack. City Manager Charles Chapman said the attack, which was under criminal investigation, was an isolated incident and has not impacted the city’s data systems. The City has filed a claim with its insurance carriers and banking institutions. Naples Daily News – 8/2/19
- City Council votes to have eyesore in Naples torn down. Naples Daily News – 8/21/19
- Naples reviewing possibility of allowing dogs on Lowdermilk Park beach. Naples Daily News – 8/23/19
Marco Island City Council
Marco Island’s troublesome personnel issues continued:
- Marco fire training chief arrested, accused of domestic violence and obstruction. Naples Daily News – 8/3/19
- City launches
into claims that acting Marco police chief put malicious docs in employee files. Naples Daily News – 8/13/19 inquiry
In other news:
- Seawall discussions continue. Coastal Breeze News – 7/18/19
Cityof Marco Island completes Strategic Plan. City Newsletter – 8/1/19
- Council approves moving ahead with Veterans Community Park. Coastal Breeze News – 8/30/19
Collier County School Board
The School Board continues to be pleased with its Superintendent’s performance:
- Collier County School Board extends Superintendent Kamela Patton’s contract following evaluation. Naples Daily News – 7/31/19
The School District resolved differences with the Mason Classical Academy public charter school in an 11-hour mediation meeting.
- Editorial: Parents unnecessarily alarmed by notice of termination that wasn’t to be. Naples Daily News – 7/14/19
- School district, Mason Classical Academy settle issues, determine next steps. Naples Daily News – 8/7/19
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.
- Collier School Board nails down its legislative priorities. Naples Daily News – 8/26/19
Clerk of Circuit Court & Comptroller
- Collier County scammed out of $184K in
phishingscheme 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
- Advocates decry, law enforcement defends 287(g) agreement with ICE in Collier County. Naples Daily News – 7/19/19
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
- Mosquito Control District adds $3.4M helicopter to its fleet. Naples Daily News – 7/18/19
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
- Guest Commentary: Democratic Women’s Club of Marco welcomes Senator Kathleen Passidomo. Asked if she would support an assault weapons ban, she said, “Such a bill will not pass. We need to pass what we can do together, or we will get nothing passed.” By Vivian Patterson via Marco Eagle – 8/23/19
State Rep. Byron Donalds, District 80
- House Speaker José Oliva shuffles some House committee assignments. Oliva eliminated the PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee and moved its chairman, Rep. Byron Donalds, to the chairmanship of the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee. Florida Politics – 9/2/19
State Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez, District 105
- Florida House Republican in race for Flores’ Senate seat. Since Rodriguez chose to run for Senate, the seat that represents some of eastern Collier County is wide open. CBSMiami – 7/12/19
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