County Government News for April 2020

This month in Collier County government news: Local beaches reopen; a changing of the guard on City Council; CCPS tax-neutral referendum and Ethics Naples head to August ballot.

Collier County government news

Local news reported in this post is by Brittany Carloni, Phil Fernandez, Rachel Fradette, Liz Freeman, Chad Gillis, Kaitlin Greenockle, Laura Layden, Devan Patel, Patrick Riley, Jessica Rodriguez, Bill Smith and Karl Schneider (USA TODAY Network – Florida: Naples Daily News, News-Press, Marco Eagle)


For the latest news about the coronavirus in our area and across the state, visit Sen. Kathleen Passidomo’s COVID-19 News & Resources page, here.

Reopening County and City Facilities

Local beaches and parks were reopened on April 30, following Gov. DeSantis’ reopening of the state. County and city staffs coordinated on the timing.

Before the announcement of the beach reopening, there was talk of a committee to be formed to deal with the eventual reopening of the economy, parks, beaches, and government buildings. As of this writing, I could find no update on the status of this committee.

Availability of Testing

For most of April, COVID-19 testing was hard to come by. In the past week, it has become somewhat easier to be tested in Southwest Florida.

Effect on Collier County Public Schools

While the rest of the county is expected to reopen in stages over the coming months, Florida’s K-12 schools will continue distance learning through the end of the school year — June 3rd, for CCPS. High school seniors’ usual graduation events have been canceled or are “going virtual,” while school principals are supporting their scattered staff from afar.

Other COVID-19 News

Growth & Development

In March, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida sued Collier County to overturn its approval of a controversial proposed rural village to be developed by Collier Enterprises. The Conservancy has been staunchly opposed to the project from the start, arguing that it doesn’t meet the goals and the policies of the Rural Land Stewardship Area (RLSA) where the development is to be located and that it would destroy hundreds of acres of primary panther habitat.

In April, Collier Enterprises, the developer of Rivergrass, joined the county in the legal fight.

Also in April, new residential projects by other developers continued. Will our roads be able to handle the traffic?

Meanwhile, East Naples is planning for future development and seeks community input:

City of Naples

With a new mayor and three new council members, and while dealing with decisions related to the coronavirus, the Naples City Council took several important actions:

City of Marco Island


After the City of Naples and Collier County closed their beaches, fearing an influx of beach enthusiasts from the east coast:

But some residents complained that beach access was still allowed through hotels and condominiums, and Councilman Victor Rios spoke of two classes of citizens, one with access and one without. After a lengthy City Council meeting on April 6, by a vote of 4-3 (Grifoni, Brechnitz, Rios and Reed in favor; Roman, Young and Honig opposed):

In response, hundreds of residents expressed their disfavor with Council’s decision to reopen due to public health concerns through emails to council and across social media. And — in “a stunning turn of events” — City Manager Michael McNees, after consultation with Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz, reversed the decision:

The lesson: Make your voice heard. You can make a difference!

Collier County Public Schools

Collier County’s school district is calling for a tax referendum to go before voters in August stemming from anticipated budget shortfalls due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the Collier County School Board approved the District’s request that a tax neutral referendum be placed on the August ballot.

I will write more about this referendum as part of Sparker’s Soapbox coverage of the races and referenda that will be on Collier voters’ ballots in the coming months.

Clerk of Courts & Comptroller


Supervisor of Elections

Our State Legislators

Parts of Collier County are represented in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Byron Donalds (District 80), Rep. Bob Rommel (District 106), and Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez (District 105). All of Collier County is represented in the Florida Senate by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.

Collier County’s state senator and representatives penned op-ed pieces sharing their strikingly different takes on the current situation:

Sen. Passidomo, who is also Florida’s Senate Majority Leader, highlights her confidence in and support of Governor DeSantis’s “strong leadership:”

As he runs for reelection to a third term in the Florida House, Rep. Rommel leads with, “President Trump is right: COVID-19 is an unseen enemy, and we are at war.”

As one of ten Republican candidates for Congressional District 19 representing western Collier and Lee counties, Rep. Donalds leads with and titled his piece:

Our U.S. Congressmen

Parts of Collier County are represented in the U.S. Congress of Rep. Francis Rooney (District 19) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (District 25).

That’s it for April’s Collier County government news. Stay safe, and have a great May!

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