Wednesday, August 2, 2017

July 2017 Month in Review - Local News

Last month, Collier County Commissioners and staff continued to discuss how to address competing needs to pay for new growth as well as improvements to existing aging infrastructure. The Naples City Council also considered growth-related issues in July. The Collier County School Board approved the District’s tentative FY 2018 budget and adopted 2018 legislative priorities, and the District introduced new and exciting opportunities for students.

Top stories: Collier County

  • Collier ponders how to tax for roads, affordable housing, land conservation to wipe out a backlog of almost $50 million. Read more at naplesnews.com.
    • Related: Sales tax hike considered in Collier County. A one percent tax would generate about $70 million a year, according to Commissioner Burt Saunders. Read more at FOX4now.com.
  • Collier backs down on tax increase to conserve land after “strong opposition” from local real estate agents, Republican committee members and state representatives.  It will instead ask voters in a 2018 referendum whether they want to bring back a special tax to fund Conservation Collier to buy and convert preserve land. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Changes coming to Immokalee impact fees. Collier Commissioners approved a measure that will allow developers and future property owners in Immokalee to pay impact fees over 10, 20, or even 30 years rather than upfront. Read more at immokaleebulletin.com.
  • Four sites owned by Collier County could be used for affordable housing. A decision on which, if any, of the lots to offer to developers will be made in September. Map here. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Collier looks to density to encourage more self-contained villages in the 77,000 acres immediately east of Collier Boulevard and north and south of Golden Gate Estates where planners expect a large part of the county’s projected population boom. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Collier approves closer-together high-rises near North Naples beach despite outcry from neighbors. Commissioners decided developers were following the code as it was written. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Estero the latest to bail on SWFL Regional Planning Council.. First Sarasota County, then Lee and Charlotte Counties left. And with Collier “on the brink of an exit,” the body is now starting to lose municipal members as well. Read more at naplesherald.com.
    • Related: Collier weighs halt in funding of Regional Planning Council; Immokalee’s “Promise Zone” funding might be at risk. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Collier County bans medical marijuana dispensaries, for now. Commissioners voted 4–1 to keep the dispensaries from opening until at least Dec. 31 so they can lobby state lawmakers for more control over the number of dispensaries that could open. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Work begins to keep Clam Pass in North Naples clear of sand for the third time in four years, just a year after a major dredging project. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Clam Bay manatee speed zone challenge set for September hearing in Tallahassee. The matter is the latest in a “long-standing feud” between Pelican Bay and the Seagate community over boating in Clam Bay. Read more at naplesnews.com.

Top editorials and commentaries: Collier County

  • Editorial: local sales tax - worth examining pluses, drawbacks.The County has much catching up to do on recession-delayed roads, bridges, parks and other infrastructure to manage both current and future growth. The question is how to pay for them. Read more at naplesnews.com.
    • Related Commentary: Sales tax possible way to pay for Collier projects. “We applaud” commissioners’ decision to determine where the “unmet critical capital needs” are, prioritize, and consider how to best fund them. By Michael Dalby, President and CEO - Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, at naplesnews.com.
    • Related Commentary: Tax increase discussions - enough already? People prioritize their needs and live within a budget. Counties should, too. By Janet Vasey, at naplesnews.com.
  • Commentary: Eye-popping number of high-end homes anchor Collier’s tax base, meaning the well-off pay a larger share of the cost of running county government and schools. By Brent Batten, at naplesnews.com.
  • Commentary: Ready, willing to remit bed taxes to Collier County. But “turning over personal identifiable information — including names and addresses — of our local hosts” to the County is “something we cannot do.” By Tom Martinelli, Policy Director, Airbnb Florida, at naplesnews.com.
    • Related Commentary: Home rentals a money vs. neighborhood issue. Very short-term, even daily, rentals in our residential neighborhoods “don’t belong” in our community. Read more from Bill Barnett, Mayor - Naples at naplesnews.com.
  • Commentary: North Collier, Immokalee fire discuss expanding “already successful” interlocal agreements to bolster efficiency. By Norman Feder, Chairman - North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District board of commissioners at naplesnews.com.
  • Commentary: How will ocean rise affect Collier County? There will be some inland flooding by 2050, and by 2100 many cities could be swamped. The timing is uncertain, but the end result is not. Read more from Linda Penniman, Vice Mayor - Naples, and Dave Trecker, vice chairman - Collier Citizens Council, at naplesnews.com.

Top stories: City of Naples

  • Plans show massive condo complex at former Naples Daily News site on Central Avenue. The project benefits from density bonuses approved by the Naples City Council. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Lawsuit charges Naples ignored precedent in denying redevelopment request. Developer wants to tear down and rebuild a single-family house at his property in Old Naples. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Naples officials considering no-boating zone near Lowdermilk Park. The proposal would exclude boating and personal watercraft within 500 feet of Lowdermilk’s coast at the beach end of Banyan Boulevard. Read more at naplesnews.com.

Top stories and editorials: Collier County Public Schools

  • School Board approves tentative $1 billion budget and a property tax millage rate of $5.1220 per $1,000, down from $5.234 per $1,000 this year. With increased property values, the lower millage rate will result in a 2 percent increase in dollars collected. The vote was 4–1. The board will vote again in September on a final budget, but the property tax rate is final. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Collier School Board adopts 2018 state legislative priorities. They include more time to implement new mandates, funding for major changes, and reduced testing. The 2018 legislative session begins in January. Read more at naplesherald.com.
  • Collier district expands Cambridge Programs to gifted and high-achieving elementary students. The district now offers the “rigorous curriculum aimed at developing critical thinking and skills fostering collaboration” in grades three through high school. It plans to expand it to kindergarten, first and second grades next year. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • 14 Collier high school students attend National Flight Academy in Pensacola through a student enrichment program of the NAACP of Collier County in collaboration with School District. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Editorial: Collaboration makes Collier ready for children’s future. Behind-the-scenes over the past two years, a “blossoming network” called Future Ready Collier has drawn together about 40 organizations and public agencies to address two goals: to ensure all children are ready for kindergarten, and to make sure those finishing school will graduate on track to earn a degree or credential for employment. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Editorial: Local success a plus, state a minus for education in ’17. Kudos have come nonstop for Collier County Public Schools. Read more at naplesnews.com.

Election news

  • Roy Terry seeks re-election to Collier School Board District 5. Read more at naplesnews.com.
  • Also filed to run for election in 2018, according to the Collier Supervisor of Elections website:
    • Kathy Ryan - for School Board District 3
    • Andy Solis (REP) - for reelection to Board of County Commissioners District 2
    • Cecil G. Jorgensen (REP) - for Board of County Commissioners District 4
    • Candidates for County Judge Groups 1, 2 and 6
    • Candidates for Greater Naples Fire District Seats 3 and 4
  • 2018 Naples City Council candidates, according to Naples City Clerk website:
    • James Moon
    • Mitchell Norgart
    • Wynn Phillips

News happens daily! Stay current with Sparker’s Soapbox on Facebook at  fb.me/sparkers.soapbox.
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