Earlier this year, we blogged about various measures being taken by the Collier County Commission to raise revenue for various projects and improvements. These “bold steps” included (1) implementation of a 25% increase to the County’s tourist tax (from 4 to 5 cents per dollar); (2) presentation of a sales tax increase via ballot measure; and (3) creation of a stormwater utility.
The Collier County Commission reconvened in September 2018, after their customary summer break. September brought some surprises (e.g., postponement of the stormwater utility effort), and made clear that the Board once again has its hands full as it begins a new “season” and fiscal year. Below is an update on the status of these three important initiatives.
Bed Tax Increase
The increase of the bed tax from 4 to 5 cents per dollar became effective in September 2017. Since that time, according to data provided by the County’s Tourism Department, the tax increase has resulted in an over 26% increase (over prior year) in total collections through August 2018 (from approx. $21.2M to approx. $26.8M). These funds are used for various tourism initiatives, including paying off the debt service for the County’s new sports complex.
Sales Tax Increase
This measure will appear on the November ballot in Collier County, and both sides of the issue have galvanized. If approved, the measure would impose an additional 1% sales tax (from 6% to 7%, or a 16.67% tax increase) on taxable purchases/transactions. Funds raised will be put toward certain overdue infrastructure improvements and community projects. While there are solid arguments on both sides of the issue, the “majority of the electors” will ultimately decide whether this will be implemented.
Last year, the County began the process of implementing a stormwater utility. This included hiring of a consultant, holding public meetings and workshops, giving presentations, and other considerable efforts by County staff to spread the word. Everything seemed to be headed toward approval and implementation, with the underlying ordinance having gotten through first and second readings. However, when property owners received their estimated assessments, they showed up in force to oppose the assessment. Based on this public pressure, including opposition by the Naples Area Board of Realtors, Commissioners decided to postpone the measure for 12-months for further vetting.
There is also a lot going on in East Naples – examples include a recent study of the U.S. 41 East Corridor, which covered land use concerns and local preferences for development along this important corridor.
The County has also approved a new mobile food vendor park on Bayshore Drive, which will soon be serving up great food for residents and visitors.
Finally, the “golden triangle” at the intersection of U.S. 41 East and Davis Blvd. has had some ups and downs, but finally appears to be moving forward to development.
Stay tuned to this blog for future updates.