The Collier County Board of Commissioners had a full schedule for their January 26, 2021 meeting. They started by making a special exception to their COVID policy by allowing in-person recognition for the 2020 Employee of the Year and 2020 Supervisor of the Year. Steve Athey, Property Maintenance Inspector for the Growth Management Department was named Employee of the Year, and Brittney Mahon, Human Resources Manager with the Administrative Services Department, was named Supervisor of the Year. Both received a plaque and a reward.
Moving on, the County has shifted focus from COVID testing to COVID vaccination because testing is readily available throughout the community at pharmacies, physician’s offices, hospitals, and urgent care centers. Testing through the County is now one day a week, by appointment only, at the Health Department office at the Government Center.
The Collier County Department of Health has administered 7,900 doses of the vaccine while the community as a whole has administered over 27,000 doses. Commissioner Taylor pointed out that the 27,000 doses include hospital workers, front line workers, first responders and nursing homes along with the general public. Vaccines for the general public are provided by the Collier County Department of Health at the North Collier Regional Park or Publix stores throughout the county. The Collier County Department of Health has also partnered with EMS and Fire Districts to bring events to different areas (Marco Island, Everglades City and the City of Naples events just passed). Commissioner LoCastro asked about more doses becoming available for another event in Marco and Everglades City. Mr. Drew foresees that happening in the future, but no specifics have been set.
Currently the Department of Health is using the Eventbrite system for appointments. The State is pilot testing a system called ShareCare in other counties (not Collier) in the hopes it will be better than what is currently in use. Those that have received their first dose will receive an email to let them know that their second dose appointment is ready, and they can then register.
A residency requirement went into effect on January 21, 2021. You must present a valid Florida Driver License or Florida Identification Card OR two or more of the items from an extensive list that includes everything from a monthly mortgage statement to a recent utility bill.
The process by which vaccines are distributed was also explained. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) distributes vaccines to the state and then the state distributes to the county. While it is assumed the distribution is based on population, Drew could not say that for sure. Right now, we are limited by the supply we are given (the demand is higher than the supply). Commissioners commented they hope to receive more information to take to their respective districts to help quell fact from fiction, as they are finding things out after the fact and with no details to share. They would also like to see a way to help those in the 80-year-old range who may not be technologically savvy enough make their own appointment. Commissioner McDaniels asked Mr. Drew to suggest to the governor that perhaps vaccinations could target by age until the supply chain starts to meet the demand.
The COVID discussion took the Commissioners to lunch. Upon their return, they quickly appointed five regular and two alternates to the Infrastructure Surtax Citizen Oversight Committee.
Next, Commissioner Taylor asked for a reconsideration on establishing a board policy on the expansion of the Big Cypress Basin. Commissioner Taylor is requesting that the county have more input even though bills are already being moved through committee at the state level. A motion for an evidentiary type of hearing on the pros and cons of the Big Cypress Basin was approved.
Next was a recommendation to approve a full–time position to manage the implementation of the Collier County Arts and Culture Strategic Plan. Interspersed were public comments regarding the United Arts Council and their role. The Board decided to have a full hearing at a future meeting to better establish the parameters of this position and how the county will fund it.
The Board continued their discussion on the County Manager recruitment process. They closed the acceptance of applications on January 20, 2021, and while at one time they considered hiring a recruiting firm, they feel enough applicants have already come through to make that unnecessary. There are 35 applicants to date. A motion was approved for each commissioner to compile a list of their top five candidates and provide it to Amy Lyberg, Human Resources Director, by February 1, 2021.
The recommendation to appoint four members to the Conservation Collier Land Acquisition Advisory Committee will be continued at the February 9, 2021 meeting so that the Commissioners can do more investigating of the Staff recommendations. A discussion ensued on whether a policy should be instituted that would require seven-member committees to one have one appointee from each district. County Attorney Klatzkow points out that it is difficult to fill committee seats and believes changing bylaws for that requirement would leave seats empty.
There was a follow up to relocating the location of the March 1st One Naples meeting. The suggested alternate locations, plus others Staff investigated on their own, were not available. Other county considerations did not offer anything different than the current location. Unless anything more is brought forward, that meeting will be held at the originally planned location.
Mr. Sanjay Saggere, the new County CIO and IT Director, was introduced. Mr. Saggere is excited for the opportunity and has already “hit the ground running”. Commissioner Saunders has asked for cybersecurity to be scheduled for a future board meeting.
To help the public understand a little more about county business, Commissioner LoCastro brought up the “speedy” approval on items found on the consent agenda. He explains that the consent agenda is given to the commissioners ahead of time so they can be reviewed in a timely manner. So, their seemingly quick vote is actually preceded by a thorough review of the items. LoCastro also mentions an item from the consent agenda can be pulled out for further discussion at any time.
Commissioner McDaniels ends the meeting asking for an overview of county technology to help more with virtual meetings.
Did you know that the State has a dedicated COVID-19 website? Go to www.floridahealthcovid19.gov for more resources.
There is a wealth of information to be found on the county website pertaining to the Board of County Commissioners. Go to www.colliercountyfl.gov and click on “Your Government”. You will see “Board of County Commissioners” at the top of the last column. Selecting that takes you right to the Board of County Commissioners page. Here you can meet all the Commissioners, view upcoming meeting agendas and past meeting minutes, petition the Board and more. The Collier County Commissioners meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month and can be streamed live via Collier TV. The search bar on top is another convenient way to find the Count Commissioners page and Collier TV Online.