Local governmental organizations recently gathered at the North Collier Regional Park to make presentations to the Collier County Legislative Delegation regarding their list of wants and needs, which they would seek financial assistance for during the 2019 Legislative Session in Tallahassee.
This year’s delegation is chaired by Representative Bob Rommel. Rommel was joined by the newly-appointed Senate Majority Leader and State Senator Kathleen Passidomo, who also resides in Naples. By phone they were also joined by State Representative
Byron Donalds, who was out of state with a prior commitment.
Every entity, from that of the Collier County School District, which was represented by Vice Chair Stephanie Lucarelli and Superintendent of Schools Kamela Patton to newly elected Everglades City Mayor Howell Grimm, Jr. would come forward with a request to assist with their efforts to improve their efforts to modernize and implement better waste water management practices.
In one of his last official acts as Naples City Manager, Bill Moss would come forward to request assistance for an ongoing effort to help clean up Naples Bay. His request dealt with expanding their efforts to remove over 366 homes from the use of septic tanks and adding them to the city’s centralized wastewater collection system. They would also construct a storm water management system for this area to mitigate impacts from high water events. Property owners are being assessed $13,300 each for this project. The city would be seeking $1.2 million to help offset some of those expenses to local property owners.
Fire Chief Kingman Schuldt of the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District would appeal to the delegation for assistance in having the state meet their responsibilities regarding funding of the fire station built on I-75 east of SR 29. Schuldt would point out that 82% of the calls responded to involve non-Collier County residents on this important transportation route from the west coast to the east coast of Florida. Presently the station is funded solely on the backs of the Collier County taxpayer.
Newly elected Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz made the presentation for the City of Marco Island and was joined by Interim City Manager Gil Polanco. He would list Marco’s requests as $600,000 for an ongoing 32-acre storm water project off San Marco Road to help alleviate serious flooding and discharges into local canals.
His second request involved the necessity to upgrade and revamp Fire Station 50, which failed to provide adequate shelter and availability to local first responders during Hurricane Irma in 2017. That building is presently built below flood grade and would need to be brought into compliance. Cost of construction is estimated at $7.5 million.
The third and last request revolved around an appeal for an $11 million grant to construct facilities for the Marco Island Academy. Previous requests to the Collier County School District have been rejected. Brechnitz would describe the conditions at the school as dismal and not safe or secure for students and faculty.
The delegation will take under consideration all the projects that were presented to them as they attempt to strategize their legislative focus during the upcoming session. For the second year in a row, legislators will be dealing with the impact of another major hurricane that impacted the state and the resulting financial losses.