For many residents on the island, when there is talk about beach renourishment, they automatically think about the millions of dollars spent over the years to replenish the sands lost due to natural erosion by mother nature. The rationale for the expenditure of money each year comes from the understanding that beaches are a major attraction for tourism and tourism is one of the major generators of income for the county.
Those funds come, for the most part, from what is called Tourist Development Taxes. That tax is a five percent tax on the gross rental amount of what is considered “short-term rentals” here in Collier County. That tax is paid by hotels, motels, campgrounds and individuals who rent properties for less than 6 months here in Collier County.
The distribution of those funds is set by Collier County Ordinance.
The funds are disbursed as follows:
- Beaches: 42.56%
- Promotion: 47.8%
- Museums: 9.59%
Due to a disagreement as to public access of the beaches found along the Hideaway Beach Development a few years ago, the County discontinued allocation of funds for maintenance of those beaches. Rather than let the beaches deteriorate along the Hideaway Development, owners there made the decision to “tax themselves,” rather than see the value of their properties lost because of a lack of maintenance provided to that valuable asset. That decision also had a subsequent positive impact on the City of Marco Island, Collier County and the State of Florida in preventing that beach area along Hideaway to be significantly negatively impacted.
Collier County itself has benefited greatly from that action by Hideaway Beach residents, not only in the collection of considerable tax revenue, but in the Hideaway residents’ efforts to maintain the opening at the north end of Sand Dollar Island. Had that been allowed to close, it would have precipitated the total collapse of the viability of the Tigertail Beach County Park. The county presently is in the process of a million-dollar project to improve playground equipment, improve the parking areas and enhance the concession area located there. Unless the park stays viable, the million-dollar investment may be one of the largest wastes of tax dollars in the last 10 years.
At a recent stakeholders workshop called by District 1 County Commissioner Rick LoCastro regarding the issues concerning Tigertail, Marco Island Councilman Erik Brechnitz reported that the Hideaway Beach Taxing District had contributed $3 million in the last several years to maintain the opening at the north end of Sand Dollar, therefore preventing its total closing off.
The independent taxing district met last week to discuss another special assessment which they will be proposing for their residents to continue to support the maintenance of the beach along Hideaway as well as the complex process of permitting with state and federal entities. The collapse of that beach system would be devastating not only to Hideaway, but to the county, the state and, of course, the City of Marco Island.
A tour along the beach over this past weekend showed a great many boats and residents sitting along the white sandy beach which lines the perimeter of the Hideaway Beach Community. A walk along Tigertail Beach toward the sand-spit shows it is inching its way closer to closing off that vital waterway that feeds into the lagoon and extends up to the County’s Tigertail Beach Park.
The Hideaway Taxing District’s attorney, Craig Woodward, reviewed the expenses relating to the raking which the District has done over the last year.
Board members also reviewed the status of the number of T-Groins which have been established along the beach to prevent erosion of sand away from the beach front. Paul Fernstrum reported that there has been a considerable loss of that sand closer down to the entrance of Collier Creek along the shoreline, but feels this summer there may be a return of some of the depth of beach in that area.
The board, consisting of Chair Dick Delawder, Vice Chair John Barto, Paul Fernstrum, Linda Ryan and Steve Zinkan, agreed to meet once again in May to determine how to proceed with regard to the mechanism they would use to finalize the process to propose raising the necessary dollars to continue the beach renourishment and control needs.