Naples to spend county sales tax money on hurricane preparedness, safety improvements
The Naples City Council agreed Wednesday to spend the nearly $26 million it expects to receive from the Collier County sales tax increase on preparing for the next big hurricane and improving safety.
Collier voters approved a tax increase of 1 percentage point — from 6% to 7% — in November. It went into effect Jan. 1 and will end after seven years or after it brings in $490 million, whichever happens first.
The county government will collect $420 million, and the remaining $70 million will be shared among Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City based on their populations.
The city's share is expected to be $4.3 million a year for the next six years for a total of $25.8 million, Finance Director Ann Marie Ricardi said.
The city plans on using that money on 12 projects related to hurricane preparedness and improving safety and mobility within the city:
- Emergency stand-by generator replacement for the police department
- Fire Station No. 2 bay hardening and renovations
- Automatic retractable bollards (short posts designed to guide traffic and protect pedestrians and property)
- Americans with Disabilities Act and mobility improvements to city buildings
- City Hall improvements, including repairs to the siding on the interior and exterior, hand rail repair and concrete plaza repairs
- Government buildings hardening program
- First Avenue South improvements
- Sixth Avenue South improvements
- Improvements to bring roadways, sidewalks, pedestrian crossing signals and other transportation infrastructure into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Emergency portable generators for signalized intersections
- Naples Bay water quality and beach restoration
- Install security cameras at Anthony Park, Seagate Park and Seagate Park beach access, and add fiber optics in other areas of the city for future security camera installations
Staff presented the projects Wednesday to City Council, and while council members unanimously supported some projects, like the generator replacements for the police department, they questioned the necessity, and cost, of others. Council took no formal vote.
"I was at an event and they used vehicles to block off the entrances and I'm thinking why don't we just put vehicles at the end instead of $2 million worth of bollards and use $2 million towards cleaning up lakes?" Vice Mayor Gary Price said. "I'd rather see $2 million spent on taking muck out of the lakes than on bollards when I think we could have other options."
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