October Update #1

There are several items I want to pass along to all of you. One is about Home Businesses. The City Council is now studying if these need regulating. At this time the city code says none are permissible. However, with todays technology most feel having a computer and a phone and fax at home is not classified as a business. So is permitting necessary for ..A piano teacher giving lessons in her home to students, an artist painting in her own studio, a retired person fixing clocks in his garage, a clock maker fixing watches and clocks in his den…well you can see where this is going. These types of activities that are not intrusive to neighbors and neighborhoods should be left alone and out of local governmental control. The overall trend by the various association presidents in Naples was that this is not broken so there is no need to fix it.

Drop program..One of the things that the city was not able to delete in the negotiations with the city police was the drop program. It works like this. Officer X is 50 and will be eligible for retirement this year. He makes $100,000 a year. His retirement will be $70,000 per year. When the time comes to retire he elects to do so. His retirement benefits then start at the $70,000 per year. However, he also may elect to continue working for up to 5 years at his present salary. (if the city agrees) so in the next 5 years his retirement goes into a retirement fund. (5 x 70 or $350.000) he continues to earn his $100,000 salary. so another $500,000. At the end of the 5 years he gets the $350,000 and continues to draw his $70,000 per year as retirement and has earned an additional $500,000 as salary.


New hires will not get this program but in order to get concessions on retirement benefits the city had to give in on this program.  

Another issue going on is about the city of Naples residents subsidizing the county projects that are funded out of the general fund (everyone in the county) instead of taxing the area users. An example is that the county (commissioner Jim Colletta ) is planning a 3 million dollar park in the Corkscrew area for the Golden Gate residents. This is being billed as a regional park and is using general fund moneys. This means that YOU as Naples residents are paying a portion of your ad valorum taxes to this park. Since property values are so much greater in town than out in Golden Gate, you can readily see that our residents will be paying a lot more for this park than the residents who live there and will actually use it. Few City of Naples residents will ever set foot on this property.

This same inequity is used by the county all the time for this type of project. Doug Finlay, one of the City council members, has taken it upon himself to delve into the budget and has given us glaring examples of how this system works. I am including some of his correspondence to me if you are interested in following the money. The following are his words..

“Below is a list of points which were taken from the Collier County budget for the current fiscal year (2010-11). The Board of County Commissioners as well as the Naples City Council are now working on next year’s budget. Both boards have decided to not exceed the current year’s mill levy. This means that due to declining property values, most property owners will see another reduction in ad valorem taxes. In some cases the tax reduction will be fairly noticeable, although it will depend on each property’s reduction in value. A minority of property owners will see a slight increase in property taxes due to the state of Florida’s “recapture” rule. Recapture affects those properties still having value in Save Our Homes. Anyway, you may find a few of the points below somewhat interesting.”

Doug Finlay

1. Total tourist tax revenue for 2011 is projected at $13,000,000, down from a peak of almost $15,000,000 in 2008.
2. The county museum budget is just over $1,600,000, of which $1,400,000 comes from Tourist Development Taxes (TDC). Annual visitors to the museums is around 85,000.
3. For county parks and recreation, $3,700.000 in ad valorem funding will come from the General Fund and $9,100,000 will come from the MSTU unincorporated fund.
4. Sun-n-fun lagoon attendance is about 150,000 per year. 80,000 to 90,000 County resident beach parking stickers are issued annually. Non resident, beach parking permits issued is about 4000.
5. Domestic Animal Services 2010-11 budget is almost $3,000,000. 6000-7000 animals are impounded annually with about 1500 adopted.
6. Interest due (annual) on Collier County debt is just over $31,000,000.
    Principal due (annual) on Collier County debt is just over $41,000.000.
    Total Collier County, debt service to maturity exceeds $1,000,000,000.
7. The County General Fund (GF) millage for 2010 and 2011 was 3.56. In 2008 and 2009 the county GF millage was 3.15. In 2007 the county GF millage was 3.58.  In 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 the county GF millage was 3.88.
8. Ad valorem property taxes supporting Conservation Collier have dropped from high of $12.5 million to just over $6 million in 2011. 
9. Total county General Fund, landscaping maintenance for roads is budgeted at just under $5,000,0000 for 2010-11.
10. Since 2007, county impact fee collections have declined by 82%
11. Total county impact fees for 2011 are budgeted at just over $19,000,000, down from a peak of $105,000,000 in 2007. Of those totals, road impact fees will be just under $11,000,000 (2011), down from a peak of $70,000,000 (2007).
12. The county is currently allocating $21,000,000 of General Fund, ad valorem to pay for debt service. This debt service was once paid by impact fees, but such payment was suspended due to the huge decline in impact fees. 
13. Despite having a General Fund revenues almost 10 times greater than the City of Naples ($315 million  vs $34 million), the Collier County’s General Fund, fund balance (reserve) at the end of 2011 will not be much different from the City of Naples—around $14 million. However, the total fund balance for all county funds is projected at $245,000,000, while the city of Naples fund balance for all funds is projected at $57,000,000.
14. Total operating budget for EMS is $24,100,000. EMS/ambulances fees for 2011 is projected at $9,800,000. General Fund subsidy is between $10 and $11 million. EMS has 172 employees including helicopter. EMS has about 24,000 annual transports. 24 ambulances are available for service, down from 26 in 2008. 2010-11 budget for EMS helicopter and pilots is $1,400,000 excluding a $275,000 capital maintenance cost.
15, Collier County had just over 3300 employees budgeted for 2010-11 down from 3900 in 2007. Of those totals the Sheriff (CCSO) has 1367 employees budgeted, almost equal to 2007. Note–budgeted employees does necessarily equal actual staffing.
16. Collier County has less than 10 employees per 1000 permanent residents. The City of Naples has about 20 employees per 1000 permanent residents.
17. The Collier County Airport Authority is subsidized by the General Fund to just over $500,000 in 2011.
18. Total budget for the County Constitutional Officers in 2010-11 are as follows:
     Appraiser–$6.6 million
     Supervisor of Elections–$3.1 million
     Clerk of Courts–$7.8 million
     Tax Collector–$19.5 million
     Sheriff (CCSO)–$146.8 million
19. Of the Sheriff’s total budget, the following is allocated to:
     Board of County Commissioners (security)– $4 million
     Detention & Correction (jail)–$35.5 million
     911 phone system–$3 million
20, Collier Area Transit (CAT), which began in 2002, has approximately 1,000,000 passengers per year. Fares account for 20% of cost recovery.

21. So far the county has converted just over half of the 95 miles of Golden Gate Estates lime rock roads to asphalt. Due to a shortage of funds, new lime rock paving has been deferred.

22. The county pays $107,000 for a Federal lobbyist and $80,000 for a state lobbyist.
23. The budget for the Collier County Medical Examiner in 2011 is just over $1,000,000.
24. The County Attorney’s office budget in 2011 is $3,000,000 (staff of 23).
25. The county expects to collect $18,000,000 in gas tax revenue in 2010-11, down from a peak of over $20,000,000 in 2005.
26. The total Collier County budget (net), is approximately $865 million. The General Fund budget is $315 million.
27. The Collier County budget totals 775 pages. The City of Naples budget is 325 pages. Both can be viewed at the respective web sites.


Terry Forshier
President Royal Harbor Association




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