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Collier Commissioners vote on changes to Conservation Collier trust

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 26, 2024

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla — Collier County Commissioners voted Thursday on an amendment to the Conservation Collier Program which the board had diverted funds from last year.

Conservation Collier started in 2003, after most voters agreed to increase taxes to support it. Since then, it has amassed millions of dollars aimed at preserving and maintaining natural lands.

However, a controversial move saw commissioners agree to redirect nearly $60 million from the fund in 2023 for other general fund expenditures they decided would be in the best interest of the public.

During Thursday's meeting, commissioners voted on an amendment that clarified Conservation Collier funds could, in fact, be diverted to emergencies declared by the board.

Gordon Brumwell, a biologist with a Ph.D. who addressed the commissioners about the importance of conservation efforts, expressed trust in the current board but cautioned against the vague language regarding fund diversion.

"People actually benefit from nature, and I think a lot of that gets lost in Collier County," Brumwell told Fox 4.

He further emphasized the need for tighter language, particularly due to potential turnover on the board in the future.

"I don’t have much of a problem with them being locally in charge of what’s an emergency and what’s not. My concern is that board turnover. Things change over time. I wish they locked down that language," Brumwell explained..

Commissioners also voted to ensure that any future borrowed funds would have to be repaid "as soon as practicable."

However, discussions regarding the nearly $60 million taken out from the fund last year are slated for a later date.