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Forum on penny tax divides Collier voters

Posted at 10:42 PM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-12 22:26:49-04

Details of a 1% sales tax increase were rolled out at a meeting at Moorings Park Monday.  The proposal is on the November ballot.

"We we're asked to leave because they can't have signs, because it has to be non-partisan," said Kristine Meek of Naples, who opposes the tax.

But there was a partisan feel inside the meeting, where the Collier County Republican Party Chairman was leading the charge against the tax.

Supporters say it will raise a half-billion dollars over 7 years.  Almost 300 million of it would go toward expanding Vanderbilt Beach Road from Collier Boulevard to 8th Street Northeast.  

"What is a need, what is a want? and once we can have that honest discussion we can actually look at the projects that we are truthfully short on funding," said Collier GOP Chairman Ronald Kezeske.

Among the high ticket items that tax money will go to include new bridges and bridge replacements, new EMS sub-stations, a career and technical training center and mental health facility.

"The list was developed by working with the county on projects that had been backlogged during the recession," said Greater Naples of Commerce President Michael Dalby.

He says a sales tax, rather than a property tax is the most efficient way to fund the projects.

"30 percent of it or more would be paid for by tourists, visitors, and by those who work in Collier County, but don't necessarily live in Collier County," said Dalby.

But fulltime residents like Meek say the tax increase will hurt her art gallery.

"People ask in the door and ask what our sales tax is and that influences their decision to buy," said Meek.