The next steps toward increasing the tourist tax by 1 percent and building an amateur sports complex are before Collier County commissioners during a week when Lee County School Board members continue sorting through the budget hand dealt them by the Florida Legislature.
Another significant date on the calendar this week is Friday when Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson Bradshaw’s official retirement day arrives. New President Michael Martin, former chancellor of Louisiana State University, then takes over as FGCU’s leader as of Saturday.
FGCU is grappling this year with a low ranking that cut into its performance funding from the state and only partial legislative support for its academic pursuits for 2017. However, that shouldn’t detract from all that Bradshaw has delivered to the university in his 10-year tenure.
In 2007, he took over a university that had seen an administrative scandal and guided its growth in academic programs during campus expansion. FGCU’s student enrollment grew during Bradshaw’s term from about 9,400 to nearly 15,000 for a campus that transformed from a commuter institution to a destination university. Notably, its endowment value soared during his time from $47 million to $83 million.
FGCU’s board of trustees, which honored Bradshaw earlier this month, meets by conference call at 10 a.m. Thursday from Edwards Hall, Room 309. The trustees’ agenda includes discussion of tuition and fees, the ethics policy and legislative-related matters.
Collier County Commission
County government staff earlier this month delivered commissioners a well-crafted plan to invest more in beaches and methodically pursue building a tournament-oriented sports complex near Interstate 75 and Collier Boulevard.
The next two steps in the process could come Tuesday when commissioners decide whether to schedule approval of an ordinance that would increase today’s 4 percent tax on hotel rooms and short-term rentals to 5 percent and borrow $12 million to buy land for the complex with a targeted closing by early 2018.
The additional bed tax percentage would provide $3.75 million yearly to pay off money borrowed to complete the sports complex, which we consider a valuable diversification to the tourism segment of Collier’s economy. The complex also would be available for local folks to use, helping alleviate a current shortage of recreational fields.
Another plus: the ordinance would change the formula for spending some $26.25 million raised from the 5 percent bed tax. More money would be distributed to beach projects. Beaches now get $9 million or 41.3 percent of the collections at the 4 percent rate while promotions get $10.2 million or 46.7 percent. The new formula would provide $11.2 million annually to beaches (42.5 percent) and $8.8 million (33.6 percent) to promotions.
When commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the government complex on U.S. 41 East, they also are scheduled to:
+ Consider moving forward with negotiations for the county’s utility to acquire the water-sewer system in Golden Gate from the Florida Governmental Utility Authority. A staff analysis says about 3,700 water and 2,300 sewer customers are served by the authority. A memo states current Golden Gate customers “with consumption of 5,000 gallons monthly would see a decrease in their bill of $39.27, or 30.2 percent.”
+ Review a list of several county-owned properties that have been suggested by staff and advisory committees for possible use for housing that’s more affordable to working folks and seniors. The properties range in size from 5 acres to undetermined portions of two future park sites that total 59 acres and 121 acres.
Lee School Board
Board members have a discussion meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday during which they will look at updated figures for their proposed 2017-18 budget. A staff memo shows that after the Legislature approved a revised education budget during the special session, the district is in line for an overall $21 million increase or about 1.4 percent more in per student funding.
At its ensuing regular meeting at 6 p.m., also at the Colonial Boulevard district headquarters, the board could approve a site for a high school in the Gateway area.
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