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The Clerk’s Report – March 2023

February was a great month with our Valentine’s Day group wedding! Look inside our March 2023 newsletter for some great photos of our attendees. A BIG THANK YOU to our sponsors that helped to make this event possible, please thank them if you can use their services, they are truly community partners.  

I just returned from the statewide Clerk’s Executive meeting where we discussed Clerks’ budgets and pending legislation that might provide some relief.  House Bill 977 and Senate Bill 1130 have been put forward to provide funds to help cover Clerk’s services. Here in Collier County our Court Budget for 2023 is over $3 million LESS than our budget in 2007, even though we have provided over a million dollars in revenue to fund other Clerks’ Offices around the state. We have reduced our court staff by 34% in the last 2 years to be able to meet these reduced budget levels. With our continued growth and cost increases we cannot continue to provide court services at current levels. The Board of County Commissioners funded over $400,000 this year to support our current staffing. This is an added burden on our local taxpayers for court services that are to be state funded. Even if the current bills pass, there is no guarantee that Collier will be able to keep the funds we generate to operate.  

On a different issue, discussions about the importance of having affordable housing for Collier County’s essential workforce have become a “hot topic” once again. As someone working with over 200 employees in my office, I understand the strain of current housing costs on our livelihood. Communities, organizations, and residents have been sounding the drums, demanding that the government act, but we are all “the government”. Read my full commentary in this month’s newsletter. 

At the February 14th Board of County Commissioners meeting, the ongoing projects in the government-acquired Golden Gate Golf Course Property were discussed. While planned projects include the development of “Affordable” Housing, a State Veterans Nursing Home, and a golf & entertainment complex that will benefit the community, costs to the taxpayers may be much higher than anticipated. Significant issues involving taxpayer dollars were of concern with these projects including a request to waive impact fees, a request that “the government” shoulder all costs associated with soil testing and remediation that were to be covered by the developer of the proposed housing, and suggestions that “the County” should shoulder all unknown costs associated with soil testing and remediation for the $29 million parcel purchased in 2017. See inside this issue for more details.  

Operation Greenlight, the annual driver’s license reinstatement program, is scheduled for Saturday, March 25th. Drivers will have an opportunity to fully pay overdue court fines or apply for a financial plan without extra collection fees. Citizens who would like to once again receive the ‘green light’ to get back on the road are encouraged to join us at the Heritage Bay Satellite Office.

We are sharing another significant part of the courthouse’s history with changes in jury selection over the past 100 years in preparation for the upcoming Collier County Centennial Celebration. I hope you enjoy these glimpses into Collier County’s history. Let me know your thoughts!