Frequently Asked Questions & answers

Where can I find information on applying to the Infrastructure Surtax Citizen Oversight Committee?

The new Infrastructure Surtax Citizen Oversight Committee is seeking applications for seven open seats: five members shall be residents of each of the five commission districts, and two members shall be at-large members. Applicants should have background and experience related to financial or business management.


Residents interested in applying for positions on the new Infrastructure Surtax Citizen Oversight Committee may obtain an application by calling (239) 252-8400, or by filling out an application on the county’s website at https://www.colliercountyfl.gov/your-government/advisory-boards/online-advisory-board-application.


What is a discretionary sales surtax?

It is a local option surtax allowed by State law where individual Florida counties may ask voters to authorize a discretionary sales surtax or otherwise known as the local option sales tax. Local governments use money raised from the local option sales tax to pay for authorized projects. 

  

How will the process work?

The local government, Collier Board of County Commissioners, voted to place a one-cent infrastructure sales surtax referendum on the November 6, 2018 General Election ballot. If approved by a majority of voters, the one-cent is expected to generate, on average, $70 million a year, or $490 million over seven years. 


Approximately ninety percent (90%) of the proceeds will be allocated to the Collier County identified infrastructure projects to fund transportation, other capital improvements, and projects of community Interest. The remaining revenue, approximately ten percent (10%), will be split amongst the three cities, based on population, for identified projects from those jurisdictions.


How will the money be used?

The money will be used to fund tangible capital projects. The Collier BCC approved a project list that spells out how the County’s portion of revenue, an estimated $420 million, would be allocated. The list sets aside:

  •  $191 million for transportation projects, including improvements to sidewalks, bridges, and several key roadways; 
  • $139 million for facilities and other capital projects, including the Sheriff's Facilities,  Big Corkscrew Regional Park, and hurricane resiliency projects; and
  • $90 million for community priorities, including a career and technical training center, mental health and addiction treatment facility, and a workforce housing land trust fund.

Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City will split approximately $70 million over the course of the tax, which will be used for city-specific projects.


How long will the sales surtax last?

The one-cent sales surtax could potentially expire ahead of the 7 year time-frame if the $490M total is collected earlier. If this does not occur, the sales surtax would automatically expire at the end of 7 years. It cannot be extended unless voters have the opportunity to vote on another referendum.  


Why do a majority of Florida communities prefer a local option sales tax?

The local option sales tax is another diversified funding source that captures revenue from tourists and visitors.  It is primarily used to fund capital infrastructure needs. 

  • A sales surtax requires approval by a majority of voters before it can be enacted. 
  • The sales surtax will have a definitive end date unless extended by voter approval. In Collier County this would be either after seven years, or the tax would be collected until the end of the year that the $490 million goal has been reached.
  • Revenues are restricted from being used for expenditures on operational expenses such as salaries and overhead. The revenue from the tax can only be used for tangible capital assets.
  • A citizen oversight committee will be established to ensure revenue raised is spent as intended.
  • The sales surtax applies to tourists and visitors as well as residents. Collier County estimates approximately 30% of sales tax revenue will be generated by these tourists and visitors.


What is a one-cent sales surtax applied to, and what is exempt?

The one-cent infrastructure sales surtax will be applied to all transactions subject to the state sales tax.    (See  the Florida Department of Revenue Fact Sheet) 

  • Groceries, medical services, medication, or fuel would be exempt from the tax.
  • The tax would only be collected on the first $5,000 of large purchases of tangible personal property, or a  maximum of $50 on a single purchase.
  • Purchases of services, service warranties, real property and transient accommodations would be subject to the tax for the full amount.

How does Collier County compare to neighboring communities?

61 of 67 Florida counties have approved a local option sales tax to address community needs. Approval of the one-cent infrastructure sales tax would put Collier County’s sales tax in line with Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, Manatee, Miami-Dade and Sarasota counties.


Lee County leaders have placed a half-cent sales surtax on the November 2018 ballot for education issues.


Why aren't impact fees being used for the identified transportation projects?

Impact fees are being used but the collection of these fees is not keeping pace with the need.

  • Collier County charges the maximum allowed rate for impact fees but not enough revenue is collected to meet the needs.
  • Impact fees may only be used to fund capacity improvements necessitated by growth, for example, added lanes, new roads, etc.. Several projects on the list are not eligible to receive funding from impact fees. Backlog projects, operational improvements or stand-alone bike lanes or sidewalk projects cannot utilize impact fees.
  • In 2007 impact fees collected for roads were approximately $70M. Following the recession these impact fees have had an average annual collection just under $12M a reduction of approximately 75%, resulting in project deferrals and an increased backlog of projects. The current impact fee collections are not keeping pace with the need and do not cover the cost of these roadway projects which have an approximate total shortfall of $114M. It would take 9.5 years to cover this shortfall with impact fee collections, assuming no new projects.
  • Since 2005, the County’s general fund has loaned approximately $100 million to various impact fee funds excluding road impact fees.


Is borrowing money an option?

Yes, the County can borrow money. However, if Collier County were to borrow money to complete the identified projects, the interest costs on the loan would be between $150-$200 million depending on the interest rate and term of the bond. The money required to pay off the loan would be taken from existing general fund taxes and fees and may require additional taxes and fees.


Are these projects necessary?

Yes, Collier County has grown by 65,000 more full-time residents in the past 11 years and is projected to continue to grow by two (2) percent annually.


The Board of County Commissioners have identified these projects as high priority in Collier County in order to maintain the adopted level of service in the community.


The sales surtax will allow these projects to be completed earlier than the County could otherwise do. 

  • Transportation projects: 
    • Four of the eight transportation projects (Vanderbilt Beach Road Extension, Pine Ridge Road at Livingston Road improvements, Randall Boulevard improvements, and Airport Road widening) are part of the county’s long-range transportation plan. 
    • The eleven bridge replacements would address the replacement of bridges built in 1948, 1951, or 1953 all of which are past their expected life span. 
    • The eleven new bridges in the Golden Gate Estates area will enhance area mobility and accessibility.
    • The sidewalk project would add sidewalks in key areas throughout the County and increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Facilities/capital projects
    • The Sheriff’s Forensic Evidence Building would provide secure storage space for evidence, including drugs and weapons and provide security restrictions and the appropriate climate controls. 
    • The Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park is a 49-acre park in northeastern Collier that has been in the works for years. 
    • The County also is planning to replace HVAC systems well over their useful life, including one at the East Naples Library, the Courthouse, and the Vineyards.  
    • The County will improve and replace existing Domestic Animal Services buildings to provide relief for animals.
    • To mitigate the effects of hurricanes on infrastructure the County will harden structures and provide generators for backup power at facilities.
  • Community priorities
    • The career and technical training center would expand vocational training options for students and adults in the community. 
    • The County would also create workforce housing land trust fund to hold land in perpetuity and incentivize the construction of homes for workers, seniors and people with disabilities. 
    • The revenue would provide the local match to incentivize a veterans' nursing home in Collier County.
    • The County would use revenue to support the David Lawrence Center to build an expanded mental health and addiction treatment facility.