COLLIER COUNTY — When Collier County commissioners sit down Wednesday afternoon with Southwest Florida legislators, much of the conversation will sound familiar, and most of it will be about money.
Commissioners do not want unfunded mandates, oil drilling off of Southwest Florida’s beaches, and do not want new taxes or fees to impose on constituents.
An unfunded mandate is a rule or law passed by the state or federal government without providing the money to implement it.
These are not new issues, but have become even more pressing during these economic trying times, commissioners said.
Commissioner Tom Henning on Tuesday morning asked fellow commissioners to knock out any new revenue-earning requests off the list for the upcoming state legislative session.
They were referred to as revenue enhancement opportunities in an executive summary provided for commissioners. That includes a proposed real estate transfer fee and a dot.com tax for folks booking hotels over the Internet.
“These are the ones I want to take off: dot.com and indexing gas tax. I don’t know what else is hidden here, but that would be my motion,” Henning said.
Naples Area Board of Realtors spokesman Bill Poteet also asked the commission to omit any request for the 1 percent real estate transfer fee. The market is just beginning to come back, Poteet said.
Ellie Krier, NABOR head of government relations, agreed.
The market is so fragile, much like a new-born baby, Krier said. Or, in this case, a baby in critical care.
Commissioner Frank Halas kind of liked the real estate transfer fee.
“It’s one way to eliminate impact fees,” Halas suggested. Impact fees are imposed on new development to offset the effects of those new structures to build roads, extended irrigation and schools.
But it would hurt Collier’s rebounding market, Poteet said.
“What you’re proposing is counterproductive for our community,” Poteet said. It would be foolhardy to “go out there and put more roadblocks for potential purchasers,” Poteet said.
Commissioners agreed to refer the notion to NABOR members as well as those in the building industry.
Several commissioners supported the gas tax indexing proposal, which could, in theory, bring a greater share of road money back to Collier County.
Likewise, the idea of taxing dot.com businesses, especially out-of-towners booking local hotels via Internet, appealed to some commissioners.
However, Commissioner Tom Henning suggested that the panel limit requests to those things that can get accomplished.
Commissioner Fred Coyle agreed with Henning for a different reason.
How hotels collect money, and how much they collect from Internet bookings, is a discounting problem, not a tax problem, Coyle said.
Resident Doug Fee asked commissioners to consider resurrecting a revenue commission that existed up until four or five years ago, he said.
Commissioners will ask legislators to encourage state support for libraries, which could represent $200,000 for Collier’s branches.
Proposed legislation to endorse use of cameras to catch red-light runners is also high on the commission agenda. The county’s camera program is just shifting into high gear and getting a lot of attention from residents.
“From my standpoint it would be helpful for legislation to act on that,” County Attorney Jeff Klatzkow said.
Commissioners reiterated their opposition to oil drilling off of Florida’s coastlines. The position they will ask legislators to take back to Tallahassee is that Collier County does not support oil drilling within 25 miles of Florida’s beaches.
The pre-legislative session begins at 1 p.m. in County Commission chambers at 3301 U.S. 41 E.