COLLIER COUNTY — Collier County commissioners want to crack down on questionable out-of-town veterans’ groups that collect money on local roads. Commissioners are asking the state to audit a couple of organizations that periodically come into the community.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to have County Manager Leo Ochs prepare a letter to send to the state’s Department of Consumer Services asking for the audits.
Two groups -- the Pompano Beach-based Veterans in Need Foundation and a disabled veterans’ group out of Broward County -- have caused the concern.
The board approved a second motion, by a 3-2 vote, for county staff to start working on amendments to the county’s solicitation ordinance to require that people seeking donations for causes be required to have signs and register with the county.
In addition, the motion will require that solicitors have proof of permission to be on private property.
Coyle said Hiller’s efforts in recent months to solve the problem of questionable veterans’ groups bypassed county staff. Hiller has been working with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and veterans representatives to tighten up the county’s ordinance to weed out veterans’ charities that are not welcome because of uncertainty of where the money goes.
“A lot of private citizens have been involved,” she said. “It’s been a very positive initiative.”
Hiller’s group proposes requiring solicitors to pay for a sheriff’s deputy or some other public safety vehicle to be present at collection sites and for the individuals to carry proper identification at all times.
She said her group’s proposal was still being drafted and she all along intended to bring it to the county manager and attorney before putting it on the agenda.
She pointed out existing law already provides that people who don’t have permission to be on private property can be cited by law enforcement agencies for trespassing.
Hiller said she expects she can bring her proposal to the county in November or December. Henning backed Hiller.
Coyle initially wanted a temporary six-month moratorium on all solicitations to allow fire fighters and other known groups to find alternative collection sites other than road right-of-ways.