Nesting sea turtles would have to share the beach with construction crews under Collier County's proposal for its next major beach renourishment planned for 2013.
The county's Coastal Zone Management Coordinator Gary McAlpin gave the Naples City Council on update on the project at the council's workshop Monday.
He said the county plans to apply for a permit for crews to start the work on Sept. 15, 2013, six weeks before the official end of nesting season, and allow crews to work as late as June 15, 2014, six weeks after the official start of nesting season.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reviewers have given the county plan the green light, citing the track record of the county's sea turtle protection program to minimize impacts to nesting sea turtles.
McAlpin said historical nesting records indicate that the county would have to move 15 sea turtle nests in the path of renourishment equipment by starting in mid-September. Relocated nests have a 70 percent survival rate, he said.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has endorsed the county plan as a compromise that will avoid peak nesting season rather than the working throughout the summer, the county's original plan.
Naples Natural Resources Manager Mike Bauer said he wishes the county did not have to encroach on sea turtle nesting season but that millions of dollars are at stake with the added flexibility.
The size of the 2013 beach project has yet to be determined and is dependent on funding. Under one option, the county would seek a permit for a $31 million project, but budget projects show the county's beach fund will have only $16.5 million on hand in 2013.
McAlpin said project planners hope to bridge the gap with cost savings by combining the project with a beach renourishment on Longboat Key and with funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Fire Chief: Emergency calls at record high
Naples emergency calls were at a record high in 2011, and the city's fire department is stretched too thin, Naples Fire Chief Stephen McInerny told the City Council on Monday morning.
During a budget workshop at City Hall, McInerny requested a $900,000 operating budget increase, or about 11 percent, to hire 12 fire and rescue personnel to staff a new Engine Co. 3.
"We haven't kept pace with what's going on," McInerny said.
Naples firefighters responded to 97 fires in 2011, the busiest year for fires in the past 10 years, compared to 60 fires in 2010, a 59 percent increase, according to city figures. McInereny called some of the 2011 incidents "nickel and dime fires."
Overall response calls went from about 4,400 in 2010 to 4,800 in 2011, an almost 9 percent increase, also the largest in the past 10 years, the figures show.
Councilman Sam Saad grilled McInerny on the reasons for the increases and questioned the need for McInerny's budget increase request.
"You have done a spectacular job of protecting the city with what you've got," Saad said. "You're handling it. No buildings have burnt to the ground."
More review needed on pay study
Naples' pay and compensation study is heading back to the drawing board.
City Council on Monday said a yearlong pay and classification study completed by the Archer Company did not meet council's expectations because there was little comparison to similar private sector jobs.
"When we had this discussion, the most important part was the private sector," said Mayor John Sorey. "When we put out the scope of work, the private sector was a key part. As far as I'm concerned, it is not acceptable."
The study was meant to look at salary and compensation packages, as well as make sure city employees' jobs are properly classified. This was the first comprehensive pay and classification study since 1997.
The study showed that some city employees were over paid, while others were underpaid. The city estimated the cost to adjust salaries of those employees who were below the minimum is more than $24,800.
Council members asked Monday that consultants go back and look at how Naples total compensation package compared to the total compensation package of both private and public sector employees.
Staff writer Jenna Buzzzacco-Foerster contributed to this story.