As a resident of Marco Island for the past 12 years I was delighted to attend the City Council Candidate Forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Realtors.
It became obvious who the best City Council candidates are after the first question that was given to each of the candidates. As a Florida resident I recognize that the only reason why I do not have a State Income Tax is because of tourism. As a Collier County resident who loves the beautiful beaches and beach park facilities, I feel especially grateful for the tourist who is the only ones who have to pay the bills to keep our beaches re-nourished and maintain our beach park facilities. The tourist bares this expense via the bed tax collected primarily by hotels, (and by the way we are one of the only coastal counties in Florida that does not require residents to participate in that expense).
As a Marco Island resident, I am also especially grateful for the tourist as I would not have as many of the choices of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment options as these businesses could not exist on a “part time” resident population. Jerry Gibson, Frank Recker, and Larry Honig gave the strongest support for this critical economic driver of all the candidates. Paul Meyer and Wayne Waldack also gave a supporting response and then there were three candidates Larry Sacher, Duane Thomas and Amadeo Petricca whose responses would suggest that they would like to restrict tourism on Marco Island.
What I found so interesting, Larry Sacher mentioned throughout the night on multiple occasions that we have been facing one of the worst economic times ever and his one and only response to that was talking about cutting costs. For Mr. Sacher and Mr. Petricca who touted their financial acumen, I find it a bit strange that they would restrict the one significant and relevant source of income to the island (estimated to be one-fourth of a billion dollars of economic impact from tourism to the island per Jerry Gibson). The short-sightedness of Mr. Sacher, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Petricca, is also glaringly obvious that with over 2,000 available homes and condos for sale it will be primarily tourism that will generate potential buyers of these units and provide a greater ad valorem tax base for the City without increasing density.
As a resident of Marco Island it is clear to me that this election could materially impact our financial security and quality of life if we make the right choices. Jerry Gibson, Frank Recker and Larry Honig understand that as a Marco Island resident we will have a lower tax burden, increased home values, and a broader ad valorem tax base to support City services and finally greater choices of experiences that impact the quality of our lives by supporting the most significant economic driver for our community.