3 To Know: City Council, citrus and home help
1. Officials: Citrus industry in Florida at risk
Florida lawmakers are warning that Americans better get used to drinking orange juice from Brazil if they can’t secure the federal help to rescue the state’s billion-dollar citrus industry ravaged by Hurricane Irma.
The Sunshine State is the No. 2 producer of oranges in the world after Brazil. Citrus grown in Florida primarily ends up in juice form on kitchen tables throughout the world. Hurricane Irma in September 2017 affected the state's citrus crop in a big way. Before Irma the total impact of citrus on Florida’s economy was $8.6 billion a year.
The September storm that pummeled the Sunshine State, flooded groves and uprooted trees, many of them only weeks from harvest. An estimated 421,176 acres of citrus production were affected by hurricane or tropical storm force winds in a state that provides 60 percent of the nation’s orange juice supply. The 31 million boxes of oranges Florida groves produced during the season ending Sept. 30 was the lowest since 1942, according to a Bloomberg News report.
Florida lawmakers are getting behind a proposal to add $2.5 billion in agriculture relief for the state to a $36.5 billion emergency disaster bill the House is expected to vote on this week. Nearly $761 million of that request would be direct aid for the state’s citrus industry to cover losses incurred from Irma. -- Ledyard King/USA Today Network-Florida
2. City Council meets Monday, Wednesday
The Marco Island City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m., Monday, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.
Council will hear from the Waterways Advisory Committee, the Beach Advisory Committee and the Water/Sewer Options Advisory Committee. It will also discuss a resolution approving the conditional use request for the construction of a nautical garage, a resolution authorizing the selection of roadways to be resurfaced and the priorities and funding requests for the Collier County state legislative delegation.
Council will meet again at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, to select the city manager finalists.
3. $3.3M to help repair, replace homes
Collier County will use $3.3 million it received from a state housing program to help residents rebuild or replace homes and trailers destroyed during Hurricane Irma.
The money comes from an annual grant Florida gives the county through its State Housing Initiatives Partnership program. During disasters and declared emergencies, lawmakers allow the normally rigid and tightly controlled money to be shifted around to help people rebuild and recover.
Collier County had $3.3 million left in SHIP money that hadn’t been spent or promised to certain programs over the next year. About half of it — $1.5 million — will be used to demolish and replace mobile homes.
Another $1.2 million will be used to pay for general repairs to single-family homes. Residents can receive a maximum award of $15,000 for home repairs. The money will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis and can be used only for repairs that FEMA won’t reimburse.
There are income restrictions to collect the money. By law, the county has to spend at least 60 percent of SHIP money on low-income residents, which in Collier includes families of four that earn $55,760 or less. The rest will be given to households that earn less than 120 percent of the median income, or $83,640 or less for a family of four. – Greg Stanley/Staff