3 To Know: School Board approves $1.1 billion budget

Marco Eagle

1. Collier County School Board approves $1.1 billion budget

The Collier County School Board voted Tuesday to approve a $1.1 billion budget and a slightly lower property tax rate.

The new budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year is an increase over last year’s $1.05 billion budget.

Stack of school books and apple on desk in empty classroom

The board adopted a tax rate of more than $5 for every $1,000 of assessed home value. The owner of a home valued last year at $400,000, with a homestead exemption, will pay almost $1,936 in taxes this year — about $15 more than last year because of a projected increase in property values.

The board’s adopted tax rate of about $5.0490 per every $1,000 of assessed home value is a decrease from last year’s rate of $5.1220.

Board members Roy Terry, Stephanie Lucarelli and Erick Carter voted in favor of the new tax rate. Kelly Lichter and Erika Donalds voted against it. Donalds, who opposed an additional tax for capital improvements, was the sole board member to vote against the final budget.

“There should be a specific purpose for every dollar you take out of a taxpayer’s pocket,” she said.

2. Gillum leads DeSantis, says chamber poll

Andrew Gillum leads Ron DeSantis by 4 percentage points in the Florida gubernatorial race, according to a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released Wednesday. Gillum leads DeSantis 47 percent to 43 percent and leads in all major media markets except Jacksonville, the poll shows.

Among respondents, 2 percent favor someone else and 8 percent are still undecided.

The poll also shows 48 percent believe Florida is headed in the right direction, compared to 37 percent that believe otherwise.

This is the chamber’s first statewide poll since the Aug. 28 primary election.

The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error. Pollsters interviewed 514 likely voters from Sept. 6-9, immediately after lieutenant governors were chosen.

Gillum, a Democrat and Tallahassee mayor, chose Winter Park businessman Chris King. DeSantis, a Republican who resigned from Congress this week to pursue his campaign full-time, chose Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez.

“This is an interesting poll because most voters have learned a little about Ron DeSantis, yet most voters don’t know Andrew Gillum because he is a surprise winner,” said Marian Johnson, the chamber’s senior vice president of political strategy.

3. Florida panther found dead in Collier; year’s total now 21

A Florida panther was found dead Monday at Immokalee Road and Wild Turkey Drive in Collier County.

panther sign

The panther, a 4-year-old female, died after being struck by a vehicle, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The total number of Florida panthers found dead this year is now 21, including 19 killed by vehicles, according to figures from the FWC website.

For more information, visit the Panther Pulse page on the FWC website.

Report injured or dead panthers to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).