Collier County proposes $10 mil in tourist taxes for beach preservation

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
FILE: Collier County beach. Credit: WINK News.

Southwest Florida is known for our beautiful beaches. Clear water and white sand drive tourists to our area. And now a proposed multi-million-dollar project would make sure that beauty doesn’t wash away.

Collier County, the City of Naples and the City of Marco Island want to use almost $10 million of tourist tax money in the next fiscal year to add sand and preserve our beaches.

“It does sound like a lot of money for sand,” neighbor Cheryl Zarillo said. “But without the sand, then we don’t have the beaches.”

The county plans add sand that would be enough to fill about 65,000 trash dumpsters. This is all in effort to preserve beaches along the coast. Seventy percent of the money would go toward buying and hauling the sand.

Dianne Jackson said it’s a good investment, especially coming from visitor’s pockets.

“Our beaches are what people come to see,” Jackson said. “So you have to keep them maintained.”

People like Kristin Lagalante, who said she has visited the area for decades, does not mind the county using taxpayer money from tourists but said it needs to be a group effort.

“I think everyone should chip in and pay for the beach,” Lagalante said.

The county wants to use the remaining 30 percent of the project money for dredging inlets, removing algae and rocks along public access points, trash cleanup, monitoring sea turtles and sea birds as well as upkeep of vegetation.

Many in the area admit the continued need to spend money to add sand to our beaches is a viscous cycle. But people also agree the preservation of the beach is necessary.

“We need the tourist industry desperately,” Zarillo said.

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