Penny Taylor was very kind to meet with me and answer few questions, below is a brief recap of our conversation.

1. Does collier county “live within its budget”? How important is it to have a balanced budget?

It is important to have a balanced budget. Collier County government does a good job budgeting for the year. With property values rising for the fifth straight year and the county’s tax base increasing it is a good time to take care of the backlog of repairs that were not addressed during the recession starting in 2007. We must keep in mind, our population is growing and the taxpayer expects our level of service to be maintained.

2. What is your position on the off shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

I don’t support it. Accidents do happen.

3. How important to you is to protect our environment? Now there are more harmful chemicals allowed in the drinking water.

Environment is very important. People come to Collier County for the clean beaches and clean air. We have to protect the environment and we must develop with that in mind.

4. What is your position on the big farm polluters and the ensuing red tide problem?

If you look at the data you will see the sugar industry’s discharge is better south of Lake Okeechobee than what comes into the lake.  The sugar producers figured out how to clean the water. Now, north of Lake Okeechobee we have the cattle farming industry, and Florida is the second largest cattle producer in the United States. The pollution that comes from the cattle industry is a problem. The solution is to clean the water coming into Lake Okeechobee and from the North, as well as cleaning the water as it exits from Lake Okeechobee.  Everglades restoration needs the cleanest water possible.

5. What do you do to create more jobs in Collier County?

We need to bring 21st century manufacturing and technical jobs to Collier County.  I support Governor Rick Scott’s initiative for job creation.  We have to diversify our economy.  We cannot depend solely on tourism.

6. If the small businesses are the largest job creators how do we protect and encourage small business growth?

Small business will benefit through  a review and possible adjustment of specific regulations.  Regulations are important, though.  State and local incentives help small businesses.

7. The rent keeps getting higher, the salaries are not keeping up. How do we insure affordable housing for the workers in Collier County?

We were just discussing the issue of affordable housing last week. Taxpayers, developers, and the County must come together to solve this problem.  Not one entity should shoulder it alone.  One solution can be to have land already zoned.  This makes it easier for the developers.

8. How do we keep our taxes low?

We have done it.  We went through a recession and our taxes were not raised.  In the future, we will probably have a tax increase to address the many challenges we are facing today.  For example, infrastructure building and storm water management are high on the list of priorities.

9. How do we reduce crime in Collier County?

Our Sheriff does a good job in Collier County patrolling the neighborhoods through neighborhood policing.  However, there is a problem with prescription drug abuse that needs to be tackled through education and law enforcement.

Penny Taylor was very helpful and she definitely has my vote!