NAPLES — Naples’ annual town meeting went “exceptionally well,” with residents approving the $12.5 million municipal budget and all 51 warrant articles in an hour and a half.

Town Manager John Hawley said the April 30 meeting drew over 150 people, which “is a large number that we haven’t seen in several years.”

This year Naples moved its town meeting from a Saturday in June to a Tuesday in April.

The only financial article that was adjusted concerned Article 23, which was a citizen’s initiative that asked if the town would raise by taxation $10,000 for outside agencies for the Lake Region Explorer to cover annual funding.

The town had proposed funds of $4,250 for the bus service, so a compromise was reached at $8,500. 

At the meeting, “there was really very little debate. There were some comments, but very little debate,” Hawley said.

He said that while most of the ordinance changes were minor, the new “sign ordinance is really going to change how we allow for signage in the community.”

The ordinance will “essentially eliminate all electronic message board signage” because “the goal was to try to rein in the signs.”

The town also adopted a Codification of Land Use, which Hawley said involves combining land use ordinances into one document: “Instead of individual ordinances, they’re now sections of a complete ordinance.”

Naples also enacted a Marine Safety Enforcement Ordinance to give the Marine Safety Patrol more power to enforce local ordinance and state watercraft laws.

“We’ve reorganized our marine safety division with the intent to create a greater presence on our water bodies. Now this gives them a little bit more law enforcement capabilities,” Hawley said.

He was pleased that the meeting drew such a crowd, with a line snaking out the door and a need for more chairs.

“I was really glad to see the turnout because it’s always better to see more voices voting on budgets. You get the sense that more people approve of how we’re operating municipal government,” he said.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at jvaughan[email protected]

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