June 23, 2017 Edition

County Commission splits 3-2 on approving a new 5% utilities tax but no millage increase for 2018 fiscal year

All department chiefs and the constitutional officers who sought budget hikes will be asked to inform the commission about affected projects if they were to halve their increases

It took about 70 minutes of discussion, two split votes and one failed motion, but the majority of the Sarasota County Commission this week opted to support Chair Paul Caragiulo in refusing to raise the county’s millage rate for the 2018 fiscal year. (Read more »)


City’s CRA settlement proposal includes asking county to help fund a new job training facility, make payments into the Newtown CRA Trust Fund and provide annual support for the Robert L. Taylor Complex

Majority of city board members also agree to city manager’s suggestion that a pocket park with parking spaces be created on the former Police Department site

Having engendered County Commission anger over their postponement of the discussion two weeks ago, the Sarasota City Commission spent about 75 minutes during its regular session on June 19, debating facets of a proposal in an effort to settle its dispute with the county over a final payment into the Downtown Sarasota Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Trust Fund. (Read more »)


Maintenance funding for county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program property to be increased as of the 2018 fiscal year

County Commission splits 3-2, with two board members concerned that an advisory council unanimously had urged it to wait a year on the decision so other options could be pursued

The vice chair of their Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC) implored them to wait another year before deciding whether to increase the percentage of money put toward maintenance of lands purchased through the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP). (Read more »)


Sheriff seeking no new personnel for the 2018 fiscal year, but rising health care and retirement expenses among reasons for 2.85% budget increase

Crime has decreased 53% in the county over the past eight years, with command staff working to make the best use of its resources, sheriff and chief deputy say

Over the past eight years, overall crime has decreased 53% in Sarasota County, largely a result of the intelligence-led policing philosophy that has been the hallmark of Tom Knight’s leadership as sheriff. That is the best record in the state, Major Paul Richard, who heads up the Sheriff’s Office’s Law Enforcement Division, told the Sarasota County Commission during its June 20 budget workshop. (Read more »)


Limited liability company seeking coastal setback variance to build house completely seaward of Sarasota County’s Gulf Beach Setback Line, which was established to protect property owners

Applicant also wants to install a paver driveway along part of Beach Access 10 as the road to the home

As sand has continued to accrete on Siesta Key’s beach, more and more property that once was completely or partly underwater has become increasingly attractive to developers. Still, within the past four years, the Sarasota County Commission has remained stalwart in denying petitions for Coastal Setback Variances to allow new homes to be built seaward of the county’s Gulf Beach Setback Line (GBSL) — the figurative line in the sand. (Read more »)


Tax collector still wrestling with need for more parking near the Terrace Building in downtown Sarasota

Barbara Ford-Coates also reports to the County Commission that she has received the first check from Airbnb

After the new Mid-County Tax Collector’s Office opens — tentatively in the spring of 2018 — and the Pompano Avenue office where driver tests are administered closes — customer parking challenges are expected to increase in the vicinity of the Terrace Building in downtown Sarasota, Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates told the Sarasota County Commission this week. (Read more »)


Homestead fraud cases have put property valued at more than $88 million back on the county’s tax roll

Firm assisting with that effort gets 30% of taxes paid as a result of investigations, Property Appraiser’s Office administrative director says

From October 2015 through May of this year, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office has been able to add property with a taxable value of $88,063,000 back to the tax roll, thanks to investigations into homestead fraud cases, Brian Loughrey, the office’s administrative director, told the County Commission this week. (Read more »)


Construction timeline confirmed for City of Sarasota’s 10th and 14th street roundabouts

Project expected to get underway no later than February 2018

Construction of the City of Sarasota’s next two roundabouts — at the 10th and 14th street intersections of U.S. 41 — is set to begin no later than February 2018, staff has confirmed with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). In a June 12 email to City Manager Tom Barwin, Assistant City Engineer Daniel Ohrenstein wrote that he also had confirmed that the timeline for the project is two years. (Read more »)


County to host workshops on revisions to transportation concurrency requirements

First one set for Friday, June 23, in downtown Sarasota

Sarasota County staff will hold three public workshops to gather public comments on revised transportation concurrency requirements, along with a draft resolution that would update the transportation analysis requirements associated with proposed new developments within the county, staff has announced. (Read more »)


Booker High’s Rachel Shelley earns recognition as Florida’s 2017 Principal of the Year

Award announced at event in Orlando this week

Booker High School Principal Rachel Shelley has been recognized with Florida’s 2017 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership, an honor “popularly known as Florida Principal of the Year [award],” the Sarasota County School District has announced. (Read more »)


Next installment of Civics 101 course to start July 27

Free programs will be conducted on Thursday evenings through Sept. 14

The next installment of Sarasota County’s popular Civics 101 program is set to begin on July 27 and continue through Sept. 14, the county has announced. (Read more »)


School district’s communications director to retire

Gary Leatherman was hired more than 10 years ago by Superintendent Gary Norris

Gary Leatherman, longtime director of the Sarasota County School District’s Communications and Community Relations Department, will retire on June 30, the district has announced. (Read more »)


An important note to SNL Tinypass (paid) subscribers:

If, in addition to your Sarasota News Leader Tinypass subscription, you also subscribe to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, you have been notified by the SHT that your Press+ account (which was bought by Piano Software, which also owns Tinypass) has been converted to a Tinypass account. This likely has caused some confusion when trying to sign into one publication when already signed into the other.
Our editors are having the same problem. We have contacted Piano support, and they do not yet have a good workaround. What we have found works best on a laptop/desktop is having two browsers (e.g.-Safari and Google Chrome or Internet Explorer and Firefox), with your SNL account signed in on one and your SHT account signed in on the other. You don’t have to sign out of either … you just switch between browsers.
If you use an iPad or iPhone (or other mobile device), the SHT is read on their Tecnavia app, while the SNL is read on your mobile device browser. Since two separate programs are used, you should not experience sign-in conflicts.
We apologize for the inadequacy of the Tinypass system to accommodate this overlap (something they should have anticipated, since they have a virtual monopoly on paywalls, and we can’t be the only two paid publications existing in the same market). We hope they develop a better way of handling this, and we will communicate that to you if they do.
In the meantime, thank you for your patience, and your support of The Sarasota News Leader!