February 24, 2017 Edition

Siesta Promenade traffic studies and other scope of work should be completed by end of March, Benderson’s director of development says

Pine Shores resident continuing to argue that County Commission is in violation of policy for Critical Area Plans

With a consultant for Benderson Development getting traffic studies underway for the firm’s proposed Siesta Promenade project, questions remain about whether the Sarasota County Commission is following the appropriate steps in considering the mixed-use development for a Critical Area Plan (CAP). (Read more »)


County staff proposes alternative to state process in resolving conflict with city over CRA Trust Fund payment

City manager says a draft resolution will be on the City Commission’s next agenda

Sarasota County staff members called off a second informal meeting with city staff on the topic, but they have suggested the City Commission consider an alternative process for resolving a dispute over a final county payment into the Downtown Sarasota Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Trust Fund. (Read more »)


County commissioners vent over city’s continuing failure to turn over Ringling Boulevard site and delays with county efforts to sell another downtown parcel

County property at 20 N. Washington Blvd. the focus of a third Invitation to Negotiate process

County commissioners have voiced renewed frustration about the fact that the City of Sarasota never has turned over to Sarasota County the Ringling Boulevard site of the former Sarasota Police Department. During the board’s Feb. 17 budget workshop, Commissioner Charles Hines also expressed irritation that county staff has not discussed with the commission how best to market “a prime piece of property” in downtown Sarasota that the county owns, with two attempts to sell it over the past few years having failed. (Read more »)


City Commission adopts updated mobility impact fees at maximum calculated level

Motion also directs staff to determine standards for classifying new construction as ‘low-income’ and ‘very low-income,’ with resulting lower fees

On a unanimous vote this week, the Sarasota City Commission approved the implementation of updated mobility impact fees at the maximum calculated rate. However, the Feb. 21 motion by Commissioner Susan Chapman excluded any credit for construction of “attainable” housing, as proposed. (Read more »)


Sarasota County School District staff backs away from proposing use of impact fee revenue to pay for furniture and fixtures at the new North Port technical college

Two board members raise concerns about using impact fee funds for anything but purchases of land and school facility construction

After two Sarasota County School Board members raised concern about the plan during their Feb. 21 work session, incoming Superintendent Todd Bowden proposed that no impact fee revenue would be used to pay for furniture and equipment at the new Suncoast Technical College in North Port. (Read more »)


City Commission agrees to set up $2.5-million ‘insurance policy’ fund to mitigate any damage to Siesta Key from dredging of Big Pass

Motion includes stipulation that if Siesta Key nonprofits refuse to drop their legal challenges, the fund will be dissolved after 90 days

With the unanimous approval of the Sarasota City Commission on Feb. 21, city staff will move $2.5 million in Tourist Development Tax revenue into a special fund “to serve as an insurance policy to mitigate any impact to Siesta Key” as a result of the proposed dredging of Big Sarasota Pass to renourish about 1.6 miles of South Lido Key. (Read more »)


County financial staff predicting revenues will not exceed expenditures until the 2027 fiscal year

No budget deficit foreseen until the 2019 fiscal year, and county administrator calls the $3.5-million figure manageable

The latest projections show that Sarasota County’s General Fund revenues will not exceed expenditures until the 2027 fiscal year, Deputy County Administrator and Chief Financial Management Officer Steve Botelho told the county commissioners during their Feb. 17 workshop. (Read more »)


County Commission agrees to fine-tune ideas for capital project savings through one-on-one sessions with staff

Board proceeds with purchase of building to relocate Sheriff’s Office staff and science divisions

Before they jointly discuss the potential deferment of major capital projects — to free up funding for higher priorities — the Sarasota County commissioners have decided they first will talk one-on-one with county staff to seek any extra information they need and offer suggestions. (Read more »)


School Board members divided over funding about $5.7 million for new personnel that the incoming superintendent has proposed

Todd Bowden recommends more assistant principals in middle and high schools, as well as career advisors in the middle schools

Anticipating that the Sarasota County School District will not see increased funding from the state for the next year, School Board members were divided this week about endorsing the full complement of new employees — at a cost of about $5.7 million — that incoming Superintendent Todd Bowden has proposed. (Read more »)


Timber harvesting and palm or palmetto frond harvesting among activities proposed to generate more revenue from Myakka River State Park

Draft updated management plan also calls for new $4 million ecotourism facility

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is proposing that timber harvesting, fuel and stump harvesting, and palm or palmetto frond harvesting in Myakka River State Park “could be accommodated in a manner that would be compatible and not interfere with the primary purpose of resource-based outdoor recreation and conservation.” (Read more »)


Lewis slated to take Jonathan Evans’ place as assistant county administrator

Another assistant administrator — Mark Cunningham — a finalist for Pasco County administrator

North Port City Manager Jonathan Lewis has accepted a conditional offer to serve as an assistant Sarasota County administrator, his future boss, Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer, announced on Feb. 21. (Read more »)


Baltimore Orioles generate $89 million in year-round economic impact on Sarasota County, analysis shows

The figure is more than twice what the team projected in negotiations to move Spring Training operations to the community

An independent analysis commissioned by Sarasota County Government has concluded that the Baltimore Orioles generate approximately $89 million in annual economic impact on the county, the team has announced. (Read more »)


Crews in city of Sarasota installing sensors in parking areas this week for new app

After about three to four months of testing, the app will go live, letting drivers use smart phones to check on availability of parking spaces, city manager says

Through the end of this week, people may see a three-man crew working in public parking spaces throughout the City of Sarasota, City Manager Tom Barwin noted in his Feb. 17 newsletter. “They’re installing electronic sensors that will provide information on parking availability,” Barwin wrote. (Read more »)


‘Chalk the Park’ event planned for all members of the public on March 5 at Benderson Park

Free event also will include opportunities to learn to row and do stand-up paddleboarding

The public is invited to “Chalk the Park” on Sunday, March 5, at Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota County has announced. The Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department will host this free, family-friendly event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, a news release explains. (Read more »)


Sarasota County’s tax bond rating upgraded by New York investment firm

Moody’s action regards bonds used for the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program

At the very end of the Sarasota County Commission’s first budget workshop of the year — held Feb. 17 — County Administrator Tom Harmer said he was happy to announce positive financial news: New York-based Moody’s Investor Services had announced that Sarasota County’s limited ad valorem tax bond rating had been upgraded from A3 to Aaa. (Read more »)


County launches neighborly competition

Program designed to encourage measures to enhance quality of life

Sarasota County staff is challenging neighborhoods to be greener, healthier and more involved. Sarasota County’s University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and Sustainability Department, the Florida Department of Health and the county’s Neighborhood Services Division have collaborated on a tool that will help neighborhood leaders enhance the quality of life for residents, a news release explains. (Read more »)


Easy design concepts to make homes more livable for the aging and disabled to be focus of county classes

Sessions to expand upon county’s Universal Design and Visitability incentive program

“Homeowners, designers and others looking for simple steps to make homes more livable for aging and disabled individuals are invited to new classes being offered by Sarasota County Government” and the nonprofit Universal Design Coalition, the county has announced. (Read more »)