May 20, 2016 Edition

County Commission scraps referendum plans for November and asks staff about funding South County projects through other means

Board members grill staff over cost per square foot for the proposed South County Courthouse

The Sarasota County Commission this week asked its staff to come back in June with more detailed breakdowns of costs for a new South County courthouse and renovations to the R.L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice — including the potential of surtax revenue and other sources of money to help pay for the projects without having to hold a public referendum. (Read more »)


Nonprofit organization opposed to proposal for dredging Big Sarasota Pass finally gets questions answered by county and city staff

In the meantime, city engineer says she has no specific information about when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will submit final documents required by the state for the Lido Renourishment Project permit

A nonprofit organization on Siesta Key that has been fighting a proposal to dredge Big Sarasota Pass to renourish Lido Key’s eroded beach over a 50-year period finally received answers this week to questions it submitted in March to the Sarasota County Commission, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. (Read more »)


Comprehensive Treatment Court for the mentally ill wins unanimous City Commission support

County Commission, three foundations, the Downtown Improvement District and The Salvation Army pledge support in effort to win state grant for three-year program

On a unanimous vote this week, the Sarasota City Commission committed to approximately $442,000 over three years in an effort to help win a state grant for a proposed jail diversion program for the mentally ill. Immediately after the action in support of the Comprehensive Treatment Court (CTC), the Commission Chambers at City Hall erupted in applause and cheers. (Read more »)


Thunder By the Bay organizers hope to use city’s Payne Park in 2017

City staff is working on those details and a proposed ordinance for handling special events in downtown Sarasota in the future

City of Sarasota staff is continuing to work with representatives of Suncoast Charities for Children in regard to its application to host Thunder By the Bay in Payne Park in January 2017, staff told the City Commission this week. With the organization’s executive director, Lucy Nicandri, having encountered “some pushback” from First Baptist Church and businesses after she proposed holding Thunder By the Bay on Upper Main between Orange and Links avenues, Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown explained, the nonprofit withdrew its application for use of that part of the city. (Read more »)


City and county staff members still working to resolve fire assessments dispute dating to September 2015

County’s emergency services director says he expects a new ordinance with updated methodology to be in place by the spring of 2017

Sarasota County staff is continuing to work with Assistant City of Sarasota Attorney Michael Connolly and other city staff to resolve a dispute over fire assessments that arose in conjunction with the County Commission’s adoption of its budget and assessments for the current fiscal year. (Read more »)


County finances ‘in pretty good shape,’ with no shortfall foreseen until FY19

Staff is projecting a budget that is just under $250 million for the 2017 fiscal year

With a projected 2017 fiscal year budget of $249,754,989, Sarasota County staff is not anticipating a gap between revenue and expenses, Assistant County Administrator and Chief Financial Officer Steve Botelho told the County Commission during its May 18 budget workshop. (Read more »)


County Code Enforcement officers focusing on education and community engagement to resolve violations

Emphasis is on voluntary compliance because of the intensive process officers have to pursue to seek Special Magistrate hearings, County Commission learns

Sarasota County’s Code Enforcement officers are putting a significant focus on education and engagement with the public in an effort to resolve complaints without having to pursue the time-consuming Special Magistrate process, members of the Planning and Development Services Department told the County Commission this week. (Read more »)


New plans in place for four-lane roads from Villages of Lakewood Ranch South to Fruitville, plus an I-75 connector

Agreement with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch also permits better water/wastewater infrastructure planning, county staff says

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch (SMR) will pay Sarasota County $4,339,638 for its proportional share of road improvements related to its Villages of Lakewood Ranch South project, but the county will reimburse the firm out of revenue derived from mobility fees imposed on construction within the development, based on an agreement that has won unanimous County Commission approval. (Read more »)


Siesta Seen

County has no plans to add restrooms at Beach Access 7; ‘No RV Parking’ signs back up at Beach Road spaces by the beach; sewer pipelines to be rehabilitated in Treasure Boat Way and Island Circle basins; county staff proposes to eliminate the sunset date for the Temporary Use Permit ordinance applying to special events at bars and restaurants; and South Siesta Renourishment Project seen from the air

The prospect of restrooms at Beach Access 7 on Siesta Key arose again recently during a Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) meeting. (Read more »)


Prep work underway for resurfacing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way

Repaving to begin on May 23 and take about a week, with two-way traffic maintained

Prep work for the resurfacing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way between U.S. 301 and Central Avenue began today, May 17, and is expected to be finished by the end of the month, weather permitting, the City of Sarasota has announced. (Read more »)


‘Ban the Box’ procedure adopted for City of Sarasota hiring

Applicant’s criminal history to be considered at the end of the process, city announces

The City of Sarasota no longer will inquire about a person’s criminal history during the initial part of a job application process, the city has announced. (Read more »)


Superintendent search forum set for Riverview High on May 26

Members of the community asked to offer views on strengths and challenges in the school district, as well as qualities they would like to see in Lori White’s successor

During a forum at Riverview High School in Sarasota on Thursday, May 26, members of the public may offer their comments about the qualities they would like to see in the next superintendent of the Sarasota County Schools, the school district has announced. (Read more »)


Alcock enters State Senate District 23 race as a Democrat

He will face Frank Cirillo of Sarasota in the Aug. 30 primary

Frank Alcock, a professor at New College of Florida, announced his candidacy this week for the Florida Senate District 23 seat. Alcock, a Democrat, has been a full-time faculty member at New College since 2003, teaching courses on world politics and environmental studies, a news release says. This will be his first run for elected office, the release adds. (Read more »)


Sheriff’s Office lieutenant completes training to become certified Crisis Intervention Team coordinator

Charles Kenniff is one of only 80 people worldwide to attain the certification

CIT coordinators are trained through CIT International, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote community collaboration in an effort to assist people living with mental illness and/or addiction who are experiencing a crisis, a news release explains. (Read more »)


Volunteers needed for disaster response roles in Sarasota County

Health and Human Services Department ramping up for hurricane season, which begins June 1

The Sarasota County Health and Human Services Department is recruiting a team of volunteers to manage and run Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs) during a time of disaster, the department has announced. (Read more »)


New principal appointed for Venice Elementary School

Erin del Castillo to succeed Theresa Baus

Sarasota County Superintendent of Schools Lori White has appointed Erin del Castillo as the new principal of Venice Elementary School, effective June 14, the Sarasota County School District has announced. (Read more »)


County earns 26th Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

Honor is the highest professional recognition in governmental budgeting, county staff says

Sarasota County recently earned the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), the county has announced. (Read more »)