20170602-2 Jun 2017

County Commission asks staff to come back in June with scenarios for balanced future budgets, including a millage rate hike and across-the-board cuts

Implementation of a Public Service Tax also seen as a way to start stabilizing county finances

They have acknowledged the need not only to pay for critically important building projects but also to begin replenishing the “rainy day” fund they have been using to balance the budget in the wake of the Great Recession. Now, with the anticipation that an increased homestead exemption will take an even bigger chunk out of the county’s General Fund revenue, the Sarasota County Commission has asked staff to be prepared to offer several options next month for improving the county’s fiscal outlook over the next five years, starting with 2018. (Read more »)

Woman’s Exchange to purchase Short Stop market next-door, so it finally can expand its furniture consignment business and create a new loading zone

Two City of Sarasota permits already have been approved for the work, which is expected to begin after the end of June

After seeing their expansion plans thwarted last year by Laurel Park residents and the Sarasota City Commission, leaders of the Woman’s Exchange are at work on a new initiative to enlarge the nonprofit consignment business. On May 30, the Exchange announced its intent to purchase the Short Stop Market property located at 521 S. Orange Ave., which is immediately north of its site at 539 S. Orange Ave. (Read more »)

County administrator makes it clear staff plans to keep Siesta trolley running well beyond pilot program

Tom Harmer announces six-month extension through early February but says staff is working on a strategy to make the route permanent

Since the free Siesta Key Breeze trolley was launched on March 20, county commissioners have joined representatives of island organizations in lauding its effectiveness. In recognition of its high ridership levels, Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer has assured the County Commission and the public that the circulator will continue to circulate well beyond the Aug. 11 ending date for the initial pilot program. (Read more »)

County’s financial advisor and Florida economist warn County Commission about continued deficit spending

Board members start focusing on the need to replenish their ‘rainy day fund’

Many times during budget workshops over recent years, Sarasota County commissioners have praised their predecessors for the wisdom of setting aside excess revenue in the boom time of this century, as that money has enabled them to balance post-recession budgets. (Read more »)

City of Sarasota continues to account for highest number of monthly calls for EMS help for the homeless

Sarasota County Fire Department releases April figures

Although the federally mandated Point-in-Time survey of homeless people in January showed a drop of more than 200 in the City of Sarasota, that municipality continues to lead in the number of calls from the homeless for emergency medical services, the latest Sarasota County Fire Department report says. (Read more »)

North Port leads preliminary property value increases with 12.77%, while City of Sarasota sees a 9.74% climb

Sarasota County’s property value continues to lag the boom time level before the recession

Mirroring the situation a year ago, the 2017 preliminary property values for Sarasota County and its municipalities show across-the-board jumps, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office has reported. And, once again, the City of North Port is leading the way, with its estimated overall value up 12.77% compared to its final 2016 number following adjustments in response to property owner challenges. (Read more »)

Majority of County Commission decides to seek a wider applicant pool for two positions on the Public Facilities Financing Advisory Board

Commissioner Charles Hines votes against the motion

It was listed as No. 15.A. and B. on the May 23 Consent Agenda of routine business items for the Sarasota County Commission, but it sparked a discussion that ultimately led to a delay in action. As the staff memo in the agenda material for that meeting explained, the recommendation was for the commission to appoint two applicants to two unexpired terms on the county’s Public Facilities Financing Advisory Board. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

County Commission asks staff to work on parking lot design for South Midnight Pass Road parcel; no news yet on the 162 and 168 Beach Road parcels; Turtle Beach renovations celebrated; the open-air trolley has one group of detractors; Cosentino renews his complaints to County Commission; and an MTV Siesta Key series update comes from the SKA

Excitement began building among leaders on the Key after a Feb. 17 County Commission budget workshop discussion zeroed in on the potential for a new public parking lot at 6647 South Midnight Pass. Lin Kurant, manager of the county’s Real Estate Services Division, had identified the 1.84-parcel as owned by the county’s Utilities Department, with a structure on it used for training purposes by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Although the commissioners were talking about surplus property the county could sell, Kurant recommended the board hang on to the Midnight Pass Road parcel. (Read more »)

Lift Station 87 microtunneling has been completed, City of Sarasota announces

Re-opening of Osprey Avenue to motorists anticipated in July

The second and final microtunnel segment of the Lift Station 87 project was completed last week, “marking a significant milestone,” City of Sarasota staff reported on May 26. The 560-foot-long tunnel under Luke Wood Park connects the Lift Station 87 site with the 36-inch wastewater main previously installed by microtunnel under Hudson Bayou. (Read more »)

Lifeguard hours extended on county beaches

Changes went into effect on May 27

Sarasota County’s beach lifeguard operational hours have been extended on all guarded beaches from 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. as of May 27, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota County School District to operate summer food programs for 20th consecutive year

All Faiths Food Bank and Sarasota County libraries also will assist children and families

For the 20th consecutive summer, the Sarasota County School District will operate summer food programs at various schools and community sites, the district has announced. Starting Monday, June 12, the district’s Food and Nutrition Services Department will provide free breakfasts and lunches to children and teens throughout Sarasota and DeSoto counties. (Read more »)

Van Wezel earns top ranking among performing arts venues for sixth time in its seating category

Honor accorded by Venues Today, the leading trade publication for the business side of entertainment

For the sixth time, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota has been ranked the No. 1 Performing Arts Hall in North America in the 2,000-seat category of “top spots” in Venues Today, the Van Wezel 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.
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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!