June public hearing to be last formal step in assessing south Siesta property owners for renourishment project

Contractor should have all equipment out of Turtle Beach Park next week, county project manager says

Linda Darley. News Leader photo
Linda Darley. News Leader photo

Just a day after the last of the sand was put in place on south Siesta Beach, the Sarasota County Commission took another formal step in the process of assessing property owners who will benefit from the project their share of the $21.5-million expense.

On a unanimous motion during their April 27 regular meeting, the commissioners adopted a resolution declaring the county’s notice of intent to levy and collect the assessments, and it approved the required agreements with the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office and Tax Collector’s Office for their parts in the process. A second required public hearing on the resolution has been scheduled for June 8.

A staff memo provided to the commission in advance of the session last week says a postcard will be mailed to all the property owners within the project boundary, so they will have official notice of that June public hearing.

Information provided to the board in December 2015 said the assessments would total $3,536,237. A Nov. 18, 2015 report to the commission noted that they would pay for about 16.51 percent of the total cost of the renourishment project. That report added that 81.5 percent of the expense would be covered by state funds and county Tourist Development Tax revenue set aside for such undertakings. Another 1.99 percent of the cost is being covered by assessment funds remaining from the 2007 renourishment of the south Siesta Key beach, the report added.

Linda Darley, a staff member in the Capital Projects office of the county’s Public Works Department, told the board on April 27, “As of yesterday afternoon, all of the sand has been placed on the beach and graded.”

She added that some work remained to be done the rest of that week and this week before the project would be declared substantially completed.

“I heard from a lot of people that they needed it,” Chair Al Maio said of the renourishment, adding that the contractor, Weeks Marine of Covington, LA, had to work within a “narrow gap in time” to finish the project before sea turtle nesting season began on May 1. “Staff should be really complimented,” he added. “We got it done.”

The work began on March 9, an April 27 staff memo says.

A graphic shows the properties that will be assessed for the renourishment project. Image courtesy Sarasota County
A graphic shows the properties that will be assessed for the renourishment project. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In an email response to The Sarasota News Leader on May 4, the county’s manager for the renourishment, Paul M. Semenec, wrote, “[T]he project was completed on time and resulted in an absolutely beautiful beach!” He added, “The contractor is in the process of demobilizing all equipment and material from the staging areas at Turtle Beach Park and within the bay on the east side of South Lido Beach. They plan on being out of Turtle Beach Park next week and completely gone by the required date of June 2, 2016 (weather permitting).”

The April 27 memo to the County Commission also notes that the seven-year assessment period will not begin until property owners receive their November 2017 tax bills. The memo further explains that because of potential changes in property ownership within the assessment district prior to the mailing of those first bills, “staff will record a notice of assessment this summer for each property to be assessed.”

Additionally, the memo points out that county staff has held three informational meetings with the affected landowners since March 2014. The last one was on Nov. 19, 2015, with 22 property owners in the proposed assessment district present.