Negotiations authorized for lease of 17th Street building to house City of Sarasota’s Central Records Division

Email exchanges among city staff debate who is responsible for putting item on March 5 agenda and negotiating the terms

A photo in the March 5 City Commission agenda packet shows part of the interior of the building at 3850 17th St. in Sarasota. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The Office of the City of Sarasota Auditor and Clerk generated some email exchanges ahead of the March 5 City Commission meeting, when Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini’s proposal for leasing a new city records facility was on the agenda. Nonetheless, the proposal won unanimous City Commission support, with no comment. Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch was absent because of illness, so the vote was 4-0.

On Oct. 2, 2017, the commissioners authorized city staff to proceed with working out a deal for the relocation of the city’s Central Records Division. That action followed previous discussion, plus more recent emails from Nadalini to the board members, which showed continuing problems with the records center. The facility is located within the city’s Utilities Department complex on 12th Street.

A staff memo provided to the commissioners in advance of the March 5 meeting explained, “The current Central Records facility has experienced numerous building issues over time and, despite attempts to remedy the issues, the building remains an unsuitable environment for hosting staff and storing the City’s official records …” The memo added, “[W]ater leaks continue to plague the facility. To-date, the records center has undergone roof repairs, ceiling tile replacement, mold remediation, window sealing, and installation of new carpet.”

Officially, the commission vote this week — as part of approval of its Consent Agenda No. 1 of routine business items — gave “[a]uthorization to proceed with developing a lease agreement with Osprey Trail LLC” in regard to property located at 3580 17th St. in Sarasota.

An aerial map shows the location of the structure. Image from Google Maps

The Feb. 27 draft proposal calls for base rent of $18 per square foot with an initial five-year term. “Tenant is responsible for interior janitorial [service], phone, internet, and interior liability and property insurance, through a self-insured policy,” the draft notes. “Landlord is responsible for repairs and maintenance to roof and structure along with exterior maintenance, including but not limited to parking area, lights and landscaping,” it adds.

Questions about responsibilities

In late February, email exchanges showed disagreement among city staff over both negotiating the lease for the records storage and responsibility for putting the item on the March 5 agenda.

The first email in the Feb. 28 chain The Sarasota News Leader reviewed was from Rob Schanley, the city’s facilities/asset manager, who wrote Nick Dazio, the city’s records manager, the following: “My function in this was to be the liaison between the [Office of the City Auditor and Clerk] and Ian Black’s Office to help find suitable rental space.” (Black heads up a commercial real estate firm in Sarasota.)

Schanley continued, “My role is not to negotiate the lease. That is something the [Office of the City Auditor and Clerk] will need to do. The agenda request is something your office should prepare and submit.”

A page in the March 5 City Commission agenda packet provides these details about staff pursing a new home for the Central Records Division. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

Dazio then notified Nadalini of the response, copying her on Schanley’s email.

Nadalini sent the following reply to Dazio, copying David Boswell, general manager of the city’s Purchasing Department: “All leases are negotiated through the Purchasing Department and agenda requests should in fact go through the Purchasing Department, not The Office of the City Auditor and Clerk.”

She added that she also had copied City Manager Tom Barwin and City Attorney Robert Fournier, “in an effort to seek proper guidance and assistance as my office should not be placed in any position to negotiate [a] lease agreement for the City of Sarasota, despite what the … email thread suggests from Rob Schanley.”

Nadalini continued, “The City Commission requested that we work with the City Manager’s staff to gain proper assistance in finding a suitable building to relocate our Central Records Operations, which we have done … over the past 12 months. Therefore, I will [wait] to hear back from David or the City Manager,” she added, as she anticipated that either would “welcome the opportunity to provide assistance” to see the matter through to completion, as directed by the City Commission.

City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini. File photo

Boswell responded to her, pointing out that his office does not prepare agenda requests for department contracts. “We do the solicitation, monitor the process and in conjunction with the Department oversee the negotiation. The Department must take the request to the Commission and explain what they are trying to [accomplish] with the contract or request. We facilitate the process and make sure that it is done in accordance with State Statutes and City Code. We have no idea what to put in the narrative of an agenda request,” he added. However, he continued, in accord with the City Commission direction she had referenced, his staff had provided her staff assistance “in finding a suitable building.”

Furthermore, his office had not prepared an agenda request “at least [in] the 6 years I have been here,” Boswell pointed out.

Next, Assistant City Manager John Lege weighed in: “The minutes of the October 2, 2017 [City Commission meeting state that a] motion was made by Commissioner [Hagen] Brody, seconded by Commissioner [Willie] Shaw, and [carried] by a 5-0 vote to Authorize the City Auditor and Clerk to negotiate terms and conditions of a lease agreement [his emphasis] for the relocation of the City’s Official Records Facility which is to be brought back to the Commission for approval.”

Neither the Purchasing Department nor Schanley should have anything to do with the negotiation of the lease, Lege added. “Mr. Schanley facilitated a relationship between your office and Ian [Black’s] office but did not negotiate the terms of the lease. It is not his responsibility to prepare the agenda item or present it to the City Commission for [its] consideration. Nick Dazio, as a representative of your office, has negotiated the lease and is the person who should present it to the City Commission.”

Nadalini responded to Lege: “[I]t is my opinion that the Purchasing Department is responsible for working with departments to negotiate lease agreement terms and conditions with property owners.

“However, I have prepared an agenda request for placement on the March 5th Regular City Commission Meeting agenda, requesting approval to work with the City Attorney’s Office to develop a proposed lease agreement to be brought back to the City Commission for approval and to direct the City Administration to identify a funding source for the property located at 3580 17th St, Sarasota, FL 34237, for utilization by The Central Records Division of The Office of the City Auditor and Clerk.”

She signed the email in her normal manner, which the News Leader recognized from reading her emails over the past several years: “Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance or if you have any questions.

“Thank you.”