New Siesta Village maintenance contractor expected to start work Sept. 10

The new maintenance contractor for Siesta Village is expected to begin work Sept. 10, county staff members say. Photo by Norman Schimmel

Sarasota County staff is working on a purchase order that should allow the new Siesta Village maintenance contractor to start work on Sept. 10, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.

Mark Smith, chairman of the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp., told the News Leader Aug. 30 that he had met earlier that afternoon with two of the county employees who have been overseeing the maintenance, the person from the county’s Procurement Department who handled the bid and two representatives from the contractor, Championship Landscape Maintenance Professionals of Fort Myers.

“It was a good meeting,” Smith said.

Tom Maroney, general manager of business operations in the county’s Public Works Department, Smith and Championship staff will have their final walk-through of Siesta Village on Sept. 7, Smith added, to provide the opportunity for any last-minute questions.

“I’m excited,” Smith said. “They seem like good folks. … They seem to know what they’re doing.”

Maroney told the News Leader, “They’ll hit the ground running, hopefully.”

Maroney has been supervising the county employees who have handled the Village upkeep since the Maintenance Corp.’s contract with JWM Management of Sarasota ended on Aug. 15, 2011.

The County Commission on Aug. 21 unanimously voted to award the new contract to Championship, which also maintains the Longboat Key Club.

Championship’s bid was $97,417.70.

The company’s work at the Longboat resort, Maroney said, “seems to reflect what we’re looking for” in Siesta Village.

Smith said the Championship representatives did have a few questions on Aug. 30 about how to handle unusual occurrences that nonetheless have to be anticipated in the Village. For example, Smith said, they asked what to do if someone runs over one of the public benches along the sidewalks.

Such an incident occurred a couple of years ago in front of the Beach Club on Ocean Boulevard.

The procedures are all in the new county ordinance governing the upkeep, Smith told them. The County Commission approved that revised ordinance in February.

Smith and his board will need county approval of any expenditures above and beyond the normal upkeep, he told the News Leader.

Smith said he also took the opportunity during the meeting to make another request of county staff for documentation showing the total amount of money the county had spent on the upkeep since the JWM contract expired.

“They said they would get that,” he added.

Based on the discussion during the meeting, Smith said, he estimated the annual expense to be between $140,000 and $150,000. However, the property owners in the special district assessed by the county for the upkeep paid about $217,000 this year, Smith said.

Although county tax notices already have gone out for the next year, he said, he was hopeful that if the documentation showed his estimate was correct, the assessment would be reduced for the following year.

“It’s all part of keeping track of where our money’s going,” Smith added.

An Aug. 21 memo to the County Commission from James K. Harriott Jr., the county’s director of public works, pointed out that staff’s estimate of the “probable annual maintenance cost was [$200,000]. This estimate is based on the initial year’s staff estimate ($134,000) as well as the real expenditures from [Fiscal Year 2011, which were $206,729] and FY12 year-to-date ($136,000).”

The memo added, “The annual budgeted operating costs and assessments will be reduced beginning in FY14. Any existing fund balance will be used to reduce assessments for FY14.”