20160401-1 Apr 2016

Testing shows a new Venice Library could be built on the site of the old one, but community meetings will determine the location, county staff says

None of the studies undertaken of the Hamilton Building indicate problems to prevent its use as the temporary library location, county staff explains

Research by consultants and county staff has shown that a new Venice Public Library could be built on the site of the facility the Sarasota County Commission ordered closed in January because of the concerns about the potential ill effects of mold on patrons, volunteers and staff, the county engineer told the Venice City Council and the commission during a joint meeting on March 31 in Venice. (Read more »)

County Commission debates use of a fund set aside more than two years ago with more than $8.1 million

Money saved through a policy change has been set aside as a contingency fund for the 2017 World Rowing Championships and homeless initiatives, but debate ensues over using it to build a new ‘rainy day’ fund

In May 2013, the Sarasota County Commission split 3-2 on a change to its reserve policy, requiring that the county keep enough money to cover 75 days of operations in an emergency situation instead of 90. (Read more »)

City Commission may not be final arbiter in appeal over Woman Exchange’s building permit

Public hearing on the evening of April 4 will focus on Laurel Park Neighborhood Association’s objections to the expansion plans of the nonprofit consignment shop on Orange Avenue

During the evening of April 4, the Sarasota City Commission will hear an appeal by the Laurel Park Neighborhood Association regarding expansion plans of the Woman’s Exchange. But that may not be the end of this saga that already has gone on for close to two years. (Read more »)

Residential right of way mowing change to undergo more thorough County Commission review

Board seeks greater details regarding the proposed policy modification, including the potential for greater Code Enforcement demand and the need to make sure the public would be fully aware of its responsibility

With a desire for more details — including those relating to alerting the public and the potential for greater Code Enforcement costs — the County Commission voted unanimously this week to hold another discussion about a possible change in the county’s residential right of way mowing policy that might save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. (Read more »)

Slow recovery of county property values after the downturn and another looming recession the focus of commission presentation

University of Central Florida economist assesses local, state and global data with a look to the future

Given the number of positive economic statistics for the area and the state, the director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida acknowledged this week to the Sarasota County Commission that he was “a little bit surprised” to learn county property values “are still way down from where they were” before the Great Recession. (Read more »)

County staff recommends no further changes to the Trees Ordinance

County commissioners had sought an in-depth staff review of existing regulations to prevent a ‘piecemeal approach’ in handling future potential problems

While the Sarasota County Commission earlier this year revised its Trees Ordinance to prevent a recurrence of a situation in which a Siesta Key homeowners association became embroiled last year, a follow-up commission request for potential further tweaking of the regulations has ended in staff recommending no further changes. (Read more »)

Precision Machining Program’s success drawing attention from across the country, county commissioners learn

Tours of manufacturing facilities have sparked increased interest in skilled trade jobs, industry representative says

Companies from all across the United States are contacting CareerEdge Funders Collaborative to learn how a public-private partnership to create a Precision Machining Program in Sarasota County has proven so successful, Mireya Eavey, executive director of the organization, has told the Sarasota County Commission. (Read more »)

School district staff still hoping for an August 2017 opening of the North Port campus of Suncoast Technical College

Design work remains underway, the School Board learns, though staff has made it clear the budget has been set

Although “the design is continuing to evolve,” Deputy Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Scott Lempe has told the School Board, district staff has made it clear to the team working on the North Port Suncoast Technical College (STC) project: “‘Figure it out; here’s the budget.’” (Read more »)

School district should be about $1.2 million in the black this budget year

Projection for the 2016-17 budget shows savings of close to $1 million

Both the current and next school year operating budgets are estimated to be in the black, the Sarasota County Schools’ deputy chief financial officer, Al Weidner, has told the School Board. (Read more »)

County expected to save about $5 million by paying off utility bonds early

Last fiscal year, the county saved about $69 million through such actions, commission chair says

During the 2015 fiscal year, Sarasota County marked savings of about $69 million, thanks to paying off debt early and saving on interest payments, County Commission Chair Al Maio has pointed out during remarks to numerous groups and organizations in the community. (Read more »)

Time for a spring fling

So many sights prove a salve to the senses

All year I wait for spring. Last year to my chagrin, it arrived in late fall. The heat hung on and on, confusing plants, wildlife and people. Then winter set in, six weeks late and the waiting game began. (Read more »)

More than $17 million added back to tax rolls by late March as a result of homestead fraud investigations

County property appraiser reports details of efforts by firm it hired last year to undertake the work

As of March 23, “$17,198,838 has been added back to the tax roll as taxable value for future years” as a result of investigations into homestead exemption fraud, Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst reported to County Administrator Tom Harmer. (Read more »)

New principal named for Garden Elementary School in Venice

Archer to relocate from Glenallen Elementary in North Port

Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White has appointed Amy Archer as the next principal of Garden Elementary School in Venice, effective June 8, the district has announced. (Read more »)

Nonprofit that assists orphans and adoptive families to hold its first dinner fundraiser to raise awareness

Event set for April 21 in Lakewood Ranch

Bridge a Life, a local nonprofit organization “that brings Christ-centered hope to orphans by supporting foster and adoptive families through awareness, training, outreach, and partnerships,” will host its first fundraiser on Thursday, April 21, at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch beginning at 6 p.m., it has announced. (Read more »)

Fogle named City of Sarasota’s parks and recreation director

In the position, he will oversee operations, maintenance and programming at 49 City of Sarasota facilities

Jerry Fogle, the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex manager for the City of Sarasota, has been promoted to director of parks and recreation, the city has announced. (Read more »)

City completes forestry improvement project at North Lido Beach

U.S. Forest Service grant supplemented with city funds to pay for work

The City of Sarasota recently completed an urban forestry improvement project at North Lido Beach, utilizing a grant awarded by the U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forest Grant Program, the city has announced. (Read more »)

Latest Civics 101 graduates earn recognition from County Commission

Classes provide insights into how county government operates

The Sarasota County Commission recently recognized seven graduates of the county’s Civics 101 class for spring 2016. The graduates completed more than 40 hours of programming — including presentations from 16 county departments, five constitutional offices and the 12th Judicial Circuit Court — to learn more about how their government operates, a county news release says. (Read more »)

Sheriff Tom Knight honors four Employees of the Year for 2015

Two deputies, the agency’s senior paralegal and a communications training officer win recognition

On March 30, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight honored his 2015 Employees of the Year, the Sheriff’s Office has announced. (Read more »)