20170331-31 Mar 2017

Worries raised that county’s bond rating could suffer as a result of a new nationally mandated auditing provision

Commissioners voice frustration with a process that discounts years of trends shown by its own budget models and conservative spending practices

Delving more in-depth into an issue he raised in February, Deputy Sarasota County Administrator and Chief Financial Management Officer Steve Botelho this week stressed what Commissioner Charles Hines characterized as the potential for the county’s “being penalized for having a more conservative [fiscal] model than other communities do.” (Read more »)

International tourism decline continues in Sarasota County, with new federal guidelines on social media passwords one key factor, Visit Sarasota County president tells tourism advisory board

Domestic travelers’ numbers remain strong, Virginia Haley says

After hearing a report on record-breaking tourism figures for last year, members of Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Council voiced a big question last week: What about this year? (Read more »)

City Commission indicates readiness to repeal City Code provision linking impact fee credits to old structures on parcels prime for redevelopment

Staff to undertake further research and then set a public hearing on the issue

City of Sarasota mobility impact fee credits tied to buildings no longer in use — or those that once stood — on vacant property will be ending in the near future, city commissioners have indicated. On March 20, the Sarasota City Commission voted unanimously to direct City Attorney Robert Fournier to schedule a public hearing to repeal a section of the City Code that provides for those credits. (Read more »)

$8.6 million freed up to help acquire Legacy Trail’s North Extension into downtown Sarasota

County Commission’s capital project decisions this week also make borrowing possible for the South County court facilities

Through a series of votes on March 29, the Sarasota County Commission freed up about $8.6 million that could be used for the North Extension of The Legacy Trail in the next fiscal year. It also made it possible for the South County courts project to be added to its Capital Improvement Program list. (Read more »)

City Utilities Department planning replacement of aging water mains covering about 3.5 miles, starting in May

Announcement from city manager follows a March 23 water main break affecting part of North Tamiami Trail

The City of Sarasota Utilities Department “is gearing up for a significant improvement project that will temporarily impact some streets in the Arlington Park and Alta Vista neighborhoods,” City Manager Tom Barwin reported in his March 24 newsletter. (Read more »)

Siesta Key couple argues that in seeking to reverse the vacation of part of North Beach Road, Michael Cosentino has employed an incorrect interpretation of state law

April 5 hearing set on Dennis and Wendy Maddens’ motion for partial summary judgment; couple also asking court to invalidate citizen signatures on petitions for Cosentino’s proposed County Charter amendments

An April 5 hearing has been set in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Sarasota on Siesta Key property owners’ motion for partial summary judgment in the case involving the Sarasota County Commission’s May 11, 2016 vacation of a 357-foot-long segment of North Beach Road. (Read more »)

Condominiums still comprise largest percentage of entities collecting the county’s Tourist Development Tax, 2016 fiscal year figures show

Airbnb contract on County Commission agenda for April 3 decision

In the 2016 fiscal year, condominium units continued to comprise the largest percentage of entities collecting Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Tax (TDT), Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates has told members of the county’s Tourist Development Council (TDC). (Read more »)

Wife of former Allman Brothers guitarist charged with 18 counts of aggravated assault with a firearm for allegedly aiming rifle at youth rowers

Donna Betts released from jail on $180,000 bond after her first court appearance following March 27 incident

Donna Betts, the 62-year-old wife of Forrest R. “Dickey” Betts of Allman Brothers fame, was arrested this week and charged with 18 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill after allegedly aiming a rifle at members of the Sarasota Crew rowing club in Osprey. (Read more »)

Sheriff’s Office annual report for 2016 details accomplishments of departments

Updated strategic plan focuses on ‘effective management and law enforcement practices’ throughout the county

With 425 sworn law enforcement officers, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office made 8,607 arrests and 425 marine safety checks, issued 33,687 traffic citations, cleared 6,398 of the 7,637 warrants it received in 2016, the office has pointed out in its latest annual report. (Read more »)

Sarasota County seat expanded, but City of Sarasota boundaries remain the same

New Sheriff’s Office administrative facilities on Cattleridge Road and Emergency Operations Center added

It took less than 4 minutes during a recent Sarasota County Commission meeting for the board to expand the county seat to encompass two addresses outside the city of Sarasota, where most county offices are located. (Read more »)

A faithful flip phone user investigates a new alternative

Friends’ nagging prompts a trip to the phone store

I tried to do the right thing. Honestly, I had all good intentions of finally pleasing my children and various friends who had constantly berated and mocked me for using (and liking) my ancient flip phone — only eight years old but prehistoric in Steve Jobs terms. (Read more »)

Free downtown city shuttle service begins on March 29

Service will be available seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

On Wednesday, March 29, the long-planned, free shuttle service in downtown Sarasota officially will be launched, city staff has announced. Operated by Gotcha (Green Operated Transit Carrying Humanity Around) Ride, the fleet of seven low-speed electric vehicles will convey people to downtown locations and stops in the Rosemary District. (Read more »)

ACLU chapter to present program on reproductive rights

April 4 discussion to feature president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida, as well as the West Florida regional director of the ACLU of Florida

On April 4, the Sarasota Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida will continue its monthly discussion series, Ask the ACLU, with the topic, How to Defend a Woman’s Reproductive Rights. (Read more »)

April 4 workshops designed to help people learn how to drive the diverging diamond interchange at I-75

Two sessions at Everglades University will present the same information and provide opportunities to talk with FDOT staff

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is inviting members of the public to attend an April 4 workshop that will provide details on the upcoming traffic pattern change from a conventional interchange to a diverging diamond interchange at Interstate 75 and University Parkway in Sarasota and Manatee counties. (Read more »)

Unpaid 2016 property taxes become delinquent on Saturday, April 1, Tax Collector’s Office reminds public

3% penalty added to delinquent real estate tax bills after March 31

Anyone who has not paid his or her 2016 property taxes in Sarasota County is being reminded not to let the Friday, March 31, deadline pass, or the person will face an additional charge, Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates has announced. (Read more »)

April 10 the last day to register to vote in May 9 North Port and Sarasota elections

Sample ballots available on the elections office website

The voter registration deadline for the May 9 municipal elections is Monday, April 10, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner is reminding citizens in the Cities of North Port and Sarasota. Additionally, sample ballots for those elections have been made available online. (Read more »)

Amnesty Week to return to county libraries on April 10

No limit imposed on overdue items that can be returned without penalty, but materials must be taken to a circulation desk, county staff says

Anyone facing an outstanding overdue fine that has been keeping him or her away from the library may take advantage of the upcoming Amnesty Week at any Sarasota County Library by returning those overdue items without penalty, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Public encouraged to vote for Sarasota County in nationwide parks competition

$20,000 national grant at stake in competition that begins April 1

The Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department is taking part in the Meet Me at the Park initiative, a national competition that could earn Sarasota County a $20,000 grant to improve local parks, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Tropical Fruit Society to host annual sale on April 8

Nonprofit’s event to be held at Unitarian Universalist Church in Sarasota

The Tropical Fruit Society of Sarasota will present its annual Fruit Tree and Herb Sale on Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the campus of Unitarian Universalist Church, the organization has announced. The church is located at 3975 Fruitville Road in Sarasota. (Read more »)

Kingsley the new assistant superintendent and chief academic officer of Sarasota County Schools

She had served as the district’s executive director of elementary education since February 2015

Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Todd Bowden named Laura Kingsley the assistant superintendent/chief academic officer for the Sarasota County Schools, effective March 23. (Read more »)