20170922-22 Sep 2017

No Public Service Tax will be imposed on residents, County Commission agrees

Money that tax would have generated to be made up from the Economic Uncertainty Fund until board members can approve specific budget cuts

It took almost an hour and 15 minutes to achieve what Sarasota County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh told the County Commission it had to do during its first public hearing on the 2018 fiscal year budget. On a 4-1 vote, the board approved a tentative budget that will incorporate an extra $5.4 million from the county’s Economic Uncertainty Fund because the majority of commissioners made it clear they did not want to implement a 5% Public Service Tax on residents’ use of electricity, water, L.P. gas and natural gas. (Read more »)

New fire assessments to be imposed, County Commission decides on unanimous vote

Commercial property owners have objected to the 39% increase they will see on their tax bills

Owners of commercial property have complained that their Sarasota County fire assessments will be rising 39%, thanks to a new methodology for those fees that the Sarasota County Commission approved in May. Nonetheless, the board members voted unanimously during their Sept. 18 budget hearing to adopt the assessments based on that methodology. (Read more »)

Freeland Eddie and Brody vote against City of Sarasota budget for the 2018 fiscal year

Both cite concerns about the cost of new personnel and the need to focus on infrastructure concerns

With Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie and Commissioner Hagen Brody in the minority, the Sarasota City Commission voted 3-2 on Sept. 18 to approve its budget for the 2018 fiscal year. The board members unanimously approved the total citywide millage rate of 3.4473 for the new fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1. (Read more »)

City staff authorized to begin working on zoning changes to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Sarasota

City attorney hopeful first of three public hearings can be scheduled no later than December

On a unanimous vote this week, the Sarasota City Commission authorized staff to begin work on a proposed zoning text amendment that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within the city limits. (Read more »)

North Port Commission splits 3-2 on last agreement to make Atlanta Braves Spring Training complex a reality

Construction expected to get underway in November

Almost two-and-a-half hours after they started their Sept. 19 discussion, the North Port city commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the final agreement that will allow the Atlanta Braves to begin Spring Training in 2019 in the West Villages. The board earlier this year committed to providing an upfront payment of $4.7 million toward the cost of the new $100-million complex. (Read more »)

New equipment to be purchased to implement paid parking program in State Street garage

Initiative will be coordinated with paid parking program in Palm Avenue garage, though timeline has not been determined

The Sarasota City Commission unanimously gave the go-ahead on Sept. 18 for city staff to spend $217,062 on equipment to implement a paid parking program in the State Street garage and to add elements to the system already in place at the Palm Avenue garage. (Read more »)

Round House on Sandy Hook Road wins Sarasota County historical designation

Structure was designed by famous Kansas City architect Mary Rockwell Hook

Standing at 172 Sandy Hood Road North on Siesta Key, the one-story octagonal, wood-frame structure built in 1952 is famous not only because of its design but because of its designer: Mary Rockwell Hook. The second woman to graduate from the prestigious Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris, in 1906, Hook had a successful career in Kansas City before she retired to Sarasota, county historical documents explain. (Read more »)

Irma recovery continues, with storm debris collection hindered by needs across Florida and in Texas

Only 230 FPL customers remained without power in Sarasota County as of early afternoon on Sept. 21

As of the afternoon of Sept. 20, Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) was reporting 230 customers still without power, down from a total of 218,840 immediately after Hurricane Irma swept through the region, Richard Collins, Sarasota County’s emergency services director, reported to County Administrator Tom Harmer shortly before 9 p.m. that day. (Read more »)

Manasota Key damage limited after Irma, but staff continuing to work on potential for a joint beach nourishment project with Charlotte County

Second survey of residents nets greater response rate, but a number object to helping pay for more sand

Even Manasota Key’s beach fared reasonably well during Hurricane Irma’s passage through the area, staff of Sarasota County’s Environmental Protection Division reported last week after comparing post-storm surveys to those undertaken before Irma struck. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

County staff talking with FDOT about swapping the state River Road for Siesta roads; Siesta and Casey key beaches fare well during Irma; and an historic cottage gets a tax exemption for rehab work

Sarasota County staff has been in discussions with staff of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) about potentially assuming ownership of roads on Siesta Key in exchange for the state taking River Road, County Administrator Tom Harmer told the County Commission on Sept. 13. (Read more »)

20-year-old female suspect arrested in connection with Siesta Key vehicle burglaries

Sarah Young charged also with credit card fraud

A 20-year-old Sarasota woman has been charged in connection with vehicle burglaries on Siesta Key and alleged credit card fraud, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has reported. (Read more »)

Nothing beats a personal preview of coming attractions

Outing to Benderson Park finds people hard at work in advance of World Rowing Championships

Sometimes, I like to go to places that will be hosting large events before they take place. It is very exciting and interesting to watch the people involved work in their respective roles in anticipation of what is to come. (Read more »)

U.S. 41 roundabouts at 10th and 14th streets in Sarasota to be focus of FDOT meeting on Oct. 3

Session to be held at Bayfront Community Center

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) representatives of District One will host a public information meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. on the planned roundabouts at 10th and 14th streets on U.S. 41 in Sarasota, the department has announced. (Read more »)

City of Sarasota storm debris collection underway as of Sept. 18, but no specific dates set for neighborhoods

Tips provided to ensure material is picked up in a timely fashion

As part of the ongoing Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, contractors for the City of Sarasota began debris collection and removal on Monday, Sept. 18, the city announced. Unlike the protocol with regular yard waste pick-up, no specific scheduled days for storm debris collection have been set, a news release stresses. Residents have been encouraged to place the material curbside as soon as possible. (Read more »)

County planning more public workshops on Unified Development Code project

All to be held at Nokomis Community Park

Sarasota County staff has announced three more public meetings on the initiative to create a Unified Development Code (UDC) that will update and bring together the county’s land development and zoning regulations, which control the development of all properties in the unincorporated area of Sarasota County. (Read more »)

Sarasota in Defense of Animals sets up GoFundMe account to help its recovery from Hurricane Irma

Nonprofit is a no-kill sanctuary that was established in 1989

The Sarasota in Defense of Animals sanctuary “was hit hard by Hurricane Irma,” the nonprofit announced this week. “Trees down, flooding, barns and fences destroyed!” a news release says. As a result Sarasota in Defense of Animals (SDA) has started a GoFundMe account to help it restore its facilities to the pre-storm level. (Read more »)

Public transportation available to 2017 World Rowing Championships at Benderson Park

Weeklong and daily passes offered by SCAT

The 2017 World Rowing Championships is teaming up with Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) and Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) to transport spectators to the international competitions “in a cost effective and eco-friendly way,” the event organizers have announced. (Read more »)