Commissioners authorize allocation of $4,560,000 for undertaking, but money would have to be borrowed to cover total construction cost
On a unanimous vote this week, the Sarasota County Commission agreed to appropriate $4,560,000 for a project that will include renovations to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard in Sarasota, as well as additions to the complex.
A staff memo in the commission’s Dec. 13 agenda packet explained that the project will entail 60,000 square feet of new construction, “related reorganization of uses within the existing [70,000-square-foot] office facility and associated site work for the new facility.” The memo added, “The allocation of functions between existing and proposed buildings,” as well as the overall campus layout, will be planned to enable the Sheriff’s Office to maximize its operations and provide the greatest degree of cost efficiency.
The formal resolution the commissioners approved this week, which added the project to the county’s Capital Improvement Program, also pointed out, “The Sheriff’s Office has worked to diligently close out leases, consolidate storage and renovate existing spaces due to limited space at the current headquarters.”
The document added that the county’s population is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, which will mean an increase in calls for service from the Sheriff’s Office. “This project is necessary to keep up with the demands of the citizens served by the Sheriff’s Office,” the resolution said.
In March 2021, Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman discussed the agency’s needs with the commissioners, noting that the building located at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd., whose purchase the commissioners authorized in early 2017, already was proving too small. He reminded the commissioners that a 2016 analysis, which the county paid the Schenkel Shultz Architecture firm in Sarasota to undertake, found that — as of that time — the Sheriff’s Office needed 193,981 square feet for all of its operations. Yet, Hoffman told the board members on March 24, 2021, the Cattleridge structure is “just shy of 72,000 square feet.”
He noted that only one vacant office remained in the building that day, and it was the space he had occupied as former Sheriff Tom Knight’s chief deputy and general counsel.
Although the county had purchased the two parcels adjacent to the headquarters, Hoffman continued, he had been informed that the stormwater retention pond in that area did not have the capacity for an expansion of the Sheriff’s Office complex.
Later, however, during another commission discussion, then-Chair Alan Maio explained that the stormwater issue had been resolved.
A map included in the backup agenda material for the Dec. 13 meeting depicted the two parcels that were the focus of that portion of the March 24, 2021 discussion.
When Hoffman and members of his senior staff appeared before the commissioners in June of this year, to present their proposed agency budget for the current fiscal year — which began on Oct. 1 — one of the slides listed Future Initiatives for the Sheriff’s Office. At the top of that list was “Headquarters Expansion.”
The design work for the renovation and expansion project is expected to begin in June 2023, the county staff memo said. County Law Enforcement Impact Fees ($2 million) and Justice Facilities Impact Fees ($2,560,000) will be used to pay for that and part of the construction, the memo noted. Surtax IV revenue will be used, as well, for construction, the memo continued. However, because insufficient funds are available for construction, the memo said, the county would need to borrow money if the plans progress to the building stage.
The Surtax IV program will impose an extra penny of sales tax in the county to pay for capital projects for the School Board, the county and all of the municipalities. It won voter approval during a referendum on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot. The surtax boosts the county sales tax to 7%, as noted on the county website.
The Surtax IV Program will begin on Jan. 1, 2025 and continue for 15 years, through Dec. 31, 2039.
The Dec. 13 staff memo also pointed out that if the commissioners approved the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters project, staff would prepare a Request for Professional Services for both a professional architecture firm and for a construction management firm.
The item was listed on the Dec. 13 agenda as a Presentation Upon Request. None of the board members asked for staff remarks, and no one had signed up to address the topic. No commissioner offered any comments, either, before Commissioner Joe Neunder made the motion to approve the inclusion of the project in the county’s Capital Improvement Program and to appropriate the initial funding for it. Commissioner Michael Moran seconded the motion, which passed on a 5-0 vote.