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

A graphic shows the areas that comprise the expanded Sarasota County seat. Image courtesy Sarasota County

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.

The reason? Wendy Tigges, leasing administrator of the county’s Real Estate Services Department, reminded the board that on Feb. 7, it approved a $15,765,280 contract to purchase a three-story building at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd. as new administrative facilities for the Sheriff’s Office. However, under Article VIII, Section 1(k) of the Florida Constitution, Tigges told the board on March 22, the principal offices and permanent records of all county officers must be located at the county seat. Furthermore, she said, Section 30.10 of the Florida Statutes calls for “the place of office of every county Sheriff … to be at the county seat of the county.”

Yet another section of the Florida Statutes provides for the expansion of the geographical area of a county seat, through adoption of a resolution after two public hearings, Tigges pointed out,

The resolution crafted by staff to allow the Sarasota County Commission to take its March 22 action “will not expand the boundaries of the City of Sarasota,” she noted, not will it entail the annexation of the Cattleridge Boulevard property to the city.

Wendy Tigges. News Leader photo

Staff originally proposed a pathway to the Cattleridge Boulevard building that utilized rights of way along Bahia Vista seat and Cattlemen Road, she said, but those would not accommodate the inclusion of the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) into the county seat. Yet, staff believed the latter initiative was also appropriate, she indicated.

(During the first public hearing on the expansion of the county seat — held March 1 — County Administrator Tom Harmer pointed out that the EOC “becomes the seat of county government in the event of a major disaster.”)

Therefore, Tigges said on March 22, the expansion of the county seat will encompass the EOC, which is only about 1.5 miles from the Cattleridge Boulevard building. The EOC’s address is 6050 Porter Way.

Tigges provided the board a legal description of the property that would be added to the county seat, as well as a map. Officially, the legal description expands the county seat to “[a]ll of Sections 25, 26, 27, 28 and 36, Township 36 South, Range 18 East, Sarasota County Florida, lying easterly of the East City Limit Line of the City of Sarasota, Florida.”

When Chair Paul Caragiulo asked whether any board member had a question, none did. Furthermore, no member of the public had signed up to speak on the issue, Caragiulo said.

At that point, Commissioner Alan Maio made the motion for the official expansion of the county seat to include 6010 Cattleridge Blvd. and 6050 Porter Way. Commissioner Charles Hines seconded it, and it passed unanimously.

Along with administrative personnel, the Cattleridge Boulevard building will house the storage area for evidence Sheriff’s Office personnel collect, as well as all the science divisions of the Sheriff’s Office — including Forensics and the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System.

County commissioners agreed that purchasing the structure and modifying it was considerably less expensive than the rough estimate staff had provided for a new Public Safety Campus adjacent to the EOC. The total expense for the Cattleridge Boulevard building — including closing costs — was put at $16,255,083. In November 2015, Isaac Brownman — now the county’s chief engineer — estimated it would take about $106 million to build the Public Safety Campus.