Facility will be the home of administrative and forensics lab personnel
About seven-and-a-half months after the Sarasota County Commission authorized the purchase of the building, Sheriff’s Office administrative and other personnel will be moving into a three-story structure at 6010 Cattleridge Boulevard.
That was the news that Bill Spitler, director of research and planning for the Sheriff’s Office, delivered to the commissioners on July 12. Sept. 22 will mark the first day in the 71,592-square-fdoot building, Spitler said.
A staff memo to the commission noted that the three-story structure is located on about 4.25 acres.
No member of the county government staff has enough longevity in his or her job to recall such a move taking place so quickly, Spitler added. “The greatest part about this project is this went very fast, and the worst part about this project is it went very fast,” he told the board after providing some clarification regarding additional expenses for the project.
On Feb. 7, the County Commission authorized paying $15,765,280 for the building. In unanimous formal votes on July 12, the board approved the borrowing of $17,540,000 through a program of the Florida Local Government Finance Commission to cover the purchase. It also authorized spending $411,895 in one-time operating expenses linked to the move; and it agreed to another $931,000 for a detailed list of furnishings and equipment — including information technology items and laboratory equipment for chemists to use in analyzing evidence — as well as signage.
Jeff Lowdermilk, director of the county’s General Services Department, explained that within the next fiscal year, staff plans to refinance the purchase of the Cattleridge structure through use of a 30-year bond, which would be expected to entail an annual debt service payment of $1,090,000.
“Some folks weren’t on this board two years ago — and even years prior to that,” Commissioner Charles Hines pointed out, when Sheriff Tom Knight first explained the critical need for his department to relocate a number of divisions into new facilities because of a range of problems in several of his existing workplaces — from repeated rat damage to flooding. Staff worked with the board on a Public Safety Referendum that would have included a new structure for the Sheriff’s Office adjacent to the county’s Emergency Operations Center on Cattlemen Road, Hines noted.
The expense of that facility was estimated at $101 million, Spitler added.
Even though the numbers the commission was discussing on July 12 represented “a lot of money,” Hines told Spitler, “compared to what was being considered two or three years ago, [the Sheriff’s Office staff and county personnel] have done a phenomenal job getting what you need sooner … [and at] incredible savings for Sarasota County.”
“Commissioner Hines did a great recap of where we are,” Commissioner Alan Maio said after making the motion to approve the funding requests. The building at 6010 Cattleridge is “fairly new,” he pointed out, calling the purchase “a dramatic way to save folks money.”
Knight was unable to be present that morning because of the death of an officer in the department, Spitler explained. On behalf of Knight and all the Sheriff’s Office staff, Spitler thanked the commissioners for the effort and time county staff put into the original concept of the Public Safety Campus, as well as for the board’s approval late last year of a new fleet facility for the Sheriff’s Office on Laurel Road near Interstate 75.
“The big win for us and, I think, the community, is 6010 Cattleridge,” Spitler continued. “We came in probably $35 million cheaper” than the estimated expense of the structure considered on Cattlemen Road. The Cattleridge building, which is rated to be able to withstand a Category 3 hurricane, will allow personnel to work more closely together, Spitler said.
In terms of the equipment for which the department was seeking approval that day, Spitler noted, for example, that the new lab hoods for the chemists would be the first the department had bought in 27 years.
Sheriff’s Office staff and county staff had vetted the list of proposed purchases, he continued, to ensure the items represented necessities.
Hines thanked Spitler for that.
“I find there’s 100% support of the sheriff and his department in the community,” Commissioner added, “so we want to make sure that you have the things you need to keep up that good service and that reputation.” She told Spitler, “I think it’s a plus to have a public vetting,” to make certain county residents understand the expenses.