Up to $28 million in bonds to be issued to pay for new county Emergency Services Administration Building and new Mosquito Management Facility

County Commission votes unanimously to approve funding mechanism

With no comments from any of the Sarasota County commissioners or members of the public, the board this week voted unanimously to issue $28 million in bonds to finance both the county’s new Emergency Services Administration Building and its new Mosquito Management Facility.

On the same May 24 vote, they also adopted a resolution that modified the scope of work for the Emergency Services facility, which is being planned on Porter Way, just west of Interstate 75, next to the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Instead comprising just a single-story, the structure also will have a partial second floor containing 12,000 square feet. That will be a shell that can be built out as needed in the future, a county staff memo says.

The Mosquito Management building will be constructed next to the Sheriff Tom Knight Support Services Facility at the intersection of Laurel Road East and Honore Avenue, near Venice, a county map shows. That new structure will be nestled between Honore Avenue and Interstate 75, with Laurel Road East as its southern border, the map notes.

The expected cost of the Emergency Services structure is $14,802,000, the county staff memo says, while the Mosquito Management Facility is anticipated to have a price tag of $11,306,042.

Construction of the Emergency Services building “will begin with the demolition of the old History Center,” the memo adds, with completion expected in the winter of 2024. The Mosquito Management Facility also is anticipated to be finished in the winter of 2024, the memo points out.

That county staff memo, provided to the commissioners in their packets for the May 24 regular meeting, explains, “Emergency Services administrative functions are located at various facilities throughout the County, but primarily at the Administration Center located at 1660 Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota, which is a non-hardened structure located within a potential storm surge area.”

The memo further points out that the County Administration Center “does not provide space for all of the [Emergency Services] administrative functions,” including those of the Fire Marshal’s Office.

The new two-story, storm-hardened building next to the EOC will have approximately 28,500 square feet, the memo notes.

In regard to Mosquito Management: The memo explains that that county division occupies nine buildings standing at 4310 Ashton Road in Sarasota, a site shared with the County Fleet Division and the administrative staff of Sarasota County Area Transit. Along with a laboratory; an insectory, which is an insect-rearing facility; a chicken facility (the county uses “sentinel chickens” to monitor the potential risk of mosquito-borne diseases); an aquaculture area; chemical storage space; a workshop; a restroom/shower area; and “a multi-unit garage” for Mosquito Management, the memo adds, that division’s administrative offices are at that location.

“While the facilities are functioning,” the memo points out, the Mosquito Management operations are not efficient. Further, it says, maintenance of the 40-year-old buildings has been deferred, and improvements would be needed to bring the structures up to current Building Code standards.

Moving the Mosquito Management operations to the site next to the Sheriff Tom Knight Support Services Facility also will reduce travel time and expense for the division staff, the memo adds, as the staff serves all areas of the county. Further, that location will enable the staff to more efficiently serve “the growing population” of South County and communities east of I-75, the memo notes.

The plans for the Mosquito Management Facility call for a one-story, 19,822-square-foot, storm-hardened building, plus a covered parking area for vehicles that are used to spray the county to protect the public from mosquitoes, which can transmit a number of diseases. Adequate space also will be available on the site for the circulation of “large delivery vehicles,” the memo says.

As for the bonds: The memo explains that they “are expected to be issued with an amortization period of 25 to 30 years. The security for the bonds will be the county’s half-cent sales tax proceeds, the memo continues, but the bonds will be repaid out of “general government revenues.”

Staff expects the marketing of the bonds to occur in June, with a July closing, the memo points out.