The Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) showed up for work this week, tackling a series of big decisions that will set the course for the county in the weeks, months and years to come.
The BCC held three meetings this week, two regular board meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday and a special joint meeting with the city of Sarasota on Tuesday afternoon.
The week’s big moves kicked off on Tuesday with approval for $15.3 million in funding for Phase II of the construction of a new Emergency Operations Center/911 Center. Later Tuesday morning, the BCC approved a $4.9 million Health and Human Services budget for fiscal year 2014. The 2014 budget represents a nearly $500,000 jump in spending for the combined services program, which funds agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club, All Faiths Food Bank, the Salvation Army and the Sarasota YMCA.
After a lunchtime recess, the BCC reconvened Tuesday afternoon alongside their city of Sarasota counterparts to debate a series of controversial subjects, including plans to mine Big Pass for Lido Beach sand, a proposal to build a homeless shelter in downtown Sarasota, plans to modify Sarasota 2050 and growing concerns over the city’s crime rate.
On Wednesday the BCC opened its workday by approving the use of $5 million in capital projects funds to finance improvements at the Nathan Benderson Park Rowing Facility in preparation for the 2017 World Rowing Championships to be held there.
And finally, on Wednesday afternoon the BCC capped its tumultuous week with a move that surprised many people familiar with county politics, voting 4-1 to fire County Administrator Randall Reid after only two years on the job.
"I wish it hadn't gotten to this point," County Commissioner Christine Robinson said.
"I don't think you grasped the job from a business perspective,” added Commissioner Joe Barbetta, who recently penned a negative performance review of Reid.
Commissioners justified Reid’s firing with claims that he was “reactive” rather than “proactive,” and that there was scant evidence to suggest a turnaround of his unsatisfactory job performance.
The BCC’s decision to sack Reid drew heated comments from residents during the public discussion section of Wednesday’s meeting.
“This is a disgrace,” said Michael Figgins, a Sarasota resident who spoke prior to and after the vote to fire Reid.
Commissioners later voted to appoint Deputy County Administrator Tom Harmer to the top county position in the interim while Reid’s replacement is selected.
The Sarasota Board of County Commissioners will hold a special workshop at 9 a.m., Oct. 29, at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota.
Residents can call 861-5000 for more information.
Contact Nolan Peterson at [email protected]