+ Downtown roundabout projects go out to bid
Roundabouts at Ringling Boulevard and Palm Avenue have gone out to bid.
The roundabouts are expected to be built within the next eight to 10 months. One lane of traffic is expected to stay open during the construction of both roundabouts to allow for some traffic flow.
The projects will turn Ringling Boulevard into a two-lane road from Orange Avenue to Gulfstream Boulevard. It’s currently four lanes in that section.
The city wants to construct both roundabouts at the same time.
+ No charges indicated in purchasing scandal
A four-month sheriff’s office investigation into county employees’ use of purchasing credit cards has determined that while the use of the cards was improper, no employee intended to break the law, so no one is facing criminal charges.
“We looked for instances of personal gain and corrupt intent,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “Based on all the facts, the state attorney’s office found insufficient evidence (to prosecute).”
County policy holds that for any services costing more than $3,000, verbal quotes and/or written bids are required.
The investigation found that employees routinely charged their purchasing cards to the $3,000 limit to avoid going through the lengthy quote-and-bidding process.
For example, an employee might want to contract for a service that costs $21,000. He would make seven $3,000 charges to pay that amount.
Instead of placing the bulk of the blame on the employees, investigators pointed the finger at supervisors.
“Some (employees) broke the rules because that was how it was always done or just because they were able to,” said Knight. “It was a failure of management.”
The sheriff scolded the county management for putting its employees in a position where they were at risk of being prosecuted for crimes.
+ County to offer grant program workshops
Sarasota County will hold orientation workshops in August and September to show residents how to apply for grants under the Neighborhood Grant Program. Now in its eighth year, the program provides matching grants to neighborhoods to help fund needed improvements.
The workshops are two hours long; applicants are required to attend to be eligible for a grant. The proposed schedule is on the county website, www.scgov.net, keyword search “neighborhood grants.” Grant applications are due by Nov. 7.