+ Orchestra moves forward with facility improvements
The City Commission examined the details of a lease agreement with the Sarasota Orchestra and the Florida Building Code at a special meeting Wednesday. It ultimately made no significant decisions regarding facility upgrades at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center.
The orchestra was seeking to expedite the process so about $460,000 in improvements could be made before the start of the new season Sept. 3. Sarasota Orchestra President and CEO Joseph McKenna said a confluence of three events — the hiring of a new director, the accumulation of five years of improvements and a window of only one month for construction in the orchestra’s offseason — called for special consideration.
The city didn’t allow for any of the orchestra’s requests, deferring, instead, to state statute to provide guidelines for renovation. McKenna said the construction should go forward without a hitch and that they were still aiming for completion before the season begins.
“I don’t anticipate any hurdles,” McKenna said. “We’re well planned and well organized and ready to go.”
+ School board adopts tentative budget and millage rate
At a public hearing Tuesday evening that saw no comment from a member of the public, the Sarasota County School Board voted unanimously to adopt its tentative budget and proposed millage rate for fiscal year 2013-14.
The millage rate will rise slightly over last year, from 7.816 to 7.97. The increase is due to a roughly 7% increase in the required local effort millage rate, which the state Legislature sets.
School board member Shirley Brown emphasized this is a tentative budget, with teacher salaries still to be negotiated.
Money was set aside for teacher pay raises in the state’s 2013-14 budget, which is a contributing factor to the rising millage rate. Collective bargaining will take place before the budget is finalized at a Sept. 10 budget meeting.
The school board approved the advertisement of the preliminary millage rate and tentative budget at a July 23 meeting.
+ Water quality project requires tree removal
Spectrum Underground, a Sarasota County contractor, recently discovered two laurel oak trees, one live oak tree and a cabbage palm south of Morrill Street that must be removed as part of the Hudson Bayou water quality improvements, according to Project Manager Paul Semenec.
The trees, which sit on the east end of a county parking lot, were not originally slated for removal.
The contractor has applied for a tree-removal permit from the city of Sarasota to continue the $1.4 million project. The project is intended to aid filtration of polluted runoff that flows into Hudson Bayou. The contractor will be required to replace the trees following completion.
The trees are slated to be removed some time in the next two weeks, Semenec said.
In the July 25 story “Street project dampens business,” the name of the owner of the Artisan Cheese Co. was incorrectly listed. Her name is Louise Kennedy Converse.