The St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District is seeking the Sarasota City Commission’s approval next week for another 10-year extension vote for its improvement district.
At its monthly meeting Tuesday, May 14, St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District Chairman Marty Rappaport said he and assistant city attorney Michael Connelly will go before the Sarasota City Commission May 20 to ask commissioners for permission to mail out ballots for a second referendum attempt.
In April, Rappaport announced the extension of the St. Armands Business Improvement District failed to receive adequate landowner approval.
Only 34 of the 65 landowners returned their ballots by the April 2 deadline (one of which omitted a required witness’ signature). Landowners who return ballots must collectively own more than 50% of the assessed property value within the district for the extension to be approved.
The problem, Rappaport said, was not disapproval of the BID. Instead, nearly half of the landowners didn’t get to vote: 28 of the ballots came back to the Sarasota City Auditor and Clerk’s Office stamped “not deliverable as addressed, unable to forward.”
Those ballots weren’t certified, and Rappaport said the same mistake won’t be made twice.
If the commission approves the BID’s request, new ballots will be mailed out Aug. 5 and be due back later that month. The BID has requested the Sarasota City Auditor and Clerk’s Office certify the ballots this time.
BID board member Gavin Meshad said Tuesday board members were told the extension would be approved.
“We’ve got enough petitions back from landowners who have announced they support a new referendum ballot,” Meshad said.
Stakeholders — landowners, merchants and residents — have commended the BID, a special taxing district that St. Armands Circle property owners voted to create in 2003, to help pay for Circle improvements. Among their achievements: new street lighting, repaired sidewalks, sitting areas with landscaping and up lighting and Bose speakers to provide music. The BID has plans to alleviate parking woes if an extension is approved.
Diana Corrigan, director of the St. Armands Circle Association, told Rappaport she and her merchants are “100% behind the BID.” The St. Armands Residents Association also supports a renewal of the BID extension.
At the May 20 commission meeting, Rappaport is also expected to ask commissioners to support a Circle parking feasibility study that would be paid for with BID funds, not to exceed $50,000. The study, which the city would put out to bid, would take a comprehensive look at the Circle’s existing parking situation and ways to address parking that include a Circle parking garage and a valet service.