The request for proposals for a new maintenance vendor in the Village is not far from completion, Tom Maroney, Sarasota County general manager of business operations and public works, said this week.
“We’re real close,” he said. “It’s a slow process. We’re trying to be as careful as we can.”
Maroney earlier said new staff and leadership in the Procurement Department, in response to the scandal that erupted earlier this year, had been the primary reason the work had been going slowly.
Mark Smith, a member of the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. Board of Directors, said last week that when he and Village property owner Chris Brown met with Maroney and two other county officials about the RFP and the revised ordinance governing Village maintenance, “(the county officials) brought out a new document, fresh off the press from Procurement.”
Smith said he planned to examine those documents carefully before Nov. 2, because he had scheduled a meeting of the SKVMC board that afternoon.
The RFP will need Sarasota County Commission approval, too, before the county can post it. So far, he said, it had not been put on a commission agenda.
Regarding the revised ordinance, Smith said, “It looks pretty good.” He had a couple of comments on it, he said, but they focused on “little things … wordsmithing.”
He did point out to the county staff, he said, that the ordinance did not include the requirement for quarterly meetings to review expenses, an item he deems necessary.
Smith also praised the work county maintenance has done in the Village since the contract with JWM Management expired Aug. 15 but questioned the cost. Village property owners are paying a special assessment to cover the upkeep.
Part of a lawsuit Brown filed against the county Jan. 31 focused on what he felt were unreasonable expenses for work, such as pressure-washing the sidewalks.
No figures are available yet for the county’s expenses, Maroney said. He had promised Smith those would be available in December, he said.
During the Siesta Key Village Association meeting Nov. 1, Smith said the Maintenance Corp. contract with JWM Management was for $118,000 a year. However, James W. Harriott, the county’s executive director of Public Works, had told the County Commission during a July 26 meeting that the contract with a new vendor probably would be about $200,000.
“I don’t know how we went from $118,000 to $200,000,” Smith told the SKVA.
JWM Management informed Smith in advance it would not bid again on the work, as it had been one focus of Brown’s complaints in the lawsuit.
JWM Management’s owner and president is John Meshad of Sarasota, a law partner of Jim Syprett, father of Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar co-owner Troy Syprett. Jim Syprett also is a property owner in the Village.
Brown said this week he also felt the meeting with county staff had gone well. Brown’s lawsuit against the county, filed Jan. 31, led to the county’s reworking the ordinance and making sure it and the RFP are in alignment according to what entity is responsible for what work in the Village upkeep.
“I truly feel as though the county has spent a lot of time and effort to make sure it does it right,” Brown said of the RFP.
Brown added he was pleased Maroney seemed knowledgeable about the work in the village. He said the county officials had assured him that once the maintenance contract was awarded to a new firm, the county would make sure the vendor was handling the work appropriately and keeping the Village clean.
“There’s still going to be accountability, so I like that,” Brown said.
Brown also agreed with Smith’s and Maroney’s assessment that the Village was being maintained well by the county. “I wish they would continue to do it,” he said.