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Sarasota Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 1 month ago

Commissioners outline priority projects

Among high-priority projects are updates to SCAT, a 200-bed correctional facility and a medical examiner's office.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Before turning their calendars to 2021, Sarasota County commissioners in December highlighted several high-priority projects.

Some projects are continuations from 2020 while others are big-picture ideas that commissioners hope to hone throughout 2021. Among the projects:

Mental health taxing district: Commissioner Mike Moran first presented the idea of special taxing to provide services and mental health facilities in 2019. The district would have the power to levy taxes to pay for all the services. Commissioners pulled the referendum from the November 2020 ballot because they didn’t want to place more financial burden on residents dealing with effects of COVID-19. However, Commissioner Alan Maio again requested a timeline for the project to begin. County staff expects to present a plan in March.

Review 2020 Census and effects of single-member districts: Commissioners in 2019 redrew County Commission lines ahead of the 2020 census data. The 2020 elections marked the first time residents voted in single-member districts after a special referendum passed in 2018, which meant some residents were moved out of a district in which they could vote. Commissioner Nancy Detert wants staff to investigate the effectiveness of the single-member districts.

Improve wastewater standards: Staff will continue updating the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility into an advanced wastewater treatment facility. The project will cost a total of $157 million.

Modernize mobility and transit system: As part of a system overhaul, in October 2020 county leaders made the decision to eliminate many Sarasota County Area Transit fixed routes, particularly in south county. The county will continue to evolve its transit system by adding a mobility-on-demand service that will link county bus lines with ride-share companies.

County Administration location: Leaders hope to continue with plans to move from the county’s downtown headquarters at 1660 Ringling Blvd. Two properties on Cattlemen Road have been highlighted as potential sites.

911 Back-up facility interlocal agreement: Staff wants to complete an agreement with a neighboring county to provide no-notice back-up support for 911 operations in the event of an interruption in service. The agreement would be reciprocal.

200-bed correctional reintegration center: Staff will begin funding the design phase of a 200-bed secured correctional facility for people with addiction or who have a mental illness. The center would be placed near the intersection of East Avenue and Main Street and would help reduce repeat-offender rates. Additionally, the county will complete implementation of three-year pilot program for a 40-bed secured treatment and reentry program.

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