The town of Longboat Key's newest employee discusses her start as the island’s management intern.
Town Manager Dave Bullock heeded a few words of wisdom when he sought someone to help obtain grant money for the island.
“The best advice I got was hire kids because all grants today are basically Internet-based,” Bullock said. “And some of the most capable Internet navigators are young folks who have basically grown up with it their whole life — not to say old guys like me can’t find our way around a computer.”
Enter Katie Taylor, 30, who grew up in Sarasota and recently earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Florida. As the town’s new management intern, she will spend the next eight months on Longboat Key, followed by eight months with the city of North Port, before ending her two-year stint with the Sarasota County.
What are your first impressions of the town’s government?
I don’t feel intimidated at all, which I was kind of worried about because I don’t have any experience in government. You get out of school and say, “Woohoo, I have a master’s degree — but no experience behind it,” and it’s intimidating, especially when I think of government, but they’ve been very welcoming...It’s very transparent, whereas in today’s society, I’m not so sure that every government entity is as transparent.
Are there any grants in particular you’ll target?
I have only been here a week. In that time, some of the items I have been involved in are compiling a statistical survey for municipal processes, an economic model for infrastructure financing, budget workshops, participated in the EOC (emergency operations center) mock hurricane exercise with Sarasota County, observed labor negotiations and reviewed capital budgets...Next week, I’ve been asked to meet with all departments and assess their grant needs.
Are there any projects you’re excited about on Longboat?
I’m very excited to be part of the undergrounding project and beach nourishment. I don’t know much about either one, but I’m very excited. I grew up here my whole life, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen beach renourishment.
Are there any specific public policy issues that you would like to tackle in your career?
I’m definitely interested in schools. I feel like my education was all based on being able to pass the FCAT. It’s still just as bad — it’s just a different test. I think it needs to be more about teaching the kids than teaching the kids to pass the test. That’s the biggest thing for me because I have two nephews and a niece who are currently in public schools.
What’s it like to go to work in paradise every day?
Well, I’m not really a beach person. But even though I’m not particularly fond of the beach — it’s not that I don’t like it, I just don’t like getting sandy, and I hate the salty water. You could take me to the beach any night, and I could walk five miles. It’s very relaxing. I have friends who aren’t from here, and all they think we do is sip margaritas and lay at the beach all day, and I say, “No, we actually do work here.”