We’ve been hearing empty promises from City Hall for years — from people who can’t, or won’t, fulfill them.
A year ago, as the recently defeated candidate for a seat on the Sarasota City Commission, I wrote a letter to the Sarasota Observer about the challenges facing our city.
I said these challenges might be relegated by many to being the lament of a losing candidate. I further suggested that time would be the test of whether my concerns were “pathetic” or “prophetic.”
I had pondered whether pension underfunding would be addressed and it hasn’t. I questioned if we would hire more police officers to patrol our city, only to learn recently that police roll calls indicate some days when we have fewer than 13 officers covering our whole city of nearly 57,000 people.
I mentioned keeping a lid on our legal fees, which, since then, have increased taxpayers’ funding on the Mound lift station lawsuit to more than $6.3 million and more than $600,000 on the Lido beach sand lawsuit. This is without even mentioning the potentially catastrophic judgment of $49 million that the city recently lost.
I questioned where we would go on parking meters, which are now to be installed at St Armands Circle. I have no doubt the subject will be raised again for downtown streets as a revenue source.
On a positive note, despite the commission voting AGAINST giving the citizens the chance to decide the date for city elections, a group of civic leaders managed to obtain more than 4,500 signatures to have voters decide the issue this coming November.
As it stands, without a successful appeal of that $49 million judgment, taxpayers will face substantial tax increases for years to come. Even a reduction to half that amount would be more than the city’s cash reserve of $17 million.
We DO, though, have the exciting $200,000 taxpayer funded city water taste and odor research to look forward to that the Commission recently agreed to pay for. And we do have the nicely bound reports that cost $125,000 of taxpayers’ money to tell us how we could spend up to $21 million on the Bobby Jones golf complex that we don’t actually have!
I don’t call what I wrote “prophetic.” But I’ve been hearing empty promises from people for years who have neither the inclination nor the ability to actually fulfill them.
Count on it: I WILL run again at the next election.
Martin Hyde is a Sarasota resident and owner of Copyforce Inc.