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Siesta Key Thursday, Jul. 21, 2011 6 years ago

Our View: Village should retain control


A great truism is that government closest to the people is the best government. And that is doubly true for Siesta Key, one of Sarasota County’s great tax revenue generators, but one which does not receive as many resources.

So, businesses in Siesta Key Village want to be in control of maintaining the beautification project the county completed in March 2009. The county obliged, creating the Siesta Key Village Public Improvement District to assess property owners within the district an extra tax to pay for higher maintenance levels.

That district is controlled by a board of local business owners in the Village, which runs the bill-paying through the county. County staff has since questioned some of the costs billed by the contractor — JWM Management — for maintenance work and, most recently, has suggested the county take back oversight of the maintenance work in the Village.

That is the nightmare scenario for the Village business owners. They would have the higher assessment fees they agreed to pay, but then would not have control, ceding it to the more distant county that is completely absorbed in its own scandals in, of all things, procurement.

It is hard to imagine that the county would do anywhere near as good a job on the maintenance of the Village as those businesses with personal, vested interests. And those businesses have the same interests in keeping costs in line, so the money can be used for more maintenance.

The county has proven itself weak, to put it mildly, in the area of procurement, and it wants to take over the Village’s procurement of maintenance services? That’s a bad idea for everyone.

The idea of the county running the district was presented to county commissioners recently by Jeff Seward, the county’s chief financial officer. However, because he resigned Monday, there is not even a point person with whom Village leaders can talk.

Commissioners should pull the plug on this idea at their July 26 meeting, when Village maintenance will be on the agenda.

Boats speeding through Siesta Key canals have always been a problem. A plan to lower the speeds by changing the signage from “slow” to “no wake” and adding more signs has apparently stymied other government regulations blocking more signage. Sigh ...

One benefit of less government might be fewer opportunities for government regulators to trip over each other and fumble an otherwise useful change.

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