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Siesta Key Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 2 months ago

Siesta Key group readies incorporation submission

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Save Siesta Key is in the closing stretch of a signature-gathering campaign in support of an independent island government.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

By the end of the month, Save Siesta Key hopes to have a proposed charter finalized for a new municipal government on the barrier island and more than 2,000 signatures in support of incorporation.

With less than two weeks remaining until a deadline to submit materials to the state, however, the group isn’t quite done with its work. Earlier this month, Save Siesta Key Vice Chair Tracy Jackson appeared at a Siesta Key Association meeting to update residents on the status of the incorporation campaign. Although Save Siesta Key is still putting the finishing touches on the charter and a required feasibility study, Jackson said the group is on track to submit everything necessary to the state legislature in time for a Sept. 1 deadline.

“We’re going to make the timeline,” Jackson said.

Save Siesta Key is a group that formed in March to advocate for incorporating Siesta Key as its own municipality within Sarasota County. The group has focused on creating a “government-lite” model on the barrier island, establishing a .25-mill property tax to support a town government while continuing to contract with Sarasota County for most services.

Save Siesta Key has framed incorporation as an opportunity to assert greater local control over the island. The movement arose amid vocal community concern about the county's handling of topics such as proposed hotel developments on Siesta Key and the dredging of Big Pass.

“In order for us to get the representation we think we need on this island, we’ve got to have local voices making local choices,” Jackson said.

In addition to drafting a charter and conducting a feasibility study, Save Siesta Key is gathering petitions from island residents, property owners and businesses to bolster the campaign. So far, Jackson said the group has gotten more than 1,400 signatures toward a target of 2,000. 

The materials Save Siesta Key is assembling will go to the state legislature, which has the power to advance an incorporation proposal via special act. If that effort is successful, the next step would likely be a formal referendum asking affected residents to vote on the question of incorporation.

As Save Siesta Key heads into the final stretch of this leg of its campaign, Jackson said the group is focused on making its submission as compelling as possible by showing a strong base of community support.

“We would really like to overwhelm the legislature,” Jackson said.

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