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Gruters, McFarland expected for Siesta Key incorporation forum

Legislators will hear pitch for a bill enabling local ballot issue.

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  • | 11:45 a.m. December 3, 2021
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A pair of state legislators are expected to be on hand Wednesday night at a town-hall style meeting to discuss Siesta Key’s push for incorporation.

State Sen. Joe Gruters and State Rep. Fiona McFarland will take part in the forum at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 8 at Siesta Key Chapel, 4615 Gleason Ave.

Legislative support for the community’s push to become town is critical, because a ballot measure to put before Siesta Key voters requires approval in Tallahassee first. In a previous forum, Rep. Will Robinson whose district includes the northern end of the island, said he was hesitant to authorize another layer of government and taxation.

At that same forum in September, McFarland asked whether incorporation was the right move if citizens were generally satisfied with government services available to them.

Save Siesta Key board member Harry Anand outlined the impetus for the group’s campaign to incorporate Siesta Key and its vision for how a municipal government would function. The group, which formed in March, isn’t seeking legislative approval of their plans, only approval for a measure to reach the ballot. For that to happen, state legislators must first authorize the referendum.

Save Siesta Key is proposing a “government lite” operating model focused primarily on planning, zoning and code enforcement. Other essential services would be maintained via contracts with the county and other partners.

Save Siesta Key and other residents and business owners have been critical of Sarasota County government leaders in approving controversial development proposals, such as a pair of hotel projects on the island and a mixed-use project called Siesta Promenade on the mainland, just over the south bridge to Siesta Key.

In dismissing reports of much higher taxes if the incorporation measure succeeds, Save Siesta Key said in November that the incorporation feasibility study filed over the summer with the state indicates the would be town would tax residents 0.25 mills over county taxes already assessed. That would add less than $100 in property taxes, the group said.


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