The Longboat Key Town Commission has set its primary goals for the upcoming fiscal years.
Commissioners gathered for their annual strategic planning retreat Monday to discuss priorities and how to approach goals for the town in both the short and long terms.
The meeting allowed for commissioners to discuss priorities prior to the upcoming budget process to ensure funds are allocated accordingly. A primary purpose of the meeting was to set initiatives in the strategic plan placemat.
“This is kind of what is on our plate, what we’re working on,” Town Manager Howard Tipton said.
The placemat is separated into five goals. Each has its own set of initiatives. Goals include community character, fiscal sustainability, environmental and resiliency, infrastructure, and services.
The placemat was put together during a town staff leadership retreat prior to handing it over to the commission. It included goals for short-term focus, specifically in fiscal years 2024 and 2025.
Nearly every goal had town commission top priorities labeled in addition to ones identified by staff.
Under the community character goal, advancing the concept of a community center at the Town Center Green and pursuing funding opportunities for plans in the Gulf of Mexico Complete Streets Corridor Plan were top priorities.
Top priorities under the fiscal sustainability goal include finalizing funding methodology for a townwide canal dredging program and continuing to seek grants to fund improvements suggested in the sea level rise study.
The town is looking into utilizing 3D modeling to measure the heights of infrastructure, using the information to help make decisions about sea level rise projects and to educate the public.
“When we looked at the sea level rise, so much of that is going to be private property owner initiative,” Tipton said. “Being able to show them with the data that has been collected and what the forecast is (for sea level rise). We will be able to show them and zero in on their property so they can see what 2040 looks like or what 2070 looks like. That’s going to be critical for them because that is what spurs that action.”
There were no top commission priorities identified in the environmental and resiliency goal category, but initiatives included new pass groin tightening and identifying existing vehicles in the town’s fleet to be replaced by hybrid vehicles.
Under infrastructure, the primary goal is pursuing Florida Department of Transportation action to improve conditions of a multiuse trail along Gulf of Mexico Drive.
The final goal, services, included priorities such as working with Manatee County and the county’s school board on a north-end community center. Implementing a unified public transit system on the island is another priority in the services section.
Commissioners were given the opportunity to provide feedback on initiatives in the placemat and suggest the addition of initiatives.
Commissioner Penny Gold suggested adding an initiative that could encourage placement of electric vehicle charging stations across the island.
Commissioner Deborah Murphy suggested the town look into pervious parking lot materials when lots need repair or replacement. However, the issue arises with cost of work and materials as the entire lot would need to be removed to give the lot a new base for reaping the benefits of the different surface.
The town included plans to replace all street name signs throughout the town, which led to discussion about the inclusion of signs labeling the different blocks along roads.
“I would think that would be critical because when we gave up our own local 911 and went to Sarasota, the first question they always ask is ‘what block are you in?’” Commissioner BJ Bishop said. “If you’re a tourist or if you’re not paying attention, you’re hard pressed to know unless (a sign) is at each block.”
Long-term goals were also laid out through 2027. The majority of issues included ones that have long been on the town’s radar and will be for years to come. For example, the replacement of the town’s subaqueous force main running under Sarasota Bay is planned for construction in 2025 and beyond.