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To be the most livable and best managed community in the country, providing quality services, programs, and facilities that reflect the goals of the community.


To be the premier community where people choose to live, work and play.


As Sarasota County employees, WE are committed to demonstrating each one of these values at all times.

RESPECT WE demonstrate mutual respect through our professionalism, courtesy and appreciation for diversity.

ACCOUNTABILITY WE are individually and collectively responsible for our actions as stewards of the public’s trust.

INTEGRITY WE adhere to ethical principles, demonstrating mutual respect and conducting ourselves with honesty and sincerity.

QUALITY WE take pride in providing quality public service with passion, innovation and excellence.

TEAMWORK WE foster a collaborative environment that values creativity, sharing information and ideas, and working together to solve problems and accomplish goals.

TRUST WE seek mutual purpose, honor commitments, and use our skills, knowledge and abilities in a way that builds confidence and loyalty.

A Letter from the Interim County Administrator

2 Leadership and Accountability

18 Community

Preservation and enhancement

26 Growth


Dear Citizen, I am pleased to present to you Sarasota County’s 2013 Annual Report, which highlights our most important projects, programs and initiatives this past year. Sarasota County government’s mission is to ensure we are “the most livable and best managed community in the country,” and to provide quality services, programs and facilities that reflect the goals of our community. This

report documents the county’s dedication to service and accountability during 2013, and demonstrates the value that citizens are receiving for their taxpayer dollars. The report begins with “Leadership and Accountability,” which includes information on the workings of Sarasota County’s government and the ways we ensure we are governing responsibly. We also report on how citizen feedback and participation helps us govern, and how taxes and other revenues were allocated in 2013. This past year, we focused most of our goals and activities in six key areas: (1) community preservation and enhancement, (2) growth planning, (3) mobility, (4) water and environmental resources, (5) economic development and (6) health, safety and welfare. The second part of this report is organized in the same fashion. I hope you will enjoy looking back on 2013, take pride in Sarasota County’s many accomplishments, and let us know how we may best serve you in 2014.

30 Mobility 34 Water and

Environmental Resources

40 Economic


44 Health, Safety and Welfare

48 Contact Us

In Public Service,

Thomas A. Harmer Interim County Administrator 2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Ensuring open, responsive and responsible government Integrity, accountability and quality services were the fundamental goals of county leaders in 2013

I AWARDS 2013 Presidential Advocate Award from the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) Sarasota County District 4 — Commissioner Nora Patterson AAA Implied General Obligation Debt Rating from Fitch Ratings — Sarasota County Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association — Sarasota County “A-“ grade and a Sunny Award from Sunshine Review — Sarasota County’s website,



n 2013, the Sarasota County Commission, county administrator, individual county departments and citizens worked together to sustain Sarasota County as a premier community in which to live, work and play. Effectively governing a county that comprises 572 square miles of land, offers an extensive range of services, and is the permanent home of 386,000 citizens requires responsible elected leaders, a disciplined team of talented and dedicated employees, and civicminded citizens willing to engage in the process. It also requires structure. Incorporated in 1921, Sarasota County adopted a Home Rule Charter in 1971, which established the elected Sarasota County Commission as the county’s governing body. (Sarasota County residents also elect the Charter Review Board, which is responsible for reviewing and making changes to the Charter, and the constitutional officers: the sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, and the clerk of the court and comptroller.) The county commission appoints citizen advisory boards and its two employees: the county attorney and the county administrator. In accordance with the county Charter’s council-manager form of government, the county administrator is responsible for hiring and managing the staff and contractors needed to conduct day-to-day operations, provide county services and carry out plans for capital improvement projects. It’s a big order to fill, one that requires coordination, accountability

and creativity, while operating within budgetary, operational, legal and ethical guidelines. “Bureaucracy is not necessarily a negative word; it just means we have processes in place to manage, to follow up on and to track,” said Interim County Administrator Thomas A. Harmer. According to Harmer, all county employees share the responsibility of promoting the organization's high ethical standards, ensuring financial and personal accountability, and delivering quality services.

Sarasota County puts an emphasis on ethics Sarasota County Government is dedicated to demonstrating a high level of integrity and creating a highly ethical working environment. To underscore that dedication, in 2011 Sarasota County created the position of ethics and compliance officer to review and monitor practices and provide staff training in ethical standards and operations. The ethics and compliance officer works to ensure adherence to any rule that dictates how the county operates, including the rules and laws established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Federal Transit Authority. The officer also investigates allegations of ethical violations for the county and conducts risk assessments, ensuring the county’s policies, procedures and processes do not put the county in a position of risk. The ethics and compliance officer also works to ensure that businessprocess recommendations made by the


Citizens expect a high level of service. They want value for their tax dollars and the fees that they pay, but they also expect a relatively high level of service. Historically, Sarasota County has been able to provide that.


Thomas Harmer Interim County Administrator

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Built in 1973, the Sarasota County Administration Building at 1660 Ringling Blvd. houses the county commission and its meeting chambers, the county administrator and many county departments.


internal auditors mitigating risk are implemented and followed by the individual departments. He also conducts ethics and fraud awareness training for employees to make them more aware of red flags, issues and risky business practices. “Prevention first; that’s the way I look at it, and prevention starts with defined processes and transparency… including open and honest communication,” said Stephen Uebelacker, the ethics and compliance officer. Uebelacker also works with EthicsPoint, an independent, outside reporting company that hosts a telephone hotline so citizens and employees can anonymously report fraud, waste and abuse: 1-855-506-0304. Uebelacker has also helped the county to enact several new policies, including a non-retaliation policy that ensures county employees are not subject to retaliation for reports made in good faith alleging fraud, waste, abuse or misconduct.

Sarasota County is committed to an open, accountable government Transparency in government — making certain the inner workings of government can easily be seen by citizens — also helps ensure ethics compliance and that government is held accountable for its activities, especially in regard to spending. Sarasota County Government provides comprehensive, unfiltered information about the county's fiscal policies, priorities and operations.


Financial documents are readily available via links from the county website, scgov. net, including departmental expenditures, financial policies, budget documents, budget amendments, revenue sources and a solicitation schedule. Expenditures are contained in a searchable database, and each month the data are refreshed with current information. “We have reporting requirements that come in on a monthly, quarterly and mid-year basis so that we can see how our departments are performing and are within our authorized budget,” said Harmer. “As an administrator, you always want to tie that back to the goals and the expectations of the board to make sure we’re doing what we committed to do.”

Public records and open meetings provide transparency Posting vital information to the public website, including the financial reports, helps to ensure transparency and gives the public a convenient way to stay informed. The county also publishes on the website all emails between the county commissioners and the county administrator. It is not possible to post every record created by the county in the course of its day-to-day operations. Citizens can obtain access to other records via a public records request, which can be submitted using the website, telephoning 861-5000, or making a request in person. In 2013, Sarasota County’s Communications Department began tracking countywide public records requests. On average, 75 requests were processed monthly. (This amount does not include

requests to the Clerk of the Court or the other constitutional officers.) The requests range from simple — asking for a copy of one easily accessed document — to very complex, such as requests for all current and historical records related to a specific issue. In addition to records being available to the public, all Sarasota County Commission meetings and hearings are open to the public. Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law provides a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels. Citizens can easily take a more active role and follow county commission meetings by viewing them on the county’s TV channel, Access19, or online at, or attending them in person. Unless otherwise advertised, all regular meetings of the Sarasota County Commission are held at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday and Wednesday of each month. The meetings are held at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, or the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice. To view the monthly online calendar of meetings, visit the county’s website,

Important information, including streaming video of public meetings, can be viewed on Sarasota County's website,

From left: Commissioners Joseph Barbetta, Christine Robinson, Carolyn Mason, Nora Patterson and Charles D. Hines.

The 2013 Sarasota County Commission Carolyn Mason, Chair

Christine Robinson

Charles D. Hines, Vice Chair

District 1

District 3

District 5

Elected to the Sarasota County Commission in 2008, Commissioner Mason previously served on the Sarasota City Commission from 1999 to 2003 and as mayor from 2001 to 2003.

Appointed to the Commission in 2010 and elected in 2012, Robinson is a practicing attorney in South Sarasota County. She is a former Sarasota County Planning Commissioner and former Trustee with State College of Florida who is active with many civic and business organizations.

Elected to the Sarasota County Commission in 2012, Commissioner Hines is an attorney in Venice and has been practicing law for 22 years in Sarasota County.

Joseph Barbetta District 2 Elected in 2006, Commissioner Barbetta is actively involved in numerous planning, environmental, economic development, civic and legal organizations.

Nora Patterson District 4 In her fourth term, Commissioner Patterson represents Sarasota in planning issues involving transportation, water resources and tourism development. She also serves on the boards of directors of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of the Suncoast Inc. and Teen Court of Sarasota Inc.

Sarasota County’s districts


2 4

3 5 2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Sarasota County Government’s organizational structure County Commission

Constitutional Officers

Five commissioners are elected countywide to serve four-year terms on the county commission, but each commissioner must live in a specific district. With the exception of emergency ordinances, commissioners adopt new ordinances (laws) by affirmative vote of three members. Adopted ordinances become part of the Sarasota County Code of Ordinances. (You can view the Code of Ordinances on the website The county commission also makes decisions on any amendments to the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, which governs land use.

Sarasota County also has five constitutional officers, each elected by the public for terms of four years: the sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, and the clerk of the circuit court and comptroller. These elected officials operate independently of the county commission.

Charter Review Board The Charter Review Board is responsible for review and changes to the county charter. It is composed of 10 members — two from each commission district — who serve four-year terms without compensation. They are elected countywide by voters during each general election.

Citizen Advisory Boards Because Sarasota County values the participation and input of its residents in the decision-making process, the county also has more than 30 citizen advisory boards, councils and committees, whose members are appointed by the county commission. Each board focuses on a specific issue or topic in areas such as economic development, the environment, libraries, and health and human services. Membership requirements, meeting frequency and length of terms vary.

Sarasota County leaders ceremoniously celebrated the groundbreaking of the future Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in December 2013. The new EOC is scheduled for completion by 2015.



County Administrator The county commission appoints only two employees: the county administrator and the county attorney. Thomas A. Harmer has been the interim county administer since October 2013. Stephen DeMarsh has served as the county attorney since October 2004. The county administrator is the chief administrative officer for the county and serves at the pleasure of the county commission. All employees under the county commission, with the exception of the Office of the County Attorney, report to the county administrator, who is solely responsible for hiring and dismissing employees.

Departments The county administrator is also responsible for the day-to-

• Public Utilities • Neighborhood Services • Planning and Development Services

In May 2013, Sarasota County marked the completion of a two-year project to extend North Cattlemen Road with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Nathan Benderson Park.

day operations of the county, which includes three utility service operations: water/sewer, stormwater and solid waste; fire protection and EMS service (to unincorporated areas and some municipalities); infrastructure programs; a countywide transit operation; and a full range of community and human services, in the form of libraries, parks, recreation, health-related services, planning, zoning, permitting and environmental resource management. These operations/services—and the employees who perform them— are organized into departments:

Management Systems • Capital Assets (Public Works) • Capital Projects • Enterprise Information Technology • Field Services • Financial Planning • Fire and Emergency Services • General Services • Human Resources • Traffic Engineering In addition to the three functional groups listed above, four departments report directly to the county administrator: Communications; Ethics and Compliance; Community and Intergovernmental Relations; and Sustainability.

Community Services • Health and Human Services • Libraries and Historical Resources • Natural Resources • Parks and Recreation • Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension • Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) Starting in 2009, Sarasota County began building fire stations to LEED Silver certified standards and able to withstand Category 4 hurricanes. Today, there are four stations built to these standards, and four more in the planning stage.

Community Planning • Community Redevelopment Agency • Business and Economic Development

In order to serve all citizens and ensure accessibility, Sarasota County Libraries offer many ways to assist vision impaired readers such as low-vision monitors, special lighting, magnifiers and large print books.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Spending wisely How your tax dollars were allocated in 2013


he guidance communicated to the county administration by the county commission was to prepare and follow a budget for 2013 that represented no increase in spending over the previous year, while providing the same level of service to the community. Since the county, like

other organizations, normally experiences annual increases in inflationary expenses, such as fuel, contractual agreements and benefits, each department was required to find operating efficiencies elsewhere to offset these impacts. The charts on these and the next two pages represent actual

As a general rule, there’s an expectation that the department directors are always looking for the most cost-effective way to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.

Thomas Harmer Interim County Administrator

Major Revenues in Fiscal Year 2013 Property Taxes (countywide) Infrastructure Sales Surtax


Half-Cent Sales Tax


Impact Fees


Gas Taxes


FP&L Franchise Fee


Tourist Development Tax


Communications Services Tax


State Revenue Sharing Total




$8,219,825 $262,099,688

revenue and operating and capital expenditures for Fiscal Year 2013. (Sarasota County’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.) Operating expenditures are the ongoing costs of providing services and the maintenance and operation of facilities and infrastructure. Capital expenditures include the purchase of land, construction of buildings, major improvements and construction of basic infrastructure. The revenue shown is less than the $896.9 million budgeted for FY2013. In 2006, Sarasota County Government implemented a policy to maintain two reserves in its General Fund: a Contingency/ Emergency/Disaster Relief Reserve, which includes 90 days of operating expenditures, and a Budget Stabilization/ Economic Uncertainty Fund, which includes 30 to 60 days of General Fund operating expenditures. Due to years of sound fiscal policy, such as maintaining conservative spending levels during the “boom years” and taking early action to control and reduce employee staffing levels during the beginning of the economic downturn, both reserves were fully funded at the beginning of 2013. The latter fund was used to help fund operating expenditures in FY2013.

Sarasota County Millage Rate* 5

4 3


















FY00 FY01 FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13

Millage Rate Sarasota County’s FY13 millage rate was the third lowest in Florida. Other Florida millage rates range from 3.1229 (Monroe County) to 10.0 (Calhoun, Hamilton, Liberty and Union counties).

Millage Rates for Cities in Sarasota County City of Sarasota** = 3.5817

City of Venice = 3.3020

Town of Longboat Key = 2.1932

City of North Port = 3.6167

**(not including special districts run by the City) *Millage Rate - the tax rate that is applied to the assessed value of real estate. One mill is equivalent to $1 in taxes per $1,000 in taxable value. For example, if your property has a taxable value of $100,000, and you’re assessed a 1 mill tax rate, you’ll pay $100 in taxes. To calculate your actual tax bill based on the millage rate, multiply the millage rate by the taxable value of your property, then divide by 1,000.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Total Operating Expenditures by Department for Fiscal Year 2013 Department


% of Total

Office of Financial Management



Planning and Development Services



Fire and Emergency Services





Public Utilities Health and Human Services



Human Resources



Enterprise Information Technology







Office of County Administrator



Economic Development







Communications Field and General Services

Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) Neighborhood Services



Libraries and Historical Resouces

Community Redevelopment



Parks and Recreation



Natural Resources



UF IFAS Extension



Transportation & Real Estate



General Services



Field Services



Capital Projects





Total Expenditures

Sarasota County honored for budget presentation for 23rd year The Sarasota County Office of Financial Management once again received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its Fiscal Year 2013 budget. The award is the highest professional recognition in governmental budgeting and is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The county has won the award for 23 consecutive years. The GFOA established the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program in 1984 to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality. Budgets presented with the award also reflect the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting.



Capital Improvement Program Project Expenditures by Department for Fiscal Year 2013 Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) $1,093,825 • 1.1%

Public Works Transportation & Real Estate $31,875,153 • 31.5%

Community Redevelopment $3,868,455 • 3.8% Neighborhood Services $798,711 • 0.8%

Economic Development $179,678 • 0.2%

Parks and Recreation $17,631,601 • 17.3%

Public Works - General Services $5,425,060 • 5.3% Natural Resources $137,956 • 0.1%

Libraries and Historical Resources $1,919,126 • 1.9%

Public Works - Public Utilities $32,779,245 • 32.2%

Enterprise Information Technology $1,671,745 • 1.6% Emergency Services $4,280,403 • 4.2%

Capital Improvement Program Project Expenditures by CIP Category for Fiscal Year 2013 CIP Category Community Redevelopment

Amount $3,868,455.26

Economic Development


Emergency Communications


Emergency Management


Fire and Rescue


General Government


Information Technology




Natural Resources Navigable Waterways Neighborhoods Parks and Recreation Potable Water Reuse Water

$126,886.14 $11,069.89 $798,710.57 $17,631,600.69 $4,661,518.05 $75,092.11

Solid Waste




Traffic Circulation


Transit Services Wastewater Watershed Restoration Total

$1,093,824.74 $13,091,475.86 $1,701,120.45

Sarasota County earned AAA debt rating in 2013 Sarasota County's AAA implied general obligation debt rating was reaffirmed in 2013 by Fitch Ratings, a national bond rating agency. The AAA rating reflects the county's excellent credit profile and healthy financial position. Fitch said the county's healthy financial position is due to conservative budgeting practices, strong management and economic recovery efforts. These characteristics, including sizable reserves and a low debt burden, are part of the rationale behind the AAA for the implied general obligation debt rating. Nearly 90 percent of the world’s largest institutional investors use Fitch Ratings for in-depth analysis, comprehensive research and easily understood criteria for rating state and local governments, public housing, higher education, healthcare, public power and public transportation bonds. Fitch Ratings reports enable investors to make decisions about government entities and financing across the 50 states.


2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Involving citizens in the process Sarasota County citizens helped set priorities, made things happen and shaped the future in 2013


arasota County’s mission is to provide “quality services, programs and facilities that reflect the goals of the community.” County departments continuously reach out to citizens for feedback on new initiatives, to seek their help as volunteers, and to gauge the county’s performance. From neighborhood workshops and surveys to social media postings and online discussions, county departments utilized a variety of outlets and tools in 2013 to keep citizens involved.

Workshops help the county gain perspective Throughout the year, workshops were held at county sites and neighborhood venues to inform citizens on new programs, projects and initiatives. One such event was held in August 2013 at Twin Lakes Park to discuss the proposed Florida's Statewide Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan, developed by the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical

People love volunteering at the library, and that is one area of our community engagement that goes beyond just the fact that they come to the library. Our volunteers are actually our emissaries back out to the community.

Sarabeth Kalajian Director, Libraries and Historical Resources



Resources. Participants discussed how the plan can guide efforts to preserve Florida's history and historical, archaeological and cultural resources. Another opportunity for citizens to contribute feedback was through Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT). SCAT held four meetings for the public to review and comment on potential changes to SCAT’s Transit Development Plan, a 10-year strategic guide. Topics included future bus routes, planned programs and existing services. To plan for the new Gulf Gate Library, the project team invited citizens to participate in a series of six public workshops, as well as to view plans and renderings displayed in the library and submit feedback. This strategy of engaging stakeholders in designing a public building was the topic of a Florida Library Association 2013 Conference presentation by library staff and Harvard Jolly Architects, using the Gulf Gate Library as a case study. Sarasota Planning and Development holds information sessions and notifies communities about land-use decisions on a regular basis. “We have workshops that we conduct — usually in public facilities such as Twin Lakes Park or the Administration Building on Ringling Boulevard — to discuss amendments like the 2050 plan and other land-use initiatives,” said Tom Polk, director of Planning and Development. (2050, added to the county’s Comprehensive Plan a decade ago, sought to balance future growth and development over the next 50 years with preservation of environmentally sensitive lands.) “We are always open to try to gain some perspectives from workshops that we conduct. We’re certainly always in the community conversation,” he said. Community workshops are also held regularly to educate the public on important

issues that may affect residents’ safety and well-being. “We have done over 60 disaster preparedness presentations to different civic groups and neighborhood associations in the past year to try to get people to be more resilient and more self-sufficient during a disaster,” said Ed McCrane, director of Emergency Management. Other educational activities include the Sarasota County Fire Department’s Learn Not to Burn program for children, presented at Sarasota County schools. For citizens who desire in-depth information on the role of county departments, the Sarasota County Government Civics 101 Program offers the opportunity to go behind the scenes to see and learn what departments do, including Community Services, Emergency Services, Financial Planning, Health and Human Services, Planning and Development Services, and Environmental Services.


Surveys help the county gauge performance

Service   •   88 percent of survey respondents are either “very” (30  percent) or “somewhat” (58 percent) satisfied with the  services provided by Sarasota Government.  •   24 percent of survey respondents had contacted the  county in the past year to get information or to seek  resolutions for problems. County officials got high  marks from the citizens who have contacted them:   •   86 percent were treated with respect   •   77 percent were given correct information   •   70 percent were helped in a timely manner

In July 2013, the 22nd Citizen Opinion Survey was conducted by the Florida Institute of Government at University of South Florida, with USF’s Dr. Susan A. MacManus as the principal

Quality of life •  91percent of survey respondents rate the overall      quality of life in Sarasota County as excellent or good. •   54 percent gave excellent ratings to life in their       own neighborhood. 

Economy For the sixth year in a row, the 2013 survey showed  that, according to the respondents, the most important  issue facing the county today is the “economy/jobs” at  18 percent; however, this was a 36-percent drop from  2012, a sign of an improving economy. Moreover, 69  percent said they think the county’s economy is on the  road to recovery, up from 56 percent in 2012. 

The future Respondents were asked what they believe the county  should focus on going forward: •   More good-paying jobs – 67 percent •   Keep the public safe – 56 percent •   Protect environmental quality – 55 percent •   Efficient energy consumption – 47 percent •   Effective growth policies – 46 percent •  Availability of affordable housing – 43 percent   •   Parks and recreation – 27 percent •   Arts and cultural diversity – 22 percent


Every year, Sarasota County conducts a survey to gauge its performance and learn what issues are important to citizens. The 2013 survey included technology questions to see how citizens prefer to access county information.

When asked whether the spending priorities of the  county are about right or needs prioritizing: •   47 percent believes reprioritization is needed •   34 percent sees the county’s spending priorities to be   about right.  2013 Sarasota County Annual 2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



In 2013, Sarasota County Planning and Development met with members of the Pinecraft community to discuss a land-use plan that will preserve their way of life.

investigator. A major focus of the 2013 survey was how to provide Sarasota County residents with useful information about county services, events and activities and make it easier for them to directly interface with county decision-makers. The survey helps the county know what issues are important to citizens, tells how well the county is serving the community, and also shows what areas may need improvement. In 2013, for the first time, the survey focused on social media, technology and how residents access government information. “Besides yearly tracking questions, we did a section on how citizens interacted with their government. It was a new strategy in the citizen survey,” said Donn Patchen, director of Communications. The county also routinely conducts citizen surveys to gauge the county’s performance in meeting specific community needs. For example, Parks and Recreation asks parents to provide their evaluations of the summer camp programs via surveys. The Sarasota County Library System conducts a “Voice of the Customer” survey twice a year, and a website feature invites citizens to recommend books and media to add to the library collection. The Fire Department mails citizen surveys for EMS and fire calls, and also has a survey



available online. “We basically ask them to assess our performance, how we did responding to their emergencies. We routinely survey the citizens and find out how we’re doing,” said Chief Mike Tobias of Emergency Services. The Emergency Management Department sends out similar surveys, focusing on its People with Special Needs evacuation program. “We sent out a survey card to all of the people in our special needs registry, asking them for their input and feedback on what they think about the system that we use; if they’ve ever had to be sheltered; how the experience was; and how often they want to be contacted; and we try to implement their input in our process,” said Ed McCrane, director of Emergency Management. In addition, citizens are often surveyed throughout the year to garner feedback and opinion on initiatives. In 2013, Sarasota County sought customer feedback while exploring whether a merger of SCAT and Manatee County Area Transit would result in an expanded and more efficient regional transit system for riders. The survey also included questions to gauge level of service. “We had very positive feedback. A whopping 86 percent said that they were satisfied with the current level of service that they are receiving from SCAT,” said Glama Carter, director of SCAT.

Online discussions create a community conversation The county also uses online tools to solicit citizens’ opinions on particular topics. In 2013, Sarasota County sought public input and comments on its draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan via the county's wiki site. During the past year, Sarasota County also asked for feedback via its website,, about Sarasota 2050, a long-range, overlay component of the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Citizens were asked to comment on important principles or criteria for development in the eastern part of Sarasota County, and potential changes to Sarasota 2050 policies.

Communications gets proactive to reach citizens In 2013, Sarasota County expanded its Facebook presence to tailor county news directly to targeted audiences as part of the Communications Department’s goal to improve the county’s social media presence. By offering individual pages organized by department, citizens can quickly access the specific information they seek instead of sifting through a website. Facebook pages were launched in 2013 for Commissioner Christine Robinson, Parks and Recreation, Libraries, Green Business Partnership, Neighborhood Services, and Community Redevelopment. In addition, the county’s official facebook page changed from Community Connections to Sarasota County Government, and Hurricane Central is now Emergency Management. “We’ve empowered more departments to have a social media presence with Facebook and Twitter to reach those citizens who are interested in specific programs or services,” said Patchen. “With our guidance, the departments are starting to reach people and provide the information they want to know from their government.” In 2014, the Communications Department will create a campaign to market the Call Center telephone number (861-5000) for citizens to use to contact the county about anything other than an emergency. “The front door to the county is the Call Center,” said Patchen. “We want to get to the point where county residents know they have the ease of a single point of contact for the entire county.” “The Communications Department will continue to find innovative and creative ways to make sure our residents know what their

Sarasota County stepped up its social media presence in 2013 to better serve citizens with quick and easy access to up-to-date information on county services.

BY THE NUMBERS: 800 people, on average, volunteer with the county        each month.  

8,000 volunteer hours are donated countywide each  month, on average.

$177,120 is the estimated value of volunteer work  performed countywide each month.

1,202 web pages managed by Sarasota County  Communications Department.

13,523 is the average daily volume of mail and other  items handled by the county’s Mail Room.

175,717 calls were answered by the Call Center            in 2013.

$2.7 million is the estimated value of the volunteer  time donated to Parks and Recreation in 2013.

$1.7 million is the estimated value of Libraries  volunteer time in 2013.

4.9 million items were printed by the county’s Print  Shop in 2013; most of printed items were information materials  for county residents.

30,614 viewers of Commission meetings streamed on in 2013. 2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



SARASOTA COUNTY CITIZEN ADVISORY BOARDS Citizen advisory boards, councils and committees  are appointed by the county commission.  Each board focuses on a specific issue or topic. •   Bicycle/Pedestrian/Trail Advisory Committee •   Board of Zoning Appeals •   Building Code Board of Adjustments and Appeals •   Citizen Tax Oversight Committee •   Citizens Advisory Committee for Public Transportation •   Coastal Advisory Committee •   Community Action Agency Board •   Development Services Advisory Committee •   Englewood Community Redevelopment Area           Advisory Board •   Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee •   Fire-Rescue and Emergency Medical Services         Advisory Board •   General Contractors Licensing and Examining Board •   Health Facilities Authority and Industrial Development  Revenue Bond Citizens Advisory Committee •   Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida •   Historic Preservation Board •  Historical Commission   •   Human Services Advisory Council •   Integrated Pest Management Advisory Board •   Keep Sarasota County Beautiful Advisory Board •   Library Advisory Board •   Mechanical Contractors Licensing and Examining Board •   Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizens             Advisory Committee •   Parks Advisory and Recreation Council •   Planning Commission •   Public Facilities Financing Advisory Board •   Sarasota Tree Advisory Council •   Stormwater Environmental Utility Advisory Committee •   Tourist Development Council •   Traffic Advisory Council •   Water and Sewer Advisory Committee •   Waterways Advisory Council •   Well Drilling Advisory Board To find out more about Sarasota County Advisory Boards  and how to get involved, visit,    or call 941-861-5000.

16 941-861-5000 

Young volunteers get their hands dirty while helping Keep Sarasota County Beautiful (KSCB).

government can do for them, what they’re currently doing for them, and how they’re doing it,” added Patchen.

Volunteers interact and make an impact From teaching people to use new technology at the library, to carrying fruit at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market, the opportunities for citizens to actively engage in the county as a volunteer are as vast as they are diverse. As needs arise, volunteer opportunities are posted on where interested citizens can browse them and fill out an application. In 2013, a new volunteer program coordinator position was created within the Human Resources Department to lead the efforts in recruiting and facilitating volunteer work. “It’s now organized in a centralized program,” said Joanie Whitley, director of Human Resources. “There are a lot of volunteer opportunities being placed regularly on the web page. Over the last year there was a new focus on making the program more robust, now that we have a person dedicated to volunteerism in the community.” On occasion, volunteers are sought to assist with events such as the Great American Cleanup through Keep Sarasota County Beautiful (KSCB). KSCB reported that in 2013, more than 680 volunteers picked up 6,371 pounds of trash, recyclables and other refuse at locations across the county. “We had a huge turnout this year in terms of the number of volunteers,” said David Cash, interim director of Public Utilities. Another example of volunteering is working outdoors in an environmental role with the department of Natural Resources. “We offer hundreds of nature walks, and a significant

portion of them are volunteer-led by citizens who value the lands and assist us by sharing their knowledge and passion with others,” said Amy Meese, director of Natural Resources. Parks and Recreation also has a large volunteer base. Nearly 6,000 volunteers donated more than 124,000 hours in 2013. The Friends of Sarasota County Parks was one of the largest contributors of those hours. The Friends play a vital role in coordinating volunteer efforts to enhance our park system, encouraging the donation of gifts, and being a “Friend” at every opportunity. “Their dedication and enthusiasm are remarkable,” said Carolyn Brown, director of Parks and Recreation. Libraries and Historical Resources staff worked alongside more than 1,200 volunteers in 2013. “We have a very deep and talented volunteer pool,” said Sarabeth Kalajian, director of Libraries and Historical Resources. “The contributions of the volunteers, the Friends of the Libraries and the Library Foundation have been tremendous.”

The citizen advisory boards give guidance Sarasota County Government values the participation and input of its residents in the decision-making process. The county has more than 30 citizen advisory boards, councils and committees, with members appointed by the county commission. Each board focuses on a specific issue or topic in areas such as economic development, the environment, libraries, and health and human services. “We have a citizen advisory board that we meet with quarterly. We look to them to provide feedback from the level of the citizens as far as budget; we give them a copy of our performance measures,” said Chief Tobias. “It’s a good opportunity to have people from throughout the community — all walks of life — giving us that feedback. They are our eyes and ears in the community.”

In 2013, the Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) sponsored a countywide contest among schoolchildren to create illustrations for its 2014 calendar. Pictured are the county commissioners and the students with their winning entries, representing the 12 months and the cover illustration.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Enriching the lives of our county residents Sarasota County’s assets helped make this a land of learning and leisure in 2013


reserving and enhancing the recreational, educational, cultural and historical features that make Sarasota County such a great place to live, work and play is an essential focus of county government. The county has a vast network of parks, beaches and recreation facilities, 67,000 acres of natural lands and wildlife preserves, and nine public libraries to maintain. In 2013, it also launched a number of new programs and oversaw many improvements to these community assets. There are currently more than 40 ongoing improvement projects for parks managed by Sarasota County. In addition, two new parks were opened in the past year.

In 2013, Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension hosted a Butterfly Workshop, which included a tour of Twin Lakes Park's butterfly garden.



New parks encourage citizens to get out and enjoy the outdoors Culverhouse Nature Park, an 82-acre property, was acquired by Sarasota County in July 2010 through a donation from the Culverhouse family. One of seven trailheads for The Legacy Trail, Culverhouse Nature Park offers opportunities for picnicking, hiking and gardening. The newly opened,10-acre Osprey Junction Trailhead, located at the east end of Bay Street, was purchased by Sarasota County in late 2008 with funds from the Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program. This dog-friendly park provides picnicking opportunities and parking for access to The Legacy Trail. Sarasota County’s Nathan Benderson Park has garnered much excitement and has received international recognition. What was once a mining pit, then a passive neighborhood park for fishing and bird watching is being transformed into a 600acre regional park and rowing venue, and will become a regional attraction with significant impact on economic development and tourism. In addition to being named host of the 2017 World Rowing Championships, the project earned multiple planning awards for the combined work of many county departments in 2013. Parks provide a sense of place in the community, according to Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Director Carolyn Brown. “People use them to gather; people use them to meet their friends; people use our parks to exercise and to get healthy,” said Brown. “Sarasota County is blessed with so many wonderful resources between our beaches and our park areas. The public needs to be aware of the parks that we have in our community and get out there and enjoy them.”

More than just a walk in the park Florida’s parks have become an integral component to economic development for our communities. Parks provide an investment in the infrastructure needed to accommodate revenue-generating sporting events and tourism, benefiting the local economy and community as a whole. In 2013, Parks and Recreation contributed to economic impact within Sarasota County by supporting major sporting events and activities, including rowing and BMX events, youth baseball tournaments, triathlons, beach volleyball, and partnering with the Baltimore Orioles. The Parks and Recreation Department offers an array of programs and activities that bring citizens of all ages together to promote an active lifestyle. Sports opportunities, exercise classes, programs and activities are offered on a regular basis at community centers and parks across the county. From Colonial Oaks Park in Sarasota to Englewood Sports Complex in Englewood, children’s programs are plentiful at Sarasota County community centers and parks. Just a few examples of programs include 4-H Clogging Clovers, Fun Fridays for Home Schoolers, Reading Café, Tunnels of Fun, Tae Kwon Do and the Go Fish! program. There are also programs for children and adults with special needs at several county parks and community centers. Parks and Recreation plays a lead role in the T-REC Coalition of Sarasota County. Composed of eight local community agencies, this group works together to provide therapeutic recreational opportunities for individuals with special needs living in Sarasota County. Summer Camp is one of the largest ongoing programs for children offered through Parks and Recreation. In 2013, full-day camps, which were offered over 11 weeks, included: Traditional Day Camp for children entering grades 1 through 5, Adventure Camp for youth entering grades

6 through 8, Leadership/Counselor In Training Camp for youths entering grades 9 and 10, and Therapeutic Camp for children with special needs. More than 35 specialty camps were offered last summer to allow for the opportunity to focus on a favorite activity. In addition to classes and sports programs, the county’s recreational facilities often present special events. Phillippi Estate Park held the popular “Brown Bag Lunch” concert series in February and March. Twin Lakes Park hosted the “17th Annual Big Truck Day” in April 2013. Buses, dump trucks, fire trucks, law enforcement vehicles and more were available for kids to climb inside, pull the levers, honk the horns, and imagine what it's like to operate some of the county's most powerful machines. “It's a great event that keeps going strong year after year,” said Program Coordinator Jamal Edwards of Sarasota County Parks and Recreation. “The kids light up when they sit in the cab and imagine what it's like to be driving one of these big machines down the road.”

A wild bobcat shows its spots amid the native habitat at Shamrock Park and Nature Center in Venice. The 80 acres of natural land is home to many endangered or threatened animals. Photo by Jason Maiolo.

Parks and Recreation plays a major role in providing athletic events, tournaments and eco-tourism opportunities, and we manage 14 beaches, which is a huge economic driver for our community.

Carolyn Brown Director of Parks and Recreation

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report


COMMUNITY PRESERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT where campers can pitch their tents or park their recreational vehicles (RVs) only a few short steps away from the Gulf of Mexico. During the summer of 2013, Sarasota County residents were able to camp at Turtle Beach at a two-for-one price. “Turtle Beach Campground is incredibly popular with visitors and frequently is sold out,” said Tricia Wisner of Sarasota County Parks and Recreation. “We wanted to offer Sarasota County residents a special incentive so they can experience this hidden jewel of our parks system.”

Improving the county’s greatest assets – our beaches

Sarasota's “mid-week” market, Phillippi Farmhouse Market at Phillippi Estate Park, served 84,000 shoppers in 2013.


In March 2013, more than 52 local artisans, vendors and craftsmen packed the Englewood Sports Complex for the Spring Arts and Crafts Show, while the Summer Arts and Crafts Show in August was held at the Venice Community Center (VCC). “It's a very popular event every year because of the quality of the merchandise, the uniqueness of the items and people being able to shop in such a comfortable environment,” said Dorian Mattox, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation program coordinator. The VCC offers a full season of live entertainment with national touring groups. The 2012-2013 Season of Shows presented Abba Tribute, Chicago Tribute, Eagles Tribute, Neil Diamond Tribute and a Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison Tribute Show. The shows each averaged approximately 850 guests. The Phillippi Farmhouse Market is a partnership between Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, County Extension and Friends of Sarasota County Parks. This seasonal market opened in January of 2010 with 19 vendors and is now in its fifth season with more than 40 vendors. The market is held on the grounds of Phillippi Estate Park and is open every Wednesday from October through April, to coincide with the growing season in Southwest Florida. Last season, approximately 84,000 shoppers attended the market. A portion of its proceeds are donated to the renovation of Phillippi Estate Park’s historic Keith Farmhouse, the first building erected on the property in 1916. To date, the Phillippi Farmhouse Market has donated $40,000 to the renovation. Sarasota County Parks and Recreation also manages the Turtle Beach Campground on Siesta Key, one of only a handful of spots in Florida


In Sarasota County, where powdery white sand and blue-green water have a world-renowned reputation, beaches are certainly worth the county’s investment. One of 14 public beaches the county manages, Manasota Beach Park underwent a $1.5-million improvement last year to update aging features, maintain the natural aspects of the park, provide safer access from parking areas and improve Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility. Improvements included a new restroom facility, a multipurpose room, an emergency treatment room, paved walkways, additional beach showers, and updated pavilions, picnic areas, parking and pedestrian walkways. “When people come to Florida, they want to visit the beach,” said Brown. “Here in Sarasota County we have some of the best beaches in the world. We strive to preserve the natural features of the beach while maintaining clean and functional amenities to provide a memorable experience.” In 2013 the county commissioners approved plans for one of the largest and most anticipated future beach improvements, the Siesta Key Beach Park Improvement Project, which will take 24 months to complete. This project will include increasing and improving parking and pedestrian access, upgrading and expanding recreational opportunities and facilities, a new elevated east concession and restroom facility and the restoration of the historic pavilion built in the 1950s. Another current project is at North Jetty Beach Park on the south end of Casey Key, which includes the construction of a new combined restroom and concession facility. The new facility is anticipated to be completed in 2014. Natural Resources launched the first renourishment of the South Siesta Key beach restoration project in 2013. The project includes placing beach-compatible sand along the shoreline from Turtle Beach and the adjacent

Gulf shorelines to the north and south, for a total project length of just over 2 miles. The goal is to commence construction after turtle nesting season, in November or December of 2014.

Gulf Gate Library temporarily moved to the mall While outdoor venues received vast attention from the county in 2013, a quieter, indoor venue also experienced a major change. In February 2013, the Gulf Gate Library was temporarily relocated to the Westfield Sarasota Square Mall; and in September, Sarasota County officials celebrated the groundbreaking for the new Gulf Gate Library at its original location. Construction for the $7.6-million, two-story, 25,800-square-foot library is projected to be completed in the fall of 2014. “There has been a lot of focus on that community, and how the residents will be served. It’s been an interesting experiment to locate a library at the mall, while at the same time plan for this tremendous new building,” said Sarabeth Kalajian, director of the Sarasota County Library System and Historical Resources. Opportunities at the mall include introducing new library users to the variety of services, while attracting larger audiences for programs and special events. “In particular, teens and families enjoy the convenience of combining a trip to the library with other activities at the mall,” said Kalajian. “We anticipate that all of these folks will follow us back to the new Gulf Gate Library when it opens.”

Libraries pilot new programs and redesigns In addition to rebuilding an entire physical library, the Sarasota County Library System redesigned its electronic home to make accessing information even more convenient. In March 2013, the Libraries’ website address changed to The site features downloadable e-books, e-audiobooks

and e-videos; an events calendar; online meeting room request system, databases providing newspaper and magazine articles; interactive help; and SUNCAT, the library catalog. The library website averages 21,000 visitors a month and provides regular updates on library news, programs and services. Keeping up with technology is a critical need of libraries as more government and social service agencies send citizens to libraries to access computers. Kalajian anticipates increased usage of eFormat books, audio/video recordings, and free downloadable music. In addition, patrons may now pay fees online as of August 2013. Instead of designing them in-house, Libraries created a contest for young artists to redesign the county’s library cards. The Design-a-Card contest, which was available online and at each library, asked young artists to design a card based on “What my library means to me.” The two winners were 15-year old Venice High student Martin Pohlmann, whose graphic design “Endless Possibilities” won, and 11-yearold Woodland Middle School student Kerry MacLean, whose winning drawing, “I Love My Library,” is now available on county library cards. There were 183 contest entries reviewed by a panel of judges that included representatives from the Sarasota County Commission, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota County Library System and Sarasota County Schools. Sarasota County’s Library System took on a new role in 2013: acting as official host sites for people to obtain information on the Affordable Care Act. Libraries partnered with Health and Human Services to provide county workers to help citizens with the new healthcare system. According to Kalajian, the library is the perfect place for this type of assistance because libraries are viewed as a “neutral“ venue, and there is free Internet access.

The Siesta Key Beach Improvement Project, which broke ground January 2014, will take 24 months to complete. A newly renovated pavilion is among the highly anticipated changes.

Partnerships allow libraries to expand their reach Libraries are a key community resource for 2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Thanks to a partnership between the Humane Society and Sarasota County Libraries, the Read to Dogs program encourages reading in a joyful, nonjudgmental and no-pressure setting through reading to trained therapy dogs.

children’s programs that improve literacy, child development and early education. One such program that was created in 2013 is Read to Me, a literacy program for children of an incarcerated parent. The goal of Read to Me was to reduce recidivism rates for the adults, maintain family bonds and increase literacy among the children. New this past year in each Sarasota County library are early literacy stations, which were funded through a partnership with The Library Foundation for Sarasota County, the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The computers feature touch screens, rich graphics and animation, lively music and audio cues, and multiple languages. “It is amazing to see the children’s reactions, from the youngest toddlers through older elementary-age students; and parents think the stations are great, too,” said Kalajian. Libraries also joined with the American Association of University Women along with the Friends of the Library and Mote Marine to present the Girls, Gadgetry and Galvanizing Genius program, in which girls ages 9-12 participated in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs. The Sarasota County Library System also partnered with The Ringling Museum in 2013 to form a new arts appreciation program that will enable the library system to expand its community education and outreach efforts, while providing the museum with a series of venues to promote one of Sarasota County’s



most treasured historic attractions. Libraries also partnered with the Asolo Repertory Theatre through a performance called Faces of Change, based on true stories submitted by local residents. The stories were shaped into a play by an Asolo Theatre playwright and performed at the Asolo and the North Sarasota Library. Since 2003, Sarasota County Libraries have collaborated with partnering organizations to present the One Book/One Community program to bring people together to read and discuss the same book. The book chosen for 2013 was “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand. Events in the community to accompany the book’s World War II theme included presentations and discussions at New College and the Historic Asolo Theatre, a conversation with student historians at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, and Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension presentations. “Public libraries are really invested in community engagement. One Book is an example of how public libraries provide ways for people to talk together and share ideas about topics of common interest that relate to their community,” said Kalajian.

Preserving Sarasota’s past for future generations In 2013, Historical Resources merged with the Sarasota County Library System to create a unified department called Libraries and Historical Resources. Historical Resources maintains the historical archives and displays at the Sarasota County History Center Museum at the historic Chidsey Library building, and works with the Historical Commission in the production and placement of markers on historically significant properties. Additionally, staff participates in the review of proposed private development projects throughout the county to evaluate their potential impact on culturally significant resources, and provides staff assistance to the county historic preservation board and Friends of the Sarasota County History Center. As with every department in the county, it is also involved in many other projects that engage citizens by partnering with other departments and organizations. In the past year, the department partnered with Sarasota County Natural Environmental Services on the New College Oral History Project, and also provided presentations on local historic and archaeological resources to

anthropology students at the college. Historical Resources also collaborated with Ringling College of Art and Design on a digital imaging project about Sarasota Tourism and Agriculture, and with John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art for docent training. Another partnership was with the city of Sarasota on its Walk Through Time exhibit in City Hall Chambers. With support from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Historical Resources continued development in 2013 of a moving image collection that contains vintage footage from around the state dating back to the 1940s. In addition, approximately 7,000 pages of Sarasota’s first newspaper, Sarasota Times, were digitized by the department in the past year. The public will be able to have full pages or excerpts of the newspaper emailed to them. An exhibit featuring the people, events and architecture that shaped the Sarasota Public School Program from 1954 to 1960 was made available March 2013 at the Sarasota County Visitor Information Center and History Center Museum. Sponsored by the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center, the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation and the University of Florida Historic Preservation Program, the exhibit will continue through April 2014. In 2013, Sarasota County also participated in statewide celebration of Viva Florida 500, commemorating the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León's arrival on Florida's east coast. The county coordinated Viva Florida activities with numerous community partners, historical and educational agencies, and representatives from Venice, North Port, Sarasota, Osprey, Nokomis, Englewood and Longboat Key. More than 100 programs related to Florida and Sarasota County history were presented throughout the year, along with exhibits featuring local history and archaeological treasures.

Court Fund for Capital Outlay. Both Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota were recognized in 2013 with a national award for their efforts in revitalizing the Newtown neighborhood, a community development project that has spanned several years. Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota made more than $60 million in improvements in Newtown, using funds that included a $23-million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sarasota County is currently working with the Pinecraft community as part of a community planning project to help preserve the way of life of the Amish and Mennonites who live and vacation there. Several years ago, the Pinecraft community requested that the county do a land-use plan for the area, and brought in graduate students with a Mennonite background from Goshen University in Indiana to do an assessment to preserve some ways that are important to their culture. As the plan progresses, Sarasota County Planning and Development will continue to work with them in helping to create an overlay zone district that will have some allowances for their lifestyle.

Revitalizing and preserving culture in communities To help preserve Sarasota County government’s history, the tile roof of the Historic Courthouse at 2000 Main St. was replaced in 2013. In 1926, the Historic Courthouse was described as “the most outstanding emblem of Sarasota County's prosperity.” The courthouse, which currently houses operations for the Clerk of the Circuit Court, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The roof was nearly 50 years old and was leaking in several areas. The $1.06 million project was funded in part by the

The 50-year old roof of the Historic Courthouse on Main Street in Sarasota was replaced in 2013 to preserve Sarasota County's history.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report


COMMUNITY PRESERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT local food system development in Sarasota County parks. Last year, the program celebrated two new gardens at Bee Ridge Park and Culverhouse Nature Park, and a new community orchard at Colonial Oaks Park. In a collaborative effort between Sarasota County Natural Resources and UF/IFAS Extension, monthly workshops are held to educate the public on water conservation through the use of rain barrels. The rain barrel program was established to help achieve water quality and conservation goals by providing economical, readily available equipment. The use of rainwater for landscaping activities reduces the demand on our potable water resources. The program continues to remain popular in the community. Sarasota County collaborated with the city of Sarasota through a federal grant program to build the mixed-use development Janie's Garden Market, as a part of a $60-million Newtown neighborhood revitalization.

Extension program helps out the land and its residents Through a variety of services that enhance the community and assist citizens, Sarasota County’s University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Department provides education, technical assistance and volunteer programs related to agriculture, lawn and garden, sustainability, natural resources, and family, youth and community development. Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension also initiated five new 4-H clubs in the past year and piloted a salsa garden program at Toledo Blade Elementary, Lamarque Elementary and NewGate Montessori with assistance from Sarasota County Master Gardeners and 4-H. Also new in 2013, Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension launched the Sustainable Floridians program, modeled after the Florida Master Gardener program, to develop citizen volunteers into local sustainability champions. Another new program to come out of the department this past year is called the Florida Master Money Mentors, which provides training to volunteer financial mentors. In 2014, the Extension will grow the program by partnering with Senior Friendship Centers and Sarasota Family Promise to recruit, train and place mentors with families recovering from homelessness. Extension and 4-H host Family Fun Nights on a regular basis for the residents of the Salvation Army’s Families in Transitional Housing (FAITH). In July 2013, Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension created the Community Garden Program to support community gardens and



Preserving Sarasota County’s natural beauty Sarasota County Natural Resources works to ensure a legacy of quality natural resources and experiences for all inhabitants of Sarasota County through protection and management of natural systems and consulting on community growth. This versatile group manages more than 50,000 acres of conservation land, ensures safe navigation of our waterways and also works very closely with other departments on natural area management and wildlife issues throughout the county. In partnership with Public Works and Planning and Development, it consults on county projects and private development review to ensure they are planned and executed in a way that is consistent with environmental protection policies and are sensitive to the way natural systems function, also helping create a “sense of place” in our community. As part of its Environmentally Sensitive

In 2013, Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension piloted a salsa garden program at Toledo Blade Elementary, Lamarque Elementary and NewGate Montessori, with assistance from Sarasota County Master Gardeners and 4-H.

Lands Protection Program, Natural Resources sought public suggestions for the naming of a natural land parcel adjacent to Oscar Scherer State Park, known as Oscar Scherer Buffer. The county acquired the 303-acre parcel in 1991, and Sarasota County Natural Resources has provided land management since that time. Approximately 16 acres were used for the construction of the Honore Avenue connection to State Road 681 in 2011, resulting in 287 acres in the preserve. Site habitats include flatwoods, wetlands, mesic hammock and a pond created from a former borrow pit. This natural area provides nesting and foraging for bald eagles, swallow-tailed kites, sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer, bobcats, otters and wading birds. Native plants include goldenrod, black-eyed Susan and Coreopsis, Florida's State Wildflower. In December, the county commission adopted the name “Scherer Thaxton Preserve” for the site in recognition of two individuals, Jon Thaxton and Elsa Scherer, who contributed to protection of environmental resources in the area and the legacy provided to our community through their actions. The Scherer Thaxton Preserve is expected to be open to the public in 2014. “Protecting and managing open spaces and quality natural systems preserves these resources for the future and provides people with the opportunity to get away from it all, decompress and enjoy themselves. “ said Amy Meese, director of Natural Resources. “Those open spaces are critical to the quality of our environment and the quality of our soul. They nourish and sustain us in many ways.”

COMMUNITY SERVICES BY THE NUMBERS: 25 miles of paved trails in Sarasota County. 35 miles of beach shoreline maintained by Sarasota County.


40 current Parks and Recreation capital projects.

42 playgrounds in Sarasota County. 52 tons of artificial reef materials deployed in 2013.

113 athletic fields in Sarasota County. 130 nature walks provided on preserve lands.

136 public classes and workshops taught by UF/IFAS Extension.

2,458 participants in the Libraries Summer Reading Program.

3,615 summer camp participants. 4,500 acres of parkland. 4,558 youth participants in 4-H clubs or school enrichment programs.

7,807 email inquiries answered by Libraries’ Info Central.

12,777 hours of volunteer service by Extension Master Gardeners.

15,207 new library cards issued in 2013.

25,761 early voters at public libraries. 46,929 phone inquiries answered by Libraries’ Info Central.

66,806 eBook borrowing in 2013, compared to 28,392 in 2012.

88,000 students and clients enrolled in Family Nutrition Programs in eight months.


gallons of water conserved through education and outreach efforts.

Florida Recreation and Parks Association’s Corporate Sponsor Award — Sarasota Parks and Recreation with Benderson Development Company 2013 Arts Leadership in Government Award from the Arts and Cultural Alliance — Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of Sarasota County Library System and Historical Resources Best Newsletter by the Florida Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals — UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County City-County Communications and Marketing Association’s 2013 Award of Excellence SAVVY Award (events category) — Sarasota County Library System Audry Nelson Community Development Achievement Award by the National Community Development Association — Sarasota County and City of Sarasota

2013 2013Sarasota Sarasota County County Annual AnnualReport Report 25 25


Growing responsibly Sarasota County’s award-winning development led the way to positive growth


arasota County received international recognition in 2013 for the collaborative planning and development efforts of many county departments. Internal and external processes to land use and development were improved to better serve citizens, and there was a significant increase in the number of building permits issued compared to 2012, showing signs of an improving economy. Meanwhile, major multiyear planning and development initiatives launched in 2013 will progress into 2014 and beyond.

Nathan Benderson Park put county on the world map

Florida high school women’s rowing teams compete at Nathan Benderson Park, future host of the 2017 World Rowing Championships.



In 2013, Sarasota County earned numerous awards for Nathan Benderson Park (NBP), one of the county’s largest projects in the works. Sarasota County’s efforts to attract a world-class sporting event for the new venue also paid off when the International Federation of Rowing Association (FISA) announced that NBP will host the 2017 World Rowing Championships. The international competition of some 1,000 Olympic-caliber athletes from 70 countries will be broadcast to a worldwide television audience of 130 million people, and an estimated 40,000 spectators are expected to attend the event. This is the first time in more than 20 years that the World Rowing Championships will be held in the United States. The Nathan Benderson Park project earned Planning and Development two national awards and one state award. Additionally, Parks and Recreation, Transportation and Economic Development have each won awards for their roles in the project. The park is being constructed with $29.5 million in improvements that are funded through a number of public and private partnerships, tourist development tax dollars, and the state of Florida.

The rowing facility will also contribute to the region’s economic development because of its proximity to University Town Center (UTC). The new development project is approved for nearly 1.7 million square feet of retail and hotel space, and 1,750 multifamily residential units. “This construction activity has certainly created a synergy in Sarasota County that can’t be rivaled anywhere else in the country right now,” said Tom Polk, director of Planning and Development Services. The University Town Center mall project is scheduled to be completed in October 2014.

Development spawns growth to the north The rowing facility and mall development have paved the way for future growth at the University Parkway and Cattlemen Road area of Sarasota, leading to planning projects across many county departments, including the Sarasota County Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Office, SCAT and Transportation. “The rowing facility that’s now coming up near University Parkway and the mall is going to create an employment and economic development area,” said Glama Carter, director of Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT). “We are planning new bus stops and will go to the

county commission in March 2014 to request the establishment of the University route. If approved, it will run east to west from the airport to the Lakewood Ranch area and serve all of the rowing facility and the mall.” In addition to a new bus route along University Parkway, there may soon be a new SCAT transfer station in the vicinity of NBP and University Town Center constructed in partnership with Benderson Development Co. “Advanced Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology is planned to be installed at this proposed facility in order to facilitate and enhance the customer’s experience,” said Carter. To provide a means to travel to NBP and the University Town Center, the Cattlemen Road Extension Project was completed in 2013. This project provided an approximately 2.75-milelong extension from Richardson to DeSoto roads with a new north-south alternative to I-75 from University Parkway to Fruitville Road, and includes the construction of four 12-foot-wide travel lanes and 4-foot-wide bicycle lanes, as well as a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along the entire west side of the roadway. The road improvements were funded by a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant, a developer contribution, a county utility revenue bond and utility rates.

Located at I-75 and University Parkway in Sarasota, the Mall at University Town Center is scheduled to be completed by October 2014.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report


GROWTH PLANNING In conjunction with development activities in the area, the Sarasota County Fire Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office anticipate a new joint facility being built in the area along Desoto Road by the year 2015, with construction beginning in 2014. The new facility, Station 17, will include a horse barn for mounted patrol. It will replace a temporary, partial-service fire station provided by Benderson Development during construction of Nathan Benderson Park and the University Town Center.

Multi-year projects gain momentum The Fruitville Initiative, an ongoing development plan for undeveloped land located east of I-75 and Fruitville Road, which was adopted as Special Planning Area 3 in the county’s Comprehensive Plan in 2010, gained momentum again in 2013. The county and five other owners of tracts of land that collectively encompass more than 320 acres, are working together to form a cohesive plan for development of their properties. The vision for the development is a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use community of architecturally compatible homes, industries, offices and stores amid public parks and tree-lined streets. In November 2013, the county commission approved the Critical Area Plan boundary and the scope of work to formally begin developing the plan for this area, and to move forward with a request for rezoning to be in review by spring of 2014. “This public-private partnership is more than just a partnership between six property owners,” said Beth Rozansky, Planning and Development’s impact fee administrator. “It is a coordinated development plan building off of the framework adopted into

the public of land-use decisions and we’re always open to gaining perspectives from workshops that we the community conversation.

Tom Polk Director of Planning and Development



the Comprehensive Plan back in 2010, which was the result of many stakeholders who came together to express their preferred outcome for this unique area of vacant land.” The county’s long-term development plan received additional review in 2013. The Sarasota 2050 component of the Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2002 and covered a 50-year timeframe. In 2013, Planning and Development’s work toward the plan included reviewing existing regulations, which were set approximately 10 years ago, to identify opportunities to revise them through proposed amendments to the zoning code, the comprehensive plan or both. The 2050 Plan was intended to allow additional development outside the county’s Urban Service Boundary, generally east of Interstate 75, based on a framework that applied substantial environmental and open-space conservation strategies. The goal is to preserve the county’s natural, cultural and physical resources and to make all neighborhoods more livable.

New tool improves citizens’ experience

We make extensive efforts to notify

conduct. We’re certainly always in

In 2013, Sarasota County sought input from property owners, neighbors and other stakeholders in the planning of the Fruitville Initiative, an ongoing development plan for undeveloped land located east of I-75 and Fruitville Road.

In an effort to improve services and meet the needs of citizens, Sarasota County Planning and Development restructured the permitting process in 2013. Local contractors are able to save time and money by applying for building permits through an online system at “A recent update of our online permitting makes it easier for our customers to access and use, allowing for much more commerce traffic to be done electronically than before,” said Tom Polk, director of Planning and Development. “We want to be a resource to the community— providing information that can sometimes be very complicated—to help explain the process, and try to assist the customers as much as possible.”

Planning and Development by the numbers 97 percent of inspections conducted in 2013 were completed on time (next day).


residential certificates of occupancy were issued in fiscal year 2013, as compared to 603 in FY12.

1,666 email inquiries were received by Zoning in 2013.

2,177 telephone inquiries were received by Zoning in the past year.

6,300 code cases were investigated in fiscal year 2013.

7,375 plans were reviewed by Zoning during the same period.


illegal signs were removed from rights-of-way in 2013.

AWARDS 2013 Florida Chapter of American Planning Association (FAPA) Award of Excellence in the Planning Project category — Sarasota County Planning and Development Services Co-winner of the 2013 APA's prestigious Hunter Award for Excellence in Economic Development — Sarasota County Planning and Development Services

inspections were completed in fiscal year 2013, as compared to 59,569 in FY12.

2013 Award of Merit from the APA County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners — Sarasota County Planning and Development Services

Before the county purchased the property in the 1990s, Nathan Benderson Park was an active shell excavation pit for road construction fill. Aside from the world-class rowing venue, today the park provides access to several lakes for boating, fishing, bird-watching and other recreational activities.

Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council — Sarasota County Economic Development

24,874 permits were issued in fiscal year 2013, as compared to 22,052 in FY12.


Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award by the National Community Development Association for the Newtown Revitalization project — Sarasota County and the city of Sarasota Best in Construction award in the Local Agency Program category from the Florida Transportation Builders Association Inc. — Sarasota County Transportation Corporate Sponsor Award through the Florida Recreation and Parks Association — Parks and Recreation with Benderson Development Company

2013 Sarasota Sarasota County County Annual Annual Report Report 29 2013


Keeping the county moving Whether by car, bus, bike or feet, the county provided new and improved ways to travel in 2013


SCAT partnered with Sarasota Memorial in 2013 to build a bus-stop shelter that matches the contemporary design of the hospital.

rom River Road in the south to University Parkway up north, Sarasota County saw improved mobility in 2013, thanks to numerous road improvement projects and expanded Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) service. In addition to resurfacing roads and adding new bus routes, many other projects were completed in the past year, including the muchanticipated extension of Cattlemen Road to University Parkway and the installation of 51 new SCAT bus shelters. Other initiatives in 2013 included the county’s comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

also have wireless network access on SCAT’s eight Express buses, serving Express routes 100X North Port-Sarasota and 90X North Port-VeniceSarasota. Also in March, Sarasota County, in collaboration with the City of North Port and with grant funding through the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), completed a new SCAT Commuter Park and Ride adjacent to the North Port City Hall. The commuter facility provides 53 parking spaces, covered seating areas, and many sustainable “green” features. In addition, in September, five new Venice bus stops were added, a project that included new shelters, benches, bicycle racks, sidewalk reconstruction, and site re-grading and drainage improvements. The most anticipated upcoming SCAT route planned for 2014 is a new Siesta Key trolley route.

SCAT bus service goes the extra mile

On the right track for saving the environment

“Public transit is all about people: moving people, transporting people in a safe, reliable manner. Without people, there is no need for transit,” said Glama Carter, director of SCAT. To better serve people in South County, SCAT debuted its second Express bus route in 2013. The new Route 90X (North Port-Venice-Sarasota Express) offers weekday service with two stops on the island of Venice. As of March 2013, SCAT riders

With a sidewalk through a meandering right-of-way, we’re creating environments that allow a more active community.

James Harriott County Engineer



Citizen enjoyment and environmental protection are top priorities in transportation at Sarasota County. SCAT currently uses hybrid buses, which will switch to clean diesel in accordance with a new bus-replacement plan, starting with 18 clean diesel buses in the summer of 2014. “We were able to stay green and at the same time, reduce the cost of the buses from the hybrid to a diesel by 50 percent,” said Carter. “SCAT's policy to limit idling time is both a cost-saving and pollution reduction initiative.” Public transportation in general helps by promoting multi-modal transportation: riding, walking and bicycling. To further encourage bicycling, Sarasota County developed a new countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which was approved by the county commissioners in October 2013. The plan outlines a safe, convenient and efficient bicycle and pedestrian system that provides access to major destinations within Sarasota County and surrounding counties.

Sarasota County's renovation of the intersection of US41 and River Road in Venice was completed in December 2013.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



In the next five years, 40 percent of SCAT's buses will need to be replaced. Starting in 2014, SCAT will replace hybrid buses with clean diesel.

Maintaining and expanding road infrastructure Road improvements in Sarasota County in 2013 included a much needed and anticipated extension of North Cattlemen Road, completed in May. This project provided an approximately 2.75-mile-long extension with a new north-south alternative to I-75 from University Parkway to Fruitville Road. It also provides improved access to Nathan Benderson Park and its new worldclass recreational rowing facility. Across the county, many road resurfacing projects got underway in 2013, including a 5.3mile section of River Road from just south of the intersection of U.S. 41 to Pine Street. Many roads were also resurfaced in the Plantation and Venice communities. The project involved milling and resurfacing, along with restoration of approximately 16.5 miles of roads, including: Rockley Boulevard, Wexford Boulevard, Woodbridge Drive, Gulf Coast Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue, Pineland Avenue, 2nd Street, Groveland Avenue and 1st Street. Helping to ensure smooth and safe travel in Sarasota County involves more than keeping motorized vehicles on the move; helping bicyclists and pedestrians navigate safely is also important.



Keeping traffic flowing In 2013 Sarasota County also implemented the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS),

Sarasota County's new Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan outlines a safe system for citizens to walk or pedal.

SCAT BY THE NUMBERS 10 SCAT buses operate on Sunday. 25 small “SCAT Plus” buses provide door-to-door service daily. 26 vendor-owned vehicles provide daily door-to-door service for SCAT.

31 SCAT routes, two of which are express routes. 46 buses travel on traditional SCAT routes each day (Monday-Saturday). a countywide grid of conduit and/or fiber optic cable for communicating with the traffic-signal system, traffic-monitoring cameras and a new system that allows traffic-light pre-emption for emergency vehicles. The system covers approximately 180 traffic signals across the county and interconnects with the Regional Traffic Management Center in Manatee County.

170,000 passengers rode para-transit buses in FY2013. 2.8 million passengers rode SCAT in FY2013. That’s more than the entire population of Chicago!

4.1 million

revenue miles were traveled by SCAT buses and para-transit vehicles in 2013.

A fresh look at the right-of-way The county’s approach to roadways involves much planning to ensure the least impact to the environment. “Many of our new road projects take a special look at water and how we can maintain or eliminate the nutrient loads that occur with run-off,” said Jim Harriott, county engineer. “We’ve gone beyond designs that are just pond-enhanced to ones that include roadside water-treatment facilities. The quality of the water is improved before it gets into the rivers, streams and bays.” When planning roads and transportation, Sarasota County has shifted its focus from traditional roadway design to designs that are citizen-friendly and promote outdoor activity. “Over the past 10 years we’ve started planning and designing roads differently to create more of a community asset or a place for the community to go as opposed to just a roadway that moves traffic,” said Harriott. This new approach can sometimes mean not constructing four lanes of blacktop as originally planned, but instead completing two lanes and using the remaining right-of-way for community amenities, such as sidewalks, plantings and trees, and bicycle paths. “We’re planning a network of bicycle pedestrian ways that allow people to get out and move around. We’re creating environments, like on Honore or Cattlemen, where we’re building those into the roadways, which allow a more active community,” said Harriott. “It doesn’t have to be just a road; it can be more than that,” he said.

AWARDS Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence — SCAT Mechanic of the Year from the Florida Public Transportation Association — Tom Clayton of SCAT Florida Local Agency Program (LAP) Project of the Year Award from the Florida Transportation Builders Association — North Cattlemen Road extension project American Public Works Association’s Florida Division Project of the Year Award — Honore Road between Bee Ridge and Fruitville

Tom Clayton, heavy truck/equipment technician with SCAT, was named 2013 Mechanic of the Year by the Florida Transportation Association.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Protecting our environment Sarasota County took measures in 2013 to ensure a healthy ecosystem and conserve resources


ne of Sarasota County’s main areas of focus is the protection and conservation of our natural resources. The county strives to maintain good air quality, clean water and diverse habitats while providing appropriate public access. The county also monitors and promotes energy conservation. Countywide, departments work toward replenishing resources we use or consume. “We ensure a legacy of environmental quality for all inhabitants of Sarasota County for today, for tomorrow and for the future,” said Amy Meese, director of Natural Resources.

Volunteers keep Sarasota County beautiful

A father-daughter volunteer team, Jarda and Alexi help keep the beaches clean at Nokomis Beach as part of the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup organized by Keep Sarasota County Beautiful.



Sarasota County is known for its beautiful beaches, parks and natural areas, but keeping all those destinations clean and looking their best requires effort. Keep Sarasota County Beautiful (KSCB), with the Solid Waste division of Public Utilities Department, held the Great American Cleanup in April 2013. More than 680 volunteers picked up 6,371 pounds of trash, recyclables and other refuse at locations across the county. All together, volunteers donated more than 1,500 hours to the cleanup effort. Another volunteer program working toward a healthy environment is Public Utilities’ Seagrass Volunteer Monitoring Program. In the past year, 21 new people were trained

to assist in assessing the health of seagrasses in Sarasota County bays. Seagrass is the most important habitat in the bays and is adopted in state rule as an indicator of estuarine health. Seagrass acreage is increasing locally, while around the world it is in decline. “Seagrass is a really good indicator of water quality. We work with a lot of volunteers, as well as the Sarasota Bay and Estuary program,” said David Cash, interim director of Public Utilities.

Citizens’ health is top reason to be concerned about air and water quality As a delegated authority of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health (DOH)-Sarasota provides oversight of all public water systems in the county to ensure safe drinking water. Recreational water testing is performed weekly at 16 public beaches to monitor water quality for bacteria and red tide. DOH-Sarasota also conducts nearly 10,000 environmental health inspections every year to protect and promote public health and safety at locations such as public beaches, swimming pools, group care facilities, schools, private and public water systems, wastewater systems and medical facilities. “It’s very important for the economy of our community that our beaches remain open, so we work collaboratively with the Health Department” said Carolyn Brown, director of Parks and Recreation. “They do beach, water testing and sampling. The Healthy Beaches designation program provides guidelines that we follow to keep our beaches healthy and our waterways clean.” Air quality is monitored by the Natural Resources Department through the Air and Water Quality division, as part of its focus on public health and pollution prevention and remediation. “On the news at night when you see the Air Quality Index, that’s us,” said Meese. “We help

sensitive populations know when they should limit their outdoor activity due to the ozone or air quality issues. People who are asthmatic, have emphysema or may have other breathing challenges need to be aware when those environmental conditions are present.�

County protects the beaches and their inhabitants In addition to fine white sand and beautiful blue-green water, Sarasota County beaches also boast the highest density of sea turtle nesting on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Our beaches serve as an important nesting habitat for both the threatened loggerhead and the endangered green sea turtle. Local sea turtle nesting and hatching data are collected and reported each year to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This is a combined effort of volunteers and staff with Sarasota County Natural Resources, Mote Marine Laboratory and Coastal Wildlife Club, Inc. In 2013, there were 4,146 loggerhead sea turtle nests and 88 green sea turtle nests reported.

Sarasota County hosts the highest density of loggerhead sea turtle nests in the Gulf with 4,146 nests reported in 2013. The county is dedicated to protecting these endangered species.

Sarasota County actively promotes sea turtle conservation and community awareness. A variety of educational resources is available to homeowners and associations, schools, libraries and civic associations. The Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan requires that special measures are taken to protect sea turtles and their habitat. In 1997, the Sarasota County Marine Turtle Protection Code was adopted to safeguard nesting females and hatchling sea turtles from the adverse effects of artificial light, and to further protect them from injury or harassment. In 2004, the Code was amended to require the nightly removal (during nesting season) of beach furniture, tents, cabanas and other temporary structures that pose an entanglement hazard or obstacle to nesting or hatching sea turtles.


Kathryn Meaux, environmental specialist for Sarasota County, measures water clarity while conducting water quality sampling in the Gulf of Mexico.

We continuously get community feedback that indicates our citizens love the natural qualities of Sarasota.


Amy Meese Director, Natural Resources

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report


WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES Water and sewage services provide protection to citizens Public Utilities protects the health, safety and welfare of the community through providing safe drinking water, responsibly removing and treating waste water, preventing structure flooding in homes, removing garbage, and responsibly managing our waste stream. In 2013, The Sarasota County Commission awarded construction contracts totaling $5.9 million for improvements to Beach Road drainage and Hudson Bayou water quality. Beach Road drainage improvements were designed to protect public health and safety by meeting recreational water quality standards at Siesta Beach. The project calls for construction of an improved stormwater treatment system, including a new, relocated wet detention pond of approximately 1 acre, an ultraviolet-light treatment unit, a stormwater pumping station, and a pipe carrying stormwater discharge about 2,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. The 190day project was completed in November 2013. Located in northwest Sarasota County and the city of Sarasota, Hudson Bayou Basin covers 10.9 square miles of primarily residential and commercial properties. The main goal of the water quality The Siesta Key to Casey Key water main project is to treat stormwater interconnect project replaced a leaking runoff from urban areas, water main, improved water reliability, which currently receive little and increased fire flow availability. to no treatment, and to reduce This $1.1-million project won a 2013 the amount of nutrients and American Public Works Association sediment entering Sarasota Project of the Year Award. Bay. Started in 2013, the project should be completed in early 2014. The Beach Road drainage improvements were funded by a Southwest Florida Water Management District grant; and the Hudson Bayou water quality improvements by a Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) grant. The infrastructure surtax (1-cent sales tax) provides funding for both projects as well. The Snook Haven Park utility improvement project also got underway in 2013. Historically known as a fish camp, Snook Haven was acquired by the county in 2006 and is popular for shoreline



fishing and kayak and canoe rentals. This 2.5-acre park on the Myakka River has been served by an undersized septic system and potable water from a well with a reverse-osmosis treatment system. Improvements will include a new central water and sewer system. The nearly $1.076 million project is expected to be completed in early 2014. Another upcoming restoration project is at Red Bug Slough in central Sarasota County. Red Bug Slough, a 72-acre preserve, was purchased in 2001 through the Sarasota County Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program with funding assistance from the Florida Communities Trust. The $464,553 construction project involves three sites within the slough and includes removal of exotic vegetation and planting of native species, restoring or enhancing the hydrology of the historical marsh system, re-contouring the banks of the slough and the shoreline of a stormwater canal, and adding a littoral shelf.

Aqua acquisition results in lower costs to citizens In the past fiscal year, Sarasota County began the process of acquiring Aqua America, a local privately owned utility within unincorporated Sarasota County. This acquisition is a huge step toward completing the county’s utility consolidation plan that was begun in the early 1990s. All of the assets, the treatment facility and distribution pipes will become county government-owned. “There are a number of things we do as a county government to ensure infrastructure is managed properly, rehabilitation needs are met, and funding is available to be able to maintain the system from a longer term perspective than a smaller private utility,” said Cash. “The current Aqua customers will enjoy lower utility rates as a result of this acquisition.”

Improvements made to county's backflow-prevention program Per state rule, every public utility/water provider has to have a backflow prevention program to protect cross-contamination of the water system. The providers’ customers are required to have back-flow preventers installed that must be tested on a regular basis. “In order to stay in compliance and make it easier for customers, the county proactively created a program that provided the testing if people decided to use the county’s service,” said Cash. Sarasota County Public Utilities is in the process of buying a software application specifically designed to help Utilities manage

backflow-prevention programs. In 2013, there were issues with data management that resulted in mistakes in the billing process. “We spent a lot of time this year correcting that; and we are looking forward to making improvements to the program,� said Cash. The new billing software, called Tokay, will be implemented in the spring 2014 to help manage the backflow-prevention program more effectively.

Renewing failing infrastructure in neighborhoods The Public Utilities Department regularly hosts public meetings on neighborhood project issues. In 2013, the department met with residents eligible for the Phillippi Creek Septic System Replacement Program, an effort started more than 10 years ago to replace aging and failing septic systems with central sewer. Approximately 15,000 residents were identified as eligible, and Public Utilities has provided sewer to more than 7,000 to date. This past year, Public Utilities initiated 14 renewal and replacement projects for the stormwater system. This includes relining or replacing old pipes in a neighborhood with failing infrastructure. Public Utilities initiated the new projects to assess condition; Capital Projects will manage the contracts to rehabilitate the system.

Recognizing environmentally responsible businesses One of many programs Sarasota County has implemented to promote sustainability and conservation in our community is The Green Business Partnership (GBP). Certified Green Business Partners make an extra effort to operate in an environmentally responsible manner by implementing verified core and elective GBP program standards in waste, energy and water reduction measures, while increasing recycling and conservation practices. In addition to being recognized locally, Green Business Partners Global Organic Specialty Source, Children's World Uniform Supply and Tervis were recognized by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for their exceptional recycling programs in 2013. To date, 195 local businesses have earned certification.

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/ IFAS) Extension department. Rain barrels reduce stormwater runoff and conserve water by collecting rainwater that can be used for plants and gardens. The donated barrels are wrapped with a banner featuring the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping: Right Plant, Right Place; Water Efficiently; Fertilize Appropriately; Mulch; Attract Wildlife; Manage Yard Pests Responsibly; Recycle; Reduce Stormwater Runoff; and Protect the Waterfront. The wrapped barrels provide educational schoolyard demonstrations that help schools conserve resources. Elementary schools that received barrels are Alta Vista, Brentwood, Emma E. Booker, Gocio, Southside, Garden, Glenallen and Taylor Ranch. Middle schools are McIntosh and Oak Park South. High schools include Riverview, Suncoast Polytechnical, Pine View and Venice. UF/IFAS Extension also offers monthly rain barrel workshops where residents can learn how rain barrels conserve water, save money and reduce stormwater runoff. Natural Resources also participates in the EdExplorer program and teaches public-school classroom sessions about environmental topics such as erosion. It also sponsors the Little Naturalist program for pre-school and schoolaged children to acquaint them with the natural resources of our community while enjoying our public lands.

Through the Green Business Partnership, Sarasota County promotes sustainability by acknowledging businesses that make an extra effort to be environmentally responsible.

Rain barrels donated by Redi-2-DrinQ were distributed to schools by Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension in 2013 to help teach students about water conservation.

Children learn conservation techniques In 2013, Redi-2-DrinQ Group, a beverage distribution company, donated 50 rain barrels to the Sarasota County University of Florida's 2013 Sarasota County Annual Report


WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES Sustainability teaches citizens how to “do it yourself” Sarasota County Sustainability works with local residents and businesses to increase environmental, economic and social sustainability in our community. In 2013, Sustainability directly reached nearly 1,600 residents through community events, workshops and presentations on topics ranging from energy and water savings opportunities to strategies to improve operational sustainability and profitability of local businesses.

Shaffer, 2, enjoys playing with his mother, Carolyn Wooden, in the clean bay water at Turtle Beach thanks in part to the county's dedication to environmental health.

Through its Energy Upgrade workshops, Sustainability distributed Do It Yourself Energy Saving Kits to more than 150 households. Once installed, the items in the kits will help those households achieve a total savings of more than $25,000 per year and nearly 230,000 kilowatthours of electricity. The workshops are available to homeowners associations, faith-based organizations and other groups that would like to help their members save money and increase comfort in their homes. Working with Libraries, Sustainability also created a program to offer Family Sustainability Kits that include a set of materials for children. The kits include books, CDs and flashcards that can be used and returned to the library, as well as a free bag of energy and water-saving materials and educational games families can keep and use in their homes. The department also partnered with the Sarasota County School District to provide science teachers at eight middle schools with an Energy Conservation Education Kit.



The kits include a lab activity where students compare three types of light bulbs and compare energy use, costs and pollution levels as well as return on investment. The department also provides curriculum suggestions, an Energy Bingo game and other materials to support teaching science and mathematics. In partnership with Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence (SCOPE), Sustainability redesigned the Sarasota County Green Map® in the past year using a new platform that allows citizens to upload photos, documents and videos to enhance the information found on the map. The Sarasota County Green Map® is part of a global Green Map movement, developed to encourage environmental awareness and sustainability consciousness. The Sarasota County Green Map® showcases thousands of sustainability assets available in the county. It's a fun, easy way to find local green activities, organizations, companies and facilities by clicking on each area for detailed information. By highlighting “green” assets throughout the community, Sarasota County and its partners hope this interactive mapping tool will raise awareness of sustainable living issues.

Balancing natural resources and community needs To better assess the sensitivity of public land and determine appropriate land usage, Sarasota County Natural Resources developed the Right Land Right Use program, based on the criteria for protecting the land defined by ordinances and the Land Management Master Plan, a commission-adopted document. It is a way of judging and assessing the continuum of sensitivity of public lands so that Natural Resources could quickly steer requests to the appropriate piece of land, as opposed to having to research each request as it comes into the department. “We’ve gotten TV shows to film on our land, requests for survival school, off-road vehicular access and agricultural farming. We want to identify where those uses might be compatible to the land area,” said Amy Meese, director of Natural Resources. “We also want to find ways we can leverage the land for a higher level of visitor experiences, but also potentially generate some revenue to help manage the lands longterm. We have a large inventory of public land, which is a resource for public benefit, and which we’re also charged with protecting.”


certified natural area managers are employed by the county.


state-certified prescribed burners oversee purposefully set fires to improve environmental conditions for plants and wildlife in the county.


Sarasota County schools with garden programs received rain barrels from UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County in 2013.


tons of artificial reef materials were deployed in 2013.


green sea turtle nests were protected in 2013.

130 nature walks were coordinated on preserves.


Sustainability Kits were distributed at workshops in 2013.


volunteers helped with the 2013 Great American Cleanup.


hours were donated to the cleanup effort.


AWARDS American Public Works Association (APWA) Project of the Year Awards — Honore Avenue improvement project and the Siesta Key to Casey Key water main interconnect project — Sarasota County Public Utilities Engineering award from The American Society of Civil Engineers — Casey Key Waterline Replacement Project — Sarasota County Public Utilities Environmental Excellence Award in the Conservation category from the National Association of Environmental Professionals; Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility Phase 3 — Sarasota County Public Utilities The 2013 North America Hazardous Materials Management Association Longstanding Program Excellence Award — Sarasota County Public Utilities

citizens attended sustainability



loggerhead sea turtle nests were protected in 2013.


pounds of trash, recyclables and other refuse were gathered at the Great American Cleanup.


tree plantings/permits were awarded.


customers receive sewer services from Sarasota County.


customers receive water services from Sarasota County.


customers get their trash picked up each week by Sarasota County.

Sustainable Florida Best Practice Awards Finalist in two categories: Government and Partnership — Sarasota County Sustainability The 2013 Domestic Wastewater Plant Operations Excellence Award for the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility — Sarasota County Public Utilities The 2013 Florida Water Pollution Control Operator’s Association Region 12 Outstanding Facility Award for the Venice Gardens Water Reclamation Facility — Sarasota County Public Utilities

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Strengthening the economy Economic diversity, greener business, and more jobs were focus in 2013


arasota County recognizes that in today's economy, diversification is critical to sustaining our quality of life. In 2013, the county sought to create a stronger and more diverse economy and a community based on economic and energy sustainability. The Office of Business and Economic Development (OBED) proactively worked to attract growing industries and jobs, and developed a new menu of competitive incentives for new and existing businesses in Sarasota County. “The Office of Business and Economic Development’s role is to effectively align people, finances and infrastructure to achieve the county’s economic development goals,” said Jeff Maultsby, director of Economic Development.

We are all economic developers. Everybody has a very important role to play in the economic well-being of our community. That role is vital to the sustainability of the quality of life and the quality of place that we enjoy in Sarasota County.

Jeff Maultsby Director of Economic Development



Supporting the business community in Sarasota County In 2013, as a result of the efforts of OBED and its collaborative partners, the Sarasota County Commission incentivized four companies that promised to create 140 new jobs in Sarasota County. Twenty of the new jobs have already been created, all within industries that are targeted due to the diversity and growth potential they bring. These industries include light manufacturing, life sciences, clean and green, film and entertainment, and sports and ecotourism. The estimated total economic impact of the new jobs is $48 million. Sarasota County’s OBED also reached out to more than 950 small businesses within the community in hopes of identifying and resolving regulatory and business operational impediments to small-business progress. “That’s our proactive approach to eliminating barriers to their economic success,” said Maultsby.

Sarasota County chosen to pilot energy program Florida’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) designated Sarasota County — only one of two counties chosen in the state — as a pilot community. The EEZ Pilot Program, known locally as the Sustainable Energy Economic District (SEED) Incentive Program, was created by the Florida Legislature to assist communities in the development of a model to cultivate green economic development. The program also encourages renewable electric energy generation and promotes the manufacturing of products that contribute to energy conservation and green jobs. “That designation is indicative of our uniqueness when it comes to sustainability, clean and green business growth, and development within our community,” said Maultsby.

Jeff Maultsby, director of Economic Development, takes a hands-on approach to assisting local businesses by personally visiting establishments across the county. He also attends business expos outside the region to promote Sarasota County as a great place to locate a business.

Sarasota County’s Sustainable Energy Economic District (SEED) includes all unincorporated areas west of the county’s Urban Service Boundary and the Central County Landfill on Knights Trail and I-75. In addition, the SEED boundaries include the Urban Service Areas of the cities of North Port, Venice and Sarasota. The expansive boundaries enable many businesses to apply for, and participate in, the SEED Incentive Program, and help facilitate access to a broader workforce.

AWARDS Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council — Office of Business and Economic Development

Working to put residents back to work At the direction of the county commissioners, OBED partnered with the nonprofit organization Suncoast Workforce Inc. to develop a plan to put unemployed and underemployed local workers back to work on county projects. The program encourages the awardees of contracts to hire adversely impacted workers. General contractors and/or subcontractors will aspire to hire a minimum 15 percent of local workers as new hires on county-awarded projects. “It is an aspirational goal for those contractors; there is nothing punitive in it.” said Maultsby. In 2013, OBED also supported a workforce development plan by recommending the county commission provide financial support for a precision-machining training program at the Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI). OBED collaborated with the Sarasota County School Board, Sarasota-Manatee Area Manufacturers Association (SAMA), the EDC, GSCC and CareerEdge to implement the program at SCTI as part of a larger workforce development plan.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT modest start-up capital from the public and philanthropic sectors. “It is a collaborative effort between Sarasota County and the EDC to develop an initiative that will establish business models to implement and integrate energy technologies and support an energy economy in Florida,” said Maultsby. To further promote green business practices, the Sarasota County Sustainability Department developed the Sustainable Business Guide, which guides local businesses through the steps to improve the sustainability of their operations, increasing profitability and customer loyalty while supporting their employees and community. In 2013, more than 500 copies were distributed to businesses through the local Chambers of Commerce and the Economic Development Corporation.

An average temperature of 73 degrees year-round provides residents and visitors ample opportunity to enjoy award-winning beaches and sports venues, two main economic drivers for Sarasota County.

Clean and green business supports energy economy Working toward the goal to support clean technology and green businesses, in 2013 Sarasota County retained the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Sarasota County to develop an implementation plan for a business development network, or Venture Development Organization (VDO). Addressing climate change and developing strategic energy practices, the VDO will result in a sustainable competitive business advantage for Sarasota County. Sarasota County employed Global Urban Development (GUD) to help develop a sustainable economic development strategy for our community. Over the course of several months, GUD conducted more than 60 interviews and four weeklong visits to Sarasota County. GUD’s primary recommendation was the design and implementation of a business development network (VDO) to create a robust business support infrastructure in Sarasota County. The network would leverage the existing advantages of quality of life and the environment, maximize the sustainable economic development potential of the Sarasota clean and green technology industry, and activate the untapped network of private-sector professionals to support entrepreneurs and new business entities. GUD said the network could be created with only



Planning and economic development go hand-in-hand In the past year, the Planning and Development Services Department and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff worked with OBED to research and compile demographic information. The project will assist business prospectors by offering a quick and easy way to access the information they need to make business decisions, as well as help staff gain a better understanding of the county’s strengths and weaknesses to increase our competitiveness. These departments have access to a wide range of population and socio-economic data, and analytical tools from multiple sources, including American Community Survey, ESRI Business Analyst and ESRI Community Analyst. Together, the departments sifted through the data to compile meaningful information about Sarasota County. This includes demographic profile reports on population growth, educational attainment levels and employment in Sarasota County. The departments are also working on redesigning the county’s demographics web page to provide an easy portal to information about Sarasota County. This will include an economic data category that will be updated continuously, and create an interactive online map of economic development topics. “We partner with Economic Development on a lot of different initiatives,” said Tom Polk, director of Planning and Development Services. “Planning and Development Services plays a key role in land development and economic opportunities, from the initiation of development to the final ribbon-cutting of a business.”

Recreation can be good for business Planning and Development Services and OBED each earned multiple awards in 2013 due to their collaborative efforts with Nathan Benderson Park. Chosen as the site of the 2017 World Rowing Championships and 2016 Pentathlon trials, this worldwide competitive rowing destination will be fully developed as a multipurpose aquatic venue by 2015. County planners worked with Benderson Development Co. officials to create a comprehensively designed project with a significantly larger scope for regional economic development. The Benderson Park rowing facility has unique economic-development aspects, since it was carried out in conjunction with planning and rezoning activities for the University Town Center mixed-use complex adjacent to the park

area. University Town Center will have almost 1.7 million square feet of retail, and hotel space, and 1,750 multifamily residential units. Nathan Benderson Park is the result of a partnership with Manatee County, the state of Florida, Benderson Development, the Sarasota County Tourist Development Council, Visit Sarasota County, and the nonprofit Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA). The park has already become a regional attraction with a significant impact on economic development and tourism for Sarasota and Manatee counties, and the greater southwest Florida region. “We provide places for events, athletic tournaments and activities that contribute to economic development of our community,” said Carolyn Brown, director of Parks and Recreation.

BY THE NUMBERS: 140 new jobs to be created within five years through OBED incentives.

500 Sustainable Business Guides distributed to local businesses.

950 small businesses visited by the Office of Business and Economic Development in 2013.

1,750 multifamily residential units at University Town Center.

2012 the year OBED became a formal department. 2,400 readership of OBED’s weekly business newsletter.

1.7 million

square feet of retail space in University Town Center.

$33 million economic impact of OBED in 2013. $48 million — estimated impact of 140 jobs The highly anticipated University Town Center will have almost 1.7 million square feet of retail, hotel space, and 1,750 multifamily residential units.

incentivized by the OBED.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



Keeping you safe and sound Protecting the health and safety of residents is Priority 1 for the county


arasota County residents can rest assured their county government is continuously working to protect their health, safety and well-being. In 2013, Health and Human Services and Emergency Services made great strides toward keeping Sarasota County safe and sound.

Clearing the way for emergency vehicles The Traffic Signal Preemption Program was a major project implemented in 2013. Approximately 212 intersections across the county were equipped with a radio receiver and programming in the traffic signal box, to communicate with ambulances and fire trucks. The vehicles have transmitters, so the signaling equipment can pick up their approach and turn the signals green. The project cost $2.1 million and was funded by the commission’s allotment from Surtax 3, the “extra penny sales tax.” “It improves our response time and it’s much, much safer; that was probably one of the most important things as far as being able to provide excellent service to citizens,” said Chief Mike Tobias of Emergency Services. In 2013, Emergency Management began installing collars on stop signs, labeled with a letter corresponding to the area's storm surge zone.


Preparing you for floods and storms Another new initiative on the roadway helps citizens know their storm surge zones. Reflective yellow collars were placed on posts just below municipal stop signs. Each collar has a letter that corresponds to the storm surge zone, so citizens know when to evacuate as a storm approaches. In 2013, the collars were installed in North Port and unincorporated areas of the county, and Emergency Management is working to install them in each municipality. Backing that up is


an online tool called “Know Your Zone” on the county website’s Emergency Services webpage. To further serve the community with upto-date information, Emergency Management launched its Facebook page in 2013. “During an activation, county staff will do real-time updates; they will post reports, maps and storm location,” said Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane. Any updates placed on the Facebook page will automatically post to Twitter. Emergency Management also launched a program called The First 72 Are on You at the beginning of the 2013 hurricane season. County employees presented this program in south Sarasota County, and afterward drove through the streets, handing out hurricane guides. “We are always available to provide public education, including seminars on disaster and hurricane preparedness, and to help a community develop a disaster plan for the neighborhood,” said McCrane. “We have done more than 60 disaster-preparedness presentations to different civic groups and neighborhood associations to encourage people to be more resilient and more self-sufficient during a disaster.”

Groundbreaking held for new EOC Emergency Services is currently located on the sixth floor of the county Administration Center building, which was built in 1973 — when hurricane-protection standards were lower — and is located only one-half mile from the bay and 15 feet above sea level. An engineering study conducted in 2007 indicated the administration building’s walls are designed to withstand sustained winds only up to 110 mph, which is a Category 2 hurricane. According to Chief McCrane, the only alternative location in times of activation is Wilkinson Elementary School.

Currently, with support and cooperation from the School Board of Sarasota County, Emergency Management must move its operations to the school during significant storms. Because of these factors, Emergency Services broke ground on a new home in December 2013. The new Emergency Operations Center (EOC), to be completed in 2015, will include 911 Public Safety Communications, Emergency Management, the Sarasota County Call Center, and space dedicated to the Sheriff’s Department and Fire Command in the event of activation. A 250-foot transmission tower for a new 800-megahertz radio system will allow Emergency Management to communicate with all fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies dispatched by the 911 Center in addition to state, adjacent county and local partners before, during and after a major disaster. The new EOC building will be located at 6050 Porter Way in Sarasota.

Emergency Management launched its Facebook page in 2013 to keep citizens updated on storm warnings and other timely and important information.

Preventing fires is best defense The Sarasota County Fire Department is actively involved in community outreach. Its prevention division frequently visits area schools to present the Learn Not to Burn program. Fire Department personnel also participate regularly in Civics 101 tours and presentations to educate the community. In 2013, the Fire Department received a $20,000 grant that provides for a fire extinguisher-training simulator and smoke detectors from the Firemen’s Fund Insurance Company and the National Trust Insurance Services (NTIS). To better serve the residents of Sarasota County, Emergency Services is currently

The Sarasota County Fire Department is often called to the scene of traffic accidents to prevent or extinguish vehicle fires and to rescue accident victims.

On Porter Way in Sarasota, the future EOC building will house Emergency Management, 911 Public Safety Communications and the Call Center with space reserved for the Sheriff's Department and Fire Command.

2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



researching a new type of software to help firefighters determine the cost of structural damage more accurately. The software will be implemented in 2014. “Our main focus for the department is serving the needs of the citizens. That’s what we hang our hat on,” said Chief Tobias. The Fire Department also looks forward to four new “green” fire stations in 2014: We have a great three renovations and a new Station 17 to serve the team that serves Nathan Benderson Park and University Town Mall area. the needs of “The four stations are going to be LEED-certified. I think citizens, not just in that’s going to be a major plus for water and power the traditional ways conservation and reducing the carbon footprint,” said of putting water Chief Tobias.

on fire, but in treating citizens as family members.

Preventing and treating illness while working toward a healthier community

The role of the Sarasota County Health and Human Mike Tobias, Services Department (SCHHS) Chief, Fire and Emergency Services is pivotal in preventing disease and disability and protecting the health of citizens and visitors. Core services include providing access to health care and children’s dental services, reducing the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, and facilitating policy changes to create an environment that supports a healthy community. In 2013, a new funding source allowed the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota, formerly known as the Sarasota Health Department), to expand healthcare to eligible children and adults through the establishment of a new family practice clinic at the existing Ringling Boulevard location. Behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) services were also added through a contract with Manatee Glens. In 2013, DOH-Sarasota received a donation from the Sarasota County Dental Association to help continue its mission of treating the underserved in the community. As a major provider of dental services to those with Medicaid, the program serves 80 to 100 clients daily, the majority of which are children. To increase efficiency, DOH-Sarasota



The Department of Health - Sarasota serves 80 to 100 clients, mostly children, daily through its Medicaid dental services.

transitioned from paper to electronic records at all clinical sites in 2013. It also developed plans to expand Women, Infants and Children’s Services (WIC) to North Port.

Keeping the mosquito population under control Through state-of-the-art pest management strategies, the county’s Mosquito Management Department works to reduce the threat of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus. During the past year, the mosquito population was suppressed to below average levels in a year when the average rainfall totals exceeded the eight-year average.

The county distributed 1,300 free Gambusia fish to pond owners in 2013. The fish feed on the larvae of mosquitoes.

Promoting healthy habits According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is the leading public health issue facing communities across the U.S. “We have made strides in addressing obesity in Sarasota County by involving key sectors of our community,” said Charles Henry, director of Health and Human Services. As a forerunner to the state’s Healthiest Weight Florida Initiative, the Healthy Sarasota County Collaborative was strengthened to educate community partners from area childcare centers, schools, primary-care clinics and worksites in best practice strategies to address obesity. A common message known as “5-2-1-0 Every Day!” was adopted, referring to these everyday goals: five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours of screen time or less, one hour of physical activity and zero sugary drinks. “To date, 26 Sarasota County schools have earned distinction as HealthierUS Schools,” said Henry. The work of the Healthy Sarasota County Collaborative has been referenced in national journals, including the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (vol. 24 no. 2, 2013) and Childhood Obesity (vol. 8 no. 3, 2012).

Shaping public policies Beyond offering health services, the Health and Human Services’ Policy Coordination division continuously works with community partners to effect policy change. In 2013, the division, along with the Behavioral Health Stakeholders Consortium, collaborated with Operation PAR (Parental Awareness and Responsbility), which opened Sarasota County’s first methadone clinic. As a result of this partnership, the clinic can now make direct referrals for needed services, such as mental health and substance abuse counseling, prenatal services and Healthy Start services. The division also helped create policies on prescription drug abuse, and has had an active role in community engagement on the issues of mental health, aging and homelessness in the county. “The division is critical both to our public health side and our human services/social services side because that’s where we can make lasting change in the community — not just treat someone’s illness, but actually begin to change policies in the environment in which we live to create a healthier world,” said Henry.

HEALTH AND SAFETY BY THE NUMBERS: 5.74 minutes was the average response time of the Sarasota County Fire Department for fire and emergency medical calls.


sentinel chicken flocks Sarasota County has in cages around the county in hidden areas, which are cared for and tested daily to monitor mosquitotransmitted diseases.


percent decrease in unintentional poisoning deaths in Sarasota County since the adoption of the Sarasota Pain Clinic Ordinance in 2011, which was championed by Human Services.


public emergency-preparedness presentations given by Emergency Management in 2013.


percent: the score Environmental Health received from Florida Department of Environmental Protection for ensuring the safety of Sarasota County’s public drinking water systems.


emergency management plans for hospitals, assisted-living facilities and nursing homes were reviewed by Emergency Management in 2013.


smoke detectors were installed or serviced – at no charge – by the Sarasota County Fire Department.

2013 was the year Sarasota County Fire Department celebrated its 25th anniversary.

AWARDS State EMS Raymond H. Alexander Medical Director of the Year Award for 2013 — Dr. Stephen Newman, medical director of Sarasota County Emergency Services The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings — Sarasota ranked No. 5 in the state

10,000 environmental health inspections the Department of Health conducts every year at locations such as beaches, public swimming pools, schools, water systems, mobile home parks and medical facilities. 2013 Sarasota County Annual Report



In 2003, we answered 177,120 calls to our 861-5000 Call Center. Use the center's single number whenever you have a question or concern, or when you need to reach any county official or staff member.



1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida 34236 941-861-5000



Sarasota County introduced its first employee photography contest in 2013. Diane Kennedy’s image, “Venice Pier at Sunset,” was selected from nearly 80 entries to appear on the cover of the 2014 Employee Calendar. Other winning photos were also featured in the calendar. Kennedy is a right-of-way agent with the Department of Transportation and Real Estate.

SARASOTA COUNTY 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida 34236 941-861-5000 Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Sarasota County Annual Report  
Sarasota County Annual Report