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SRQ DAILY Nov 7, 2015

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Defining impact fees as a tax on developers is flawed and detrimental to the community conversation. If one wishes to advocate for higher fees, it should be understood who will pay them."

- Kevin Cooper, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

[Community]  Empowering Our Children Through Learning
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

When school began this year, sisters Jennifer and Maritza, ages six and seven, were ready for success. Recent reports showed that along with them so were 63 other students who participated in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County’s Great Futures Academy, 21 students from the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County’s Bridges to Kindergarten program, and 44 girls who joined the Girls Inc. program Grade Level and Beyond—all funded by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Over the summer, Jennifer and Maritz spent their break from school at Great Futures Academy. While enjoying games and activities aimed towards learning and administered by a certified teacher—whether on a computer, playground, or in an arts room—the girls didn’t realize that they were improving their reading skills and benefitting from something that many children in their situation sorely miss out on over the summer and during the school year, access to books and other learning activities at home.

Each year, students from low-income households experience an average loss in reading achievement of more than two months, and over time these gaps cause debilitating effects on their success in school.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s commitment to innovative summer learning and after-school programs has provided a critical link in education, allowing vulnerable populations of students to participate in programs through a network of nonprofit partners.

But this is only half the story. While these students were growing their reading comprehension and other valuable skills, their parents were benefitting from home visits by a social worker and other valuable services. The families had access to vital classes on parenting, budgeting, and life skills as well as opportunities to expand their own educational and professional development.

Inspired by Ascend at the Aspen Institute, the Community Foundation has focused our effort in working to break the cycle of poverty through a two-generation, whole-family approach by creating opportunities for and addressing the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents together.

Many families in our community are advancing their situations through three key components provided by our two-generation lens:

  • Educational opportunities, providing families with scholarship opportunities, life skills, and parental and professional development.

  • Economic supports, offering assistance with housing, transportation, financial education and asset-building, tax credits, and child care subsidies so parents have an important scaffold to support their efforts in gaining financial stability.

  • Social capital, building on the resilience of families and bolstering the aspirations parents have for their children and for themselves by providing access to a system of peer support, including networking with family, friends, neighbors, various community organizations, and employment contacts.  

One doesn’t have to look far to see the success of this strategy. Since August of 2013, 45 single mothers with children at Alta Vista Elementary have taken advantage of our American Red Cross Certified Nursing Assistant program at Alta Vista. Simultaneously, and on the same campus while their children excelled in the elementary school’s Eagle Academy for students from low-income households, these mothers endeavored to graduate with their assistant nursing certifications.   Now with degree in hand and on a career ladder, the opportunities are endless for these families to improve their quality of life and take one big step forward on the road to financial stability.

Roxie Jerde is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Chamber]  Impact Impasse - Who Foots the Bill?
Kevin Cooper, Kcooper@sarasotachamber.com

This year has brought much focus on impact fees collected throughout Sarasota County.  Unfortunately, there are numerous misconceptions perpetuated throughout local conversations and media reports on the subject.  Perhaps the most common misunderstanding exists in the assignment of who is responsible for paying impact fees.  Time and time again, impact fees are purported to be the responsibility of developers.  Indeed, when impact fees are lowered or perceived to be insufficient, the rhetoric is often that developers are being given a break.  However, this line of thinking is fundamentally flawed.       

Impact fees are charged to cover the cost of the additional usage of public facilities and services created by new construction.  For example, a new home often leads to additional residents.  In turn, those new residents mean additional usage of services like law enforcement and facilities like parks.

Property taxes fund current and planned public services and facilities, but growth will eventually require additional capacity.  While property taxes pay for the maintenance of existing roadways, for example, how are new roadways funded when growth creates the need?  That, in essence, is why impact fees exist.  The notion is that existing taxpayers shouldn’t be responsible for any additional cost burden created by new residents and commercial activity.

There are a few points that help demonstrate who is ultimately responsible for impact fees.

Take, for example, a scenario where a husband and wife purchase a vacant lot upon which to build a house; no developer, just taxpayers looking to build their dream home.  They will pay the same impact fees as a homebuilder in a master-planned community; not a penny more, not a penny less.

Second, it’s worth looking at when impact fees are collected.  Most impact fees become due when a certificate of occupancy is issued.  Certificates of occupancy are required in order to certify that a structure is legally prepared for everyday use.  It’s not the development of the structure that triggers the requirement of many impact fees, rather, it’s when the structure is reasonably anticipated to be used.  The use will likely be by an occupant, not a developer.

Lastly, it’s important to understand that impact fees have a shelf life.  If the fees collected aren’t spent within a predetermined time period then they are eligible for refund.  Presumably, those unused dollars would be refunded to whomever is expected to have paid them.  Sarasota County provides that impact fee refunds be distributed to the current property owner.  The likelihood that a developer, particularly in residential areas, would also be the current property owner when impact fees are eligible for refund is extremely low.  Instead, it’s likely the taxpaying inhabitant.

Reasonable people may disagree on whether or not impact fees should exist or at what rate they should be levied.  However, defining impact fees as a tax on developers is flawed and detrimental to the community conversation.  If one wishes to advocate for higher fees, it should be understood who will pay them.  It’s not that developers pass impact fees on to buyers, it’s that buyers are why impact fees exist in the first place.

Kevin Cooper is the vice president for Public Policy and Sarasota Tomorrow Initiatives for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce 

[Government]  Nobody Knows
Bob Richardson

At City Hall we have a statue called “Nobody’s Listening.” We ought to add another statue called “Nobody Knows.” Watching City Hall and the County Commission bicker on how to spend welfare money, will it be indigent care or will it be corporate welfare is a lesson in society’s priorities. The truth of the matter is nobody knows how much tax money we spend on local issues, whether it is arts and culture, environment, education, corporate, tourism, medical, indigent care, etc.  We have very little basis for making value judgments based on sound community knowledge. “Nobody Knows” what’s the return on our community’s investment in each area or the effectiveness of the programs we advocate for or against. We have anecdotal knowledge but very little fact-based evidence of success or failure! Without responsible follow through on certifiable results. 

Most of our decisions are based on politics or will it make us feel good.  “Nobody Knows” how we rank against our peers. On top of that, there are very few if any commonly known and recognized community goals that we citizens can see the community trying to achieve or work towards.

City and County elected officials all complain about the citizens advocacy of “Not in my back yard" (NIMBY) on growth and undesirable elements in the community, yet on the homeless shelter, they are leading the way on example setting!

We seemed to be based on helter-skelter chaos, with the redeeming feature of being settled on the bay which to this point has always rescued us with its magnetic draw to riches. 

Bob Richardson, Sarasota 

[SOON]  Strike A Pose For Veterans November 9-10

Strike a Pose For Veterans, a 24 hour Yoga Challenge to support Goodwill Manasota's Connected Warriors Yoga Program begins November 9.  Snap a selfie in Tree Pose, Proud Warrior, Downward Facing Dog or Powerful/Chair Pose, submit the photo with a donation which will be matched up to $250 per person, to foundation@gimi.org and post to Goodwill Manasota's Facebook page with the hashtag #strikeaposeforvets. For details visit: http://bit.ly/1RYo2EL


Strike a Pose For Veterans

[SCOOP]  Miracle Mural

From November 6-10 the south side wall of Blue Line, Inc. will be painted and the sidewalk closed to create a special mural for our community. The mural will be on disply until November 20. Multiple local artists will participate in the painting to bring awareness to the Miracle at Suncoast event, held on November 19 at Suncoast Porsche, Audi, & VW to support special needs children with sensory disorders in Sarasota County schools. The painters of the mural are Natalie Palumbo from Ringling College of Art and Design, Kristin Kochanik-Garza of Feld Entertainment, and local artist Bianca Clyburn. 

Miracle At Suncoast

[SCOOP]  Cravats Custom Clothiers & Haberdashery Celebrates 25 Years

Cravats Custom Clothiers & Haberdashery takes great pride in producing the finest custom made shirts and clothing for men and women available anywhere. This month Cravats is celebrating 25 years of excellence and when you shop from November 9-20, the clothier will donate 25% of all purchases of $500 or more to your favorite charity.  All shoppers will receive a free gift bag.  In addition there is a chance to win what you purchase through a raffle style drawing.  Top prizes will include a two-piece suit valued at $2,500, a sport coat and trouser ensemble valued at $2,500, custom made dress shirt, custom made sport shirt, pair of Mezlan shoes, and other accessories from Cravats outstanding selection of haberdashery. Appointments are suggested for all custom orders. 941-366-7780. 

Cravats Custom Clothiers & Haberdashery

[KUDOS]  Peanut Butter Power

Kudos to Tyler Veon, a 10-year-old student at Phillippi Shores Elementary who is a shining star in the art of helping others. Tyler’s fourth-grade class was assigned a community project to help their charity of choice, and in his efforts to understand better how the Food Bank works, volunteered at a family food distribution at Riverview High School. Hearing that peanut butter is the most requested item at All Faith’s Food Bank, Tyler not only went door-to-door in his neighborhood in search of peanut butter donations, but also approached grocers who donated jars by the case. Thanks so his efforts, Tyler and his mother Karen recently dropped off 78 jars of peanut butter at  All Faiths Food Bank.   

All Faith's Food Bank

[SOON]  CWCC-FPRA Lunch: The Gator Nation Brand

On November 18 from 11:30am-1pm at The Francis in Sarasota, The Central West Coast Chapter-Florida Public Relations Association will host a luncheon featuring presentation by Joe Hice, the man who launched The University of Florida’s Gator Nation branding campaign. Joseph S. Hice, MA, MBA, Partner, Well Strategics, has led marketing and communications efforts for Harley-Davidson, Segway, UF and Moffitt Cancer Center, and is a recipient of the Past President’s Award at the 2015 FPRA Annual Conference.   

Central West Coast Chapter � Florida Public Relations Association

[SCOOP]  SMH Foundation Receives Landmark Gift For Women's Cancer Research

The Kolschowsky Foundation has provided a gift of $5.3 million over five years  to expand research in women’s gynecological cancers at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. This gift is in addition to the phase 1 gift of $1.3 million-making the total pledged amount over $6.5 million.  In 2010, the Healthcare Foundation received an initial grant to launch a pilot program in women’s cancer research at Sarasota Memorial. Dr. James Fiorica, gynecologic oncologist and Medical Director of the Women’s Gynecology Cancer Research Program at Sarasota Memorial, collaborated with other scientists and institutions around the world with a global goal to reduce cancer deaths. This recent gift allows Sarasota Memorial to move into the next phase of the program by expanding treatment options outside of Sarasota to other regions.  

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation

[SCOOP]  Williams Parker Shareholders Celebrate and Support CFAS Design Month

Williams Parker’s Michael Wilson recently introduced eminent architect Toshiko Mori at the Center for Architecture’s monthly speaking engagement.  “Ms. Mori’s ‘Dialogue in Details’ exhibit was innovative and engaging. This exhibit was first presented at the Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy and we are thrilled to welcome it, and its esteemed curator Ms. Mori, to Sarasota,” noted Wilson. Toshiko Mori is the Hubbard Professor in Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and principal of Toshiko Mori Architect in New York City.  Mori’s strong research-based approach to design has been commended in invitations to lectures and conferences around the world.  The “Dialogue in Details” exhibit will be on display in the Don Chapell Gallery at the Center for Architecture to December 15.


Center For Architecture Sarasota

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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