« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

SRQ Daily Jun 16, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

""

-
 

[Gulf Coast]  Making Friends and Earning Trust
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Living on the streets is never easy. But certain times of year, nature makes surviving homelessness that much harder here in Sarasota. Take last winter, when multiple freeze warnings literally threatened lives of those permanently exposed to the elements. More recently, unseasonable rains meant an earlier start to the annual summertime battle with flooded-out camps, brutal humidity, and swarming mosquitoes.

Fortunately, our community includes a diverse and dedicated group of people doing everything they can to help ensure that homeless individuals not only survive, but also can eventually thrive in safe, permanent housing. They meet the homeless where they are—geographically, physically and emotionally. And these tireless professionals don’t even flinch when the mercury soars or the pest population explodes.

On June 4, we learned just how well their hard work is paying off. The occasion was an update to the Sarasota City Commission on our community’s collective effort to reduce chronic homelessness. The progress report was delivered by representatives of the City, the regional nonprofit Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness and the statewide Florida Housing Coalition, which crafted the plan now being implemented to effectively address our homeless crisis.

Some highlights from the update: The number of homeless is down 18 percent—within the highly concentrated City and across the wider region. A system of coordinated entry into housing and services is in place and “beginning to operate as it should,” according to FHC expert Susan Porciau. Homeless Outreach Teams of law-enforcement personnel and case managers are providing a bridge to emergency shelter, permanent housing, and wraparound services for the persistently homeless. And thanks to a major investment by private philanthropists, a new rapid rehousing program is filling the most critical gap in our community’s supply of prospective homes for the homeless. (You can visit GulfCoastCF.org for more details from the report along with a link to the video of the full presentation.) 

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has played a consistent part in convening and coordinating the many partners from government, law enforcement and nonprofit social services involved in this effort. But my colleague Jon Thaxton would be the first to tell you that it’s those partners themselves—the ones doing the heavy lifting (and outreach and counseling and apartment hunting)—who deserve our biggest thanks. In fact, he did quickly tell me so after a recent newspaper piece characterized these players as ‘Thaxton’s implementation team.’ “They’re not my team,” he insisted. “They’re our community’s team.”

That’s a great analogy for what has made such progress on homelessness possible. Even two years ago, cooperation on this once bitterly divisive issue was nearly inconceivable. But each organization involved has put the needs of the homeless and our wider community ahead of any individual agency or personal agenda. City and county staff came back to the table to work together. The Salvation Army was willing to adapt its business model to accomplish what was needed in the way of emergency shelter beds and other services. The Suncoast Partnership completely retooled its own organization and the entire homeless services system it administers.

Jon characterizes the challenging field work of the Sarasota Police Department’s and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s Homeless Outreach Teams as “making friends and earning trust.” They hit the streets and parks and woods every day, regardless of conditions, to check up on homeless individuals and guide them toward housing and other help. Making friends and earning trust is also what all of these partner agencies themselves had to focus on before any progress was possible. They did, and it has made all the difference.

Dr. Mark S. Pritchett is president/CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  Tough Decisions on Tourist Monies
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

This is a pivotal time for the Tourist Development Tax and its use. It involves a lot of money and the Board of County Commissioners will have critical decisions to make about the use of this tax in the upcoming months. 

Last fiscal year, we collected $21,344,166.92. This fiscal year, in the first six months, collections are already up 12.2 percent from last year. Decisions on how to spend this money have incredible ramifications for our economic development, which is heavily dependent on tourism.

The Tourist Development Tax is a tax on tourists. It is also frequently called a “bed tax.” It is a tax on visitors to our area that stay in overnight accommodations for six months or less. According to the Florida Department of Revenue website, this tax can be used for “capital construction of tourist-related facilities, tourist promotion, and beach and shoreline maintenance.”

The Florida Department of Revenue chart on counties tax rates shows that Sarasota gets a 5-percent tax on overnight stays. This tax is in addition to sales tax. The Sarasota Tax Collector’s Office indicates that our money is spent on “promotion, beach maintenance and re-nourishment, the arts, the sports stadium, and the Suncoast Aquatic Center.” 

Outside of beach re-nourishment and maintenance, the expenditure of these dollars almost always involves public private partnerships, whether that be with Visit Sarasota County, a sports team or a non-profit. 

In Sarasota County, we have a 13-member advisory board to the County Commission called the Tourist Development Council. This board is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners and according to Sarasota County’s TDC web page they “recommend tourism policy to the Board and oversees the use of all tourist development tax revenues collected in Sarasota County pursuant to Florida law.”

This week, Visit Sarasota County presented its budget to the TDC and noted that Pinellas, Lee and Collier counties all spend more per lodging unit in marketing dollars than Sarasota. We had a 23-percent increase in hotel rooms in the past two years. Visit Sarasota County believes they can add over $2 million more to the tax collections next year in Sarasota County. Their 2019 proposed budget is $6,917,000 with an additional allocation of $675,000 for the under 23 Rowing Championship. This is about a million more than last year.

TDC members expressed concern over marketing dollars. Conversations evolved around the increase in rooms and the possibility of room rate drops.    

Enter Mote Marine Aquarium. Mote has now also approached the county for $20 million in capital funding towards their $130 million state-of-the-art facility proposed at Nathan Benderson Park. This week, the County Administrator identified the funding source as Tourist Development Tax money.  Mote, a research and tourist destination for our visitors, is a known commodity and has a vision for our future, leveraging the traffic from Interstate-75 to attract visitors to stop here in Sarasota County.

However, the TDC Chair indicated he was approached by three organizations alone the morning of the TDC meeting about accessing this money as well. Maintaining existing tourism resources and facilities is also a variable.

No doubt, the County Commission has tough decisions ahead as to where to invest this money.  The issues of marketing investment, tourism capital investment and facility maintenance is an important discussion and the public needs to start weighing in now on how to spend these important monies.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 



[SCOOP ]  GED Classes to be Offered at Goodwill Manatee Locations

In response to the closing of Manatee Technical College's North Campus in Palmetto, Goodwill Manasota has made available community rooms at three of its Manatee County locations to provide space for the school's GED® Preparation classes. At the beginning of the new academic year in August, Manatee Technical College (MTC) will offer its GED classes at Goodwill's Corporate Campus, Ranch Lake and Cortez sites, Monday through Friday, 9am-2:30pm. Manatee Technical College is the official GED® Testing Center for Manatee County. Students must be 16 or older and not currently enrolled in high school and need a government-issued photo ID to enroll in the GED Preparation Program. 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  Gulf Coast League Season at Ed Smith Stadium

The Orioles invite fans of all ages to enjoy summer baseball at Ed Smith Stadium as the Gulf Coast League Orioles take the Main Field for 28 home games beginning Tuesday, June 19. The 28-game home slate also includes family-friendly events with community partners, giveaways and daily food specials. Admission and parking are free, though fans are encouraged to bring a non-perishable item to benefit All Faiths Food Bank. “We’re excited to offer fans the opportunity to watch our ‘stars of tomorrow’ on the Main Field at Ed Smith Stadium all season long for the first time,” said David Rovine, Vice President of Orioles-Sarasota. “Players like Manny Machad, Jonathan Schoop, and Chance Sisco got their professional start in GCL, and we can’t wait to see the Class of 2018 advance through our player development system. We’re providing free admission and parking, and we’ve planned a series of fun activities and events, along with affordable concessions, to make this a terrific outing for fans of all ages.” 

Baltimore Orioles

[SCOOP ]  4th Annual Father's Day Reunion

Today, more than 35 fathers and their families will gather together for the JFCS of the Suncoast’s 4th Annual Father’s Day Reunion.  The annual event, made possible through a grant from the Barancik Foundation, honors and recognizes dads who have completed the JFCS “Healthy Fathers” program, a free 13-week program open to any male adult 15 years or older, which is part of the JFCS Families services area. Through this program, hundreds of fathers have come to learn and better understand their important role in the development of their children and their responsibility in developing communication skills to improve their interpersonal relationships.  The annual reunion is designed to honor and recognize each father’s commitment to becoming a better communicator and partner in the lives of their children and family. 

JFCS of the Suncoast

[KUDOS ]  MMH Lung Screening Centers of Excellence

Manatee Memorial Hospital and Manatee Diagnostic Center Lung Programs have been named Screening Centers of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) for their ongoing commitment to responsible lung cancer screenings. “We are proud and honored to be working with both Manatee Memorial Hospital and Manatee Diagnostic Center’s Lung Programs as Lung Cancer Alliance Screening Centers of Excellence. Their commitment to practice responsible lung cancer screenings will lead to advancements in research and many lives saved. They are both an example to follow,” said LCA President and CEO, Laurie Fenton Ambrose. Low dose CT screening for lung cancer carried out safely, efficiently and equitably saves tens of thousands of lives a year. 

Manatee Memorial Hospital

[SCOOP ]  Global Running Day With Fleet Feet

More than 125 local enthusiasts, ranging in age from eight to 75 years, came out for Fleet Feet Sports Sarasota’s Big Run on June 6, part of a nationwide 5K Big Run celebration organized by Fleet Feet Sports. Designed to unify the efforts of running communities in different locations across the U.S. behind one event, Fleet Feet stores collectively hosted 100+ 5K fun runs, events and races across the country that drew more than 16,000 participants.   The Big Run coincided with the annual Global Running Day initiative celebrating the health and lifestyle benefits of the sport. Following the 5K fun run in Sarasota that took runners through downtown Sarasota to the Bayfront and back, participants were treated to a post-race party including music, Sabrosa Nacho Bar, drinks and drawing for prizes. 

Fleet Feet Sarasota

[SCOOP ]  SRQ Airport Hosts TSA PreCheck Enrollment Event

The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) will be enrolling passengers in the TSA PreCheck expedited screening program from July 23 through July 27. TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program that enables identified low-risk air travelers to enjoy a smart and more efficient screening experience. For TSA PreCheck travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, light outerwear or belts. To complete the application process, you will need to bring proof of identity and US citizen documentation such as a U.S. Passport or a birth certificate with a driver license. Today, TSA PreCheck has more than 450 lanes at 200+ US airports. 

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: 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. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

Copyright © 2018 by SRQ Media Group, 331 South Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.
Powered by Sarasota Web Design

Other Articles in

Dec 1, 2018Jacob Ogles

Critter Crazy

Dec 1, 2018

FOSTERING SUCCESS

Dec 1, 2018Phil Lederer

A Community Cure