Siesta Key Future Tops Delegation Agenda

Todays News

The incorporation of Siesta Key will be the first matter state lawmakers discuss at the annual meeting of the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation. But it’s clear there’s still a process ahead before the island community can become its own city.

The Save Siesta Key citizen group will discuss a feasibility study submitted to the Legislature last month. The document includes a proposed city charter that establishes a five-member town council, elected to four-year terms in at-large elections, with a commission-manager form of government. The commission would select mayors to serve for a year, similar to in the neighboring city of Sarasota.

“The proposed Town of Siesta Key, Florida is uniquely positioned to assume responsibility for home rule of the coastal island community of Siesta Key. Providing the local community with local control of planning and zoning decisions will help preserve the unique characteristics of this area,” the report reads.

A staff analysis, though, finds some issues with this first version of the study. Those include needing better definition of a Southern boundary for the imagined city and better identification of zonings and projects allowed in the potential municipality. Some details need further clarity as far as application of a municipal services taxing unit and jurisdiction over navigable waterways. The charter also needs to be beefed up with details like candidate qualification requirements.

“Municipalities must meet certain population, geographic, and legal requirements in order to incorporate,” a staff response reads. The Legislature can waive some of those, but needs greater documented justification.

Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton and chair of the county delegation, said he’s set aside time for advocates to discuss their plans at the start of the meeting today, at 9 a.m. at the Sarasota County Administration Boulding. “The Florida House committee staff has concerns about the feasibility study, and the proponents of incorporation are responding to those concerns,” he said. “I just want to hear their priorities.”

The delegation also expects to hear reports from every major government entity in the county and from numerous civic groups. Members say the input today will shape their own budget priorities heading into the 2022 Legislative Session.

“Infrastructure and roads continue to be a need in eastern Sarasota, and I don’t think that’s limited to my district,” he said.

All of the state lawmakers representing any portion of Sarasota County will hear from local constituents and groups.

 

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