Town makes gains at county meeting
Editor & Publisher
The Sarasota County Commission agreed last week to reconsider the amount of funding Longboat Key gets back for the more than $1 million in tourist taxes it collects each year.
Town Manager David Bullock told the Sarasota leaders at a joint meeting that the town wishes to modify the distribution formula of the collected tourism taxes since Longboat only receives back about $200,000, or 1/5th of what it collects. Bullock joked that it is “a provision I liked about four or five years ago.”
The aside referred to the fact that at that time Bullock was on the other side of the negotiations working as the Sarasota County Deputy Administrator. He explained that Longboat Key is about to undertake a number of beach projects that the town self-funds and yet benefits the entire county via public beach access.
County Commissioner Nora Patterson offered support: “Longboat’s contribution was out of proportion to the population and at the time it was set there was almost no public access to beaches. I think that has changed. We understand you all pay a lot,” said Patterson.
The rest of the county commission agreed that staff should discuss a new formula and will consider the matter at a later date.
Bullock raised the issue of the struggling financial status of the Longboat Library and asked if there may be ways to form a relationship with the county system with an eye to creating efficiencies and save cost.
County Commissioner Joe Barbetta suggested the town open up discussions with the county to absorb into the county library system, but soon complexities were raised.
It was pointed out that the county public libraries are free for the public to use, while the Longboat Library is not. County Commissioner Patterson said the county library system is “limping for a lack of funding. We’ve had to cut hours—all of Sunday. I’m not ready to adopt working toward a public library on Longboat Key. If you adopt a policy for a library on Longboat Key, you’re going to hear from Siesta Key, Casey Key and many other areas.”
Vice Mayor David Brenner said the town would like the Longboat Library to continue as an independent entity, but it just wants some assistance. Eventually it was decided that staff would discuss ways to assist and augment the services of Longboat Library.