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1565 First Street
Sarasota, FL 34236

For Immediate Release: January 6, 2012


Sarasota, FL: The City of Sarasota is pleased to announce its Top Ten Department updates for December 2011:

1. Human Resources
Human Resources will be implementing a revised background check procedure for new hires and volunteers. The checks are job-specific and can include criminal background, driving record, sexual offender registry, and, if needed for the position, a credit check. Internal employees will only be asked to complete a background check upon promotion or transfer to a position that may have a business need for a background check to be conducted.

2. Finance
The bids submitted in response to Invitation to Bid #11-72MT soliciting bids for the sale of the retail condominium space adjacent to the City's Palm Avenue Parking Garage were opened on November 15, 2011. The successful bidder was Biter Enterprises, LLC, with a bid of One Million Six Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,600,000.00). The Buyer signed the Agreement on November 30th. In order to shorten the time that this space remains vacant, the Agreement was included on the December 5, 2011 City Commission agenda as a late item rather than waiting until the first meeting in January. The Purchase and Sale Agreement was approved at the December 5, 2011 City Commission meeting which enabled the Mayor to sign the Agreement during the week of December 5th. This approval in December will result in an earlier closing, as the Invitation to Bid provides for a closing within 120 days from the date of full execution of the Purchase and Sale Agreement. This 120-day period includes the 90-day "due diligence" period during which the purchaser has access to the property at reasonable times to conduct any studies, tests and inspections that purchaser may reasonably require. However, the purchaser may decide to close.

3. The Finance Department completed and filed the Annual Financial Plan (Budget) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2011 with the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for consideration of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. In order to receive this award, a governmental unit must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan and as a communications device. A copy of this submission was provided to the Commissioners via inter-office mail and is also available electronically on the City’s website.

4. Neighborhood Development Services
Intersections Art Project – The year-long Intersections Public Art Project was completed on December 5th with the selection of Dennis Kowal’s sculpture “Fractured Migration” as the winning art work. A contract with Mr. Kowal was executed with the City of Sarasota for the purchase of his sculpture on December 13, 2011 and his work is now the latest acquisition to the City’s Public Art Collection. Fractured Migration is located in Selby Five Points Park and is best seen at night when the lights show off all its hidden facets.

5. SIMME Seat Installation – Due to LAMAR’s recent removal of their bus stop shelters in the City of Sarasota, City staff, in cooperation with SCAT, installed ‘Simme Seats’ at five locations. This was a very cost-effective, collaborative project as SCAT had five ‘Simme Seats’ in their inventory and the City was able to provide the installation. The locations include:

• US 301 @ Princeton Street (NB)
• US 301 @ 12 th Street (NB) at Midas
• US 301 @ 13th Street (SB)
• US 301 @ 17th Street (NB)
• US 301 @ 17 th Street (SB) at Wendy's

6. Police Department
After months of researching companies for Red Light Cameras, an agreement was signed in June 2011 to install cameras at the most dangerous intersections in the City of Sarasota. On December 1, 2011, the camera located at Tuttle Avenue/Bahia Vista Street was up and running, recording red light violators on camera. Traffic Unit Officers and several Patrol Division Officers attended a training session to review violations. Within the first month, more than 300 violations were reviewed at this approach. By late spring 2012, nine other approaches will be completed at several intersections throughout the City of Sarasota.

7. Public Works Department
Christmas at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex – Through a partnership with Mr. and Mrs. McArthur of Eternal Bread of Life Ministries approximately 175 families (about 400 people) enjoyed participating in a variety of games, making holiday crafts, playing with snow, singing seasonal winter songs and of course visiting with Santa. In addition to the fun family activities, the McArthur’s distributed toys to about 200 children in attendance including raffling off youth bicycles to 10 lucky families. See attached Picture Gallery.

8. St. Armand’s Enhanced Landscape Medians Project – Project is substantially complete and was done on time and within budget. The project included four medians adjacent to St. Armand’s Circle Park which received new sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety/walk-ability. Two medians received new curbs. Each median has its own distinct design theme incorporating a botanical garden feel and a Wayfinding quality. LED light fixtures were incorporated to create a romantic garden walk mood at night. Also included were four uniquely styled brick paver areas within the center of each median and two informal shell walks within each median to allow accessibility across the medians.

9. Public Works Utilities
The Utilities Department has installed the new water meter reading computer equipment inside of a Toyota Prius which was partially funded through an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. Water meters will now be read by driving through a neighborhood, and this green initiative reduces emissions for four meter reading vehicles, and eliminates a hazardous and laborious duty to read meters. The reduction in meter readers saves the city money, and the whole program is environmentally friendly.

10. Van Wezel
The Van Wezel added 5 new shows to its 2011-12 season with Willy Nelson, The Moody Blues, Cirque Dreams’ Pop Goes The Rock, Chicago and a matinee of Cats.

For more information contact Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown: 941-954-4102

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