From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
May 8, 2015
Even as the mercury creeps upward and we transition from spring to summer-like temperatures, we have some beautiful Florida native trees in bloom around the city.  This is a geiger tree (cordia sebestena).  The geiger tree thrives near salt water, which makes it a good tree  for our community.   We spotted this one, with its brilliant orange blooms, at City Hall this week.


  • Lift Station 87 - Project Team Meeting
    Mon., May 11 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Historic Preservation Board
    Tues., May 12 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Public Art Committee
    Wed., May 13 - 1 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Control Systems Technician I
Golf Course Attendant
Information Systems Security Analyst
Landscape Maintenance Tech II
Lifeguard I
Maintenance Mechanic I
Maintenance Tech I
Maintenance Tech II
Parking Administrative Clerk
Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant
School Crossing Guard
Senior Pension Analyst
   Utilities Engineer (Contract)   

This Week's Items to Know:
Bond Refunding = $6.4 Million Savings    Earlier this week, the City closed on a significant financial transaction which will save taxpayers $6.4 million -- or nearly $291,000 every year for the next 22 years (through Fiscal Year 2037).

Outstanding Series 2007 General Obligation Bonds were retired and Series 2015 General Obligation Refunding Bonds were issued at lower interest rates.  The new interest rate is a 3.14 percent true interest cost compared to an average coupon interest rate of 4.8 percent for the Series 2007 Bonds. 

Mayor Willie Shaw, Finance Director John Lege and me signing documents last week
prior to closing the refunding of the City's Series 2007 G.O. Bonds. 

In today's dollars (net present value), the savings is $3.2 million.  According to the Government Finance Officers Association's best practices, bond refunding should be considered when a 3 to 6 percent net present value can be achieved.  The City's net present value savings is 9.29 percent of refunded par --- that's three times the best practices minimal gain recommendation    

Thank you to the City Commission for authorizing the bond refinance, and our Finance Director John Lege and his department for their continued dedication and hard work in identifying the opportunity and implementing the Commission's decision with exquisite timing.  The successful refinance will result in a slight reduction in next year's debt levy portion on the City's section of the property tax bill.

Newtown Monuments   The entrance into Newtown is officially being designated.  Two substantial monument signs are under construction along U.S. 301:  one north of 24th St. and the other south of 29th St.  Both are located on the west side of the road, and will indicate to drivers they are entering Newtown.

I'm told that when discussions about creating these monuments first started many years ago, the Florida Department of Transportation, which oversees U.S. 301 and signage along that roadway, had to re-write its policy to accommodate the monuments because no regulations pertaining to such items existed at the time.  (FDOT now technically refers to them as a 'community aesthetic feature'.)
L to R:  One of the monuments under construction;
a rendering of what the monuments will look like 
Hats off to our persistent staff who worked with FDOT and the community for years on this project to make it a reality.  And, thanks to residents for their patience as we worked through the issues to make it happen. 

The monuments are approximately 12 feet tall with the foundation made of cultured stone and a sloped roof on top.  We anticipate they should be completed in early June.

Welcome Sustainability Manager - Stevie Freeman-Montes   A hearty welcome to our new Sustainability Manager, Stevie Freeman-Montes!  Stevie joined our staff last week, and within a few days she had already attended the monthly meeting of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations and attended her first City Commission meeting.

Her initial priority will be to review the City's previous and ongoing sustainability initiatives, including the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, which the City of Sarasota signed in 2007.  With
Stevie Freeman-Montes is the City's Sustainability Manager. 
residents' help, Stevie will help craft strategies and recommendations on what our city and community can do to live up to the agreement and play our role as the earth and its citizens and communities face rising sea levels and climate change.

She also will work on possible solar energy collaborations with FPL and others, including our own utility operations.

And, as we expect the sea levels to rise over the coming years, Stevie will implement a strategy to monitor, measure and report on those changes in Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and what we can expect and how we can respond as a community.

For the past four years, Stevie implemented the sustainability program for the City of Beaverton, Oregon.  She has a Bachelor of Science in zoology as well as a Master of Arts in sustainable development.

She just moved her family across the country to work in our special community and is excited to be living in the city limits and becoming part of the Sarasota community.

We are thrilled to have Stevie on board and working on green initiatives.  Please welcome her to our special community.

She can be reached at: or 941-365-2200 ext. 4202.

Bayfront 20:20 - Update    Earlier this week, Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 stakeholders met to update the group on several issues, including:  future options for retaining park design expertise; technical work City staff is doing to understand everything about the 42 acre bayfront park; the timing of the Sarasota Orchestra's future needs assessment; and, the the Van Wezel Foundation's future needs assessments.  All of the reports discussed are works in progress, but expected to be completed by fall.

Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 meeting held this past Tuesday at the Sarasota Orchestra. 
Runoff Election & Charter Amendments - May 12    The District 2 and District 3 City Commission seats will be decided next Tuesday, May 12th. 

The candidates are:

District 2

* Liz Alpert
* Eileen Normile (Incumbent)

District 3

* Shelli Freeland Eddie
* Stan Zimmerman (Incumbent)

The District 2 and District 3 Commissioners will be sworn into office next Friday, May 15th at noon.  Also, at that time, the City Commission will select a Mayor and Vice Mayor.

Two proposed Charter amendments also will be on the ballot.  Both items would clarify the Charter dealing with (1) the one year residency requirement for someone to be elected or appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Commission; and (2) the start of the 180 day period to obtain signatures for a citizens' initiative petition.  

With the Charter amendments on the ballot, this will be a 
citywide election, so all current registered City of Sarasota voters will be eligible to vote.
Bobby Jones Golf Club - MCC & Jr. Golf Camp    Congratulations to Antione Santarelli, who walked away with his first Men's City Championship title this past weekend.  After four rounds of play on the British Course over the past two weekends, he claimed the top prize with a -8 overall score. 

Antione is just 21 years old and is an IMG Academy alum.  He has competed in the Men's City Championship several times before, and this year was his breakthrough!

Tournament runner ups were:  K.C. Fox at 1 under par and Tononari Fukyama at Bobby Jones Logo par. 

We appreciate the 90+ golfers who participated in this competitive tournament at our historic municipal golf complex. 

Never ones to slow down, the Bobby Jones staff is now gearing up for their next significant activity:  Junior golf camp for the kids and grandkids this summer!   Three 3-day sessions will be offered for children 8 to 18:

* June 22-24
* July 20-22
* August 10-12

The students will be instructed by our resident PGA Professional Christian Martin as well as Assistant Golf Professional Daniel Bailey.  Each camp is $100 per child....and space is limited to just 12 golfers.  Sessions are in the morning from 9 a.m. to noon and include a kid-friendly lunch each day.  For more details click here
Junior golf campers walking the course last summer.  

Upcoming Events

  Walk to Cure Arthritis
Payne Park 
  Sat., May 9 
8 a.m. - Noon

Downtown Spring Arts & Crafts Festival  
Selby Five Points Park
Sat. and Sun., May 9 and 10
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sarasota Orchestra & Fireworks  
Ed Smith Stadium
Sat., May 9
7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. 

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

American Idol Live!
Wed., July 8 - 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit

Thanks for reading this week's edition.  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at

Tom Barwin
City Manager