From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
May 15, 2015
Congratulations to our two new City Commissioners who were sworn into office this afternoon (May 15) during a statutory meeting at City Hall:  Liz Alpert, representing District 2, and Shelli Freeland Eddie, representing District 3.   Both will serve a 4-year term.   In many ways, this is an historic City Commission.  For the first time, an African-American was elected outside of District 1; two African-Americans now sit on the Commission; and, women are a super majority.  (More on the meeting, including the selection of the Mayor and Vice Mayor, below.)  Staff and I look forward to working with the 2015-2016 City Commission in the months to come.  And, we'll get started right away with a City Commission meeting next Monday, May 18.  


  • General Employees' Pension Board
    Mon., May 18 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Mon., May 18 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., May 20  - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Arborist I
Control Systems Technician I
Exec. Assistant to the City Manager
Golf Course Attendant
Information Systems Security Analyst
Landscape Maintenance Tech II
Lifeguard I
Maintenance Tech II
Parking Garage Attendant
Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant
School Crossing Guard
   Utilities Engineer (Contract)   

This Week's Items to Know:
Mayor and Vice Mayor Selected    During the Statutory City Commission meeting this afternoon (May 15), the City Commission selected a new Mayor and Vice Mayor.   District 1 Commissioner Willie Shaw was selected to serve as Mayor for the second consecutive year.   For the next year, he will chair the meetings and have other ceremonial duties.  And, At-Large Commissioner Suzanne Atwell was selected as Vice Mayor.  Congratulations to both!  We look forward to a productive year ahead!
District 1 Commissioner Willie Shaw is the Mayor for the next year, and
At-Large Commissioner Suzanne Atwell is the Vice Mayor. 
State of the City Address    Also during the meeting, Mayor Shaw presented the annual State of the City address and emphasized how our diversity helps make the City strong and resilient.  Many achievements also were highlighted including balancing the current fiscal year budget without using reserves, and modernizing health care choices to better manage costs in a changing and competitive market.   Mayor Shaw also touched on the need to extend the CRA to help with the revitalization in Newtown. 

We continue to see remarkable investment interest in our community
Mayor Willie Shaw presenting the
State of the City address. 
with the Neighborhood and Development Services Department currently issuing a record number of building permits.  30+ new or proposed developments are underway downtown, including the State Street Garage which is expected to open in June.  The retail vacancy rate in downtown is just 4 percent -- an enviably low rate for most cities. 

The City Commission has also focused on a strategic 8-point plan to address the chronic homeless issue, with a key component being housing and mental health casework.  This will continue to be an ongoing long term initiative and we look forward to partnering with as many individuals, government agencies, faith based and secular organizations as possible to help get the chronic homeless into housing with the wrap around social services they need.

Two significant projects which improved the quality of our environment were completed this year:  the deep injection well on the Utilities campus, and the restoration of Lido Beach which helped stabilize the shoreline and infrastructure.  On top of all this, the City is experiencing its lowest crime rate in 20 years. 

It has been a productive year with many accomplishments.  Thank you to the City Commission for their leadership and to staff for working diligently and enthusiastically to carry out the Commission's vision and policies. 

We have many opportunities ahead and much more to accomplish.  And, we look forward to working closely with this newly seated Commission in the term ahead.

The new City Commission:  Liz Alpert (District 2); Vice Mayor Suzanne Atwell (At-Large); Susan Chapman (At-Large); Shelli Freeland Eddie (District 3); Mayor Willie Shaw (District 1) 
 Law Enforcement Memorial Service    Sarasota hosted the 30th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service this morning at St. Martha's Catholic Church adjacent to City Hall.  The service is held each year in conjunction with National Police Week to honor the men and women who serve and protect our communities and to remember Florida law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
North Port Police Chief Kevin Vespia and Sarasota Memorial Hospital Chief Mickey Watson presenting a memorial wreath. 

Many agencies in the surrounding area joined the Sarasota Police Department for the event, including the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, Florida Highway Patrol, Longboat Key Police Department, New College Campus Police Department, North Port Police Department,  Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and Venice Police Department.

In 2014, six officers and one K-9 were killed in the line of duty in Florida.  Each was remembered during the ceremony. 

Thank you to SPD for coordinating this heartfelt service and honoring those who protect our communities.  To see more photos from the event click here.

A floral presentation was included in the service:  a red rose to represent blood shed by the Officers; a blue flower for the crime-free/sin-free life of the Officers; and a lily for the purity of the Officers' lives. 
Van Wezel - 2 Top Honors   Our Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall recently took top honors not once but twice!  For the first time, the Van Wezel is the top tourist draw for visitors to Sarasota County (beaches excluded).  According to our friends at Visit Sarasota County, during the first quarter (Jan. - March 2015), 36 percent of tourists visited the Van Wezel.  In close second was St. Armands Circle with 35 percent. 

We attribute this slight shift to the strong efforts by Executive
Van Wezel Interior
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. 
Director Mary Bensel and her tireless team to bring a diverse assortment of shows to the Hall.  This season, we offered something for everyone -- from Ringo Starr to the Broadway hit 'Jersey Boys' to Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan to comedian Bill Engvall  -- plus, children's programs as well. 

And, continuing with the good news, once again the Van Wezel was ranked as the number one performing arts hall in North America in the 2,000 seat category.  This prestigious ranking comes from Venues Today, a popular industry trade publication.  Having this honor is important and helps shine a brighter light on the Van Wezel when performers are booking venues.

Kudos again to the entire Van Wezel team and thank you to the Van Wezel Foundation for its continued efforts toward improving the Van Wezel experience.

Bond Refunding - GFOA 'Best Practice of the Week'    Last week, in Weekly Briefs, we told you about a bond refunding that is projected to save the City $6.4 million over the next 22 years -- or $3.2 million in net present value.  Now, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has featured the City's refinancing as its 'Best Practice of the Week' in its e-newsletter. 

GFOA is a professional organization which sets the bar for best practices in government finance.  The association has 18,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.  So, to be acknowledged as having the 'Best Practice of the Week' is indeed an international feather in our cap!

Congratulations again to our Finance team.  To see the GFOA newsletter click here
Payne Park Tennis - Summer Special    Attention tennis players!  As we approach the warm summer months, Payne Park Tennis Center is offering an enticing deal to keep us playing outside --- even
A summer pass at Payne Park
Tennis Center is $150.
in the heat.   A summer pass for May - September is just $150That's less than a buck a day -- the most affordable rate all year. The summer pass includes "all you can play" access to 12 clay courts (with lights for night play). 

The promotion ends in two weeks on May 30th.  For more information contact the Tennis Center:  941-861-8193 or click here

The Payne Park Tennis Center is owned by the City of Sarasota and through an interlocal agreement is operated by Sarasota County. 

Upcoming Events

Jim Widick Memorial Disc Golf Tourney
North Water Tower Park 
Sat. and Sun., May 16 & 17
7 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Circle of Boats 
Sat. and Sun., May 16 & 17
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Harvey Milk Festival 
Selby Five Points Park
Sat., May 16
2:30 p.m. - Midnight

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

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

For more information visit

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Tom Barwin
City Manager