Sarasota News Leader

05/10/2013

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TURNER'S SCARY SWAN SONG ANALYSIS: WILL THERE STILL BE A SARASOTA IN 20 YEARS? By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Terry Turner declined to run for a second term on the Sarasota City Commission. For the past four years, the former entrepreneur and economics professor consistently has egged his colleagues to look at and learn about the fiscal realities for which they are responsible. ring some emergency meeting. His final message — as the clock ticked towards 11 p.m. — was perhaps the most alarming of all. He forced unpopular decisions on the city's pension administrators, endearing himself to not a single current or retired city employee. His eye was not so much on the current budget as the out-year implications of current decisions. He often played Cassandra to the Pollyannas, stripping off their rose-colored glasses to look at the cold, hard numbers. THE FISCAL TRAP His solution would require reconsideration of long-held judgments. The combined city-county tax rate in Sarasota is among the lowest in the State of Florida. While the Legislature puts a 10-mill cap on cities as well as counties, Sarasota city and county are not even close to that level. Both the City and County of Sarasota levy about 3 Monday, May 6, in all likelihood saw Turner's mills each, giving them enormous headroom final appearance as a city commissioner, bar- to raise rates. (Above) City Commissioner Terry Turner says the city needs more density. Already, downtown has a number of condominium towers, such as the one at 1350 Main St. Photo by Norman Schimmel

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