Sarasota News Leader

08/30/2013

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NEWS BRIEFS Chairwoman Carolyn Mason chats with Vice Chairman Charles Hines at the May 14 County Commission budget workshop. File photo COUNTY COMMISSION FORMALLY APPROVES NEW RESERVES POLICY Reaffirming action they took during their May 14 budget workshop, the Sarasota County commissioners on Aug. 27 formally voted 3-2 to reduce the amount in the county's disaster reserve fund to a level that will cover 75 days of operations instead of 90. board's Aug. 20 budget workshop regarding whether all or part of the approximately $8.1 million in one-time funds available as a result of the policy change should be spent on initiatives that could generate a positive impact on the county's economy. Chairwoman Carolyn Mason, Vice Chairman Charles Hines and Commissioner Joe Barbetta once again were in the majority, while Commissioners Nora Patterson and Christine Robinson voted "No" again. "We're well within good practices," Hines noted, concurring with Barbetta. Robinson and Patterson pulled the item from the board's Aug. 27 consent agenda to maintain consistency with their earlier position. "I don't agree at this point in time to do that," Patterson said of the change. "The projections don't look good," she added, referring to the continuing use of money from the county's economic uncertainty reserve fund to plug budget holes. It would be fine if a future commission chose to change the policy after seeing a need for the money in the general fund, she added, "but … the truth is there are actually a lot more than $8 million in requests that the commission is considering" for the next fiscal year. In making the motion for the policy change, Barbetta said, "We're still well above the average," adding that staff research presented in May indicated most Florida counties maintain a policy that calls for a 60-day operating reserve fund. "I think we're in pretty good shape," he said. Patterson continued, "To spend this money now and not have any potential a couple of "Let's put that money to work in our commu- years from now, I just don't think it's prudent." nity," Hines told his colleagues. He was referring to discussion that arose again during the Rachel Brown Hackney

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