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BIDS AND A GRANT An extension of the bid period for the Siesta Key stormwater project nets three responses, but efforts continue to keep a water management district grant for the work — Rachel Brown Hackney Because only one company initially bid on the Siesta Key stormwater project by the due date of Jan. 9, the Sarasota County Procurement Department extended the deadline until Jan. 23 — action that netted three bids, The Sarasota News Leader learned this week. However, the lowest of those bids was about $4.3 million — almost three times the $1.5 million expense county staff had estimated for the construction. The county's chief engineer, James K. Harriott Jr., wrote the commissioners in an email late in the afternoon of Jan. 23, "I have asked staff to review the estimate work and determine why there was such a large discrepancy" between the bids and the estimate. "I am sure you will have questions. We don't have answers at this point, but I wanted you to be aware of current status." (Full story here) SAFETY AFTER SANDY HOOK The Sarasota County School Board learns it may be stymied by a lack of funding resources as it seeks to enhance campus security — Scott Proffitt Although the Sarasota County School Board members this week affirmed their desire to make the county's schools as safe as possible in the wake of the Dec. 14 deaths of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, they may be stymied by their budget in regard to any new measures. Al Weidner, deputy chief financial officer, told the board members during a Jan. 22 workshop, "We are down to where we were 10 years ago" in terms of district revenue. "I'm not hearing anything real good," he added. The Great Recession produced a decrease in funding for education both at the state and local levels, Weidner pointed out. County Commissioner Nora Patterson reminded a group on Siesta Key last week that the county's tax base had declined about 40 percent as a result of the economic downturn. What may be the deciding factor for plans to improve school security is whether voters will approve another renewal of the district's special 1 mill tax in 2014, district officials said. (Full story here) Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article AT A GLANCE TOP STORIES

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