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Sarasota News Leader May 10, 2013 Page 36 to personnel costs despite a big reduction in "This will be the single biggest issue for the personnel? next four city commissions. We need to manage better. We have 3.3 officers per 1,000 popu"We have built into the contracts with our la- lation. Bradenton has 2.2 per thousand. Northbor step and longevity increases and pension port has 1.9, and the [Sarasota County] sheriff costs, and all of these things are rising," said runs with 1.3," said Turner. "Police costs are Turner. "Salaries and wages will grow 37 per- too much. We need to negotiate back mancent from 2013 to 2022 with no general pay agement flexibility. Chief [Bernadette] DiPino increases. Only step increases and longevi- may be that person, but until she has flexibility. The problem comes from the legacy cost ty, there's no way to judge." structures." THE LEGACY PROBLEM Turner said Sarasota County has adopted a failed strategy to get out of the fiscal trap. "People propose we'll solve this problem by growing business," said Turner. "Business now supports about 25 percent of the ad valorem [taxes]. Even if we grew business by 100 percent, that won't solve the problem. Revenue growth and business growth are not going to solve this problem." "Revenue growth might solve a quarter or even half of the problem, but not the whole problem," he added. "The only way to get there is to solve the legacy problem." THE TURNER SOLUTION If more business does not come into the area to provide the revenue, and a higher tax rate takes decades to achieve, what is left? "One way or another, we need more density," said Turner. "The way you get more population is to focus on making this a place people want to live," he said. "There's no other way to go. All of your policy decisions need to keep that in mind." Commissioner Paul Caragiulo gave his support to that proposal. "I agree with your goal of getting a higher population, of increased density at the urban core. Right now, 1350 [a Main Street condominium tower] has more "The cost of the Police Department is going to taxable value than all of Laurel Park," he said. ultimately bankrupt our city if we don't man- "And the cost to deliver services goes down age it differently," said Turner. exponentially." If he were an optician or a real estate agent "One way or another we need more density," or a retired engineer, there might be room Turner responded. "I suggest in the Rosemary to doubt his analysis. Although he does not District or around our big parks." flaunt them, his doctorate in economics and a professorial chair at the University of Califor- Turner had opened his 30-minute tutorial by nia-Berkley are not trivial accomplishments. saying, "This stuff is hard enough to deal with when you're awake." Because of the way the "I think the [police] union contract is a big agenda was structured and the meeting was problem. There's featherbedding; training, for conducted, it was nearly 11 p.m. when he finexample, is to be done on overtime," he said. ished. "There's union interference in hiring, firing, promotions and training. And it takes three The mayor and vice mayor had nothing years to change the contract." to say. %

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