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Sarasota News Leader September 6, 2013 Page 54 The standard for residential mowing that county staff included in the current scope of work for its contractors costs about $1 million more per year, Spencer Anderson, director of field services, told the board. Aug. 27. Citing a nine-page email the commissioners received Aug. 25 from an owner of the mowing firm Storm Tech, Barbetta said he was not going to approve any new action until the allegations in the email were addressed. Commissioner Joe Barbetta was in the minority on the board action, not only reiterating his frustrations with the history of abandoned mowing contracts but also his allegations that some county staff members have exacerbated the situation. Although he did not mention any names, Barbetta has pointed in the past to the county Chief Engineer James K. Harriott Jr., who heads up the Public Works Department. Tom Giddens, co-owner of Storm Tech, opened his email with the following comments: "The reasons for Sarasota County's past 'mowing fiasco' [have] been attributed to many things. The REAL problem is that the true costs for roadside mowing services in the past have always been suppressed by staff. The County is finally beginning to realize the price of having its grass cut to the specifications written in its own mowing contracts ... contracts that have gone largely unenforced by managers assisting vendors because [the vendors] 'cannot not fail.'" "I'm not proceeding with anything," Barbetta told his colleagues when Spencer Anderson, director of field services — including mowing — initially appeared before the board on County photos show a steep ditch bank (left) compared to a flatter residential right of way that contracted workers have been mowing. Image courtesy of Sarasota County

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