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after a newspaper article alleged BID favorit- ism in special events planning. And payment on the third issue stretches back to last sum- mer, when the BID held two referenda on extending its tenure. The first unexpectedly failed; the second was approved by Circle property owners almost at the last minute before the organization would have expired. The failure of the first referendum caused a small financial panic, because it meant the district had to conclude all its business, use up its money and pay all its debts by the end of September, before it might have gone out of existence. Meanwhile, the BID was scram- bling to hold the second referendum. Thus, at the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 — even though the second referendum was successful — the St. Armands BID budget was virtually empty, even as legal bills mounted. Money trickled in from the property tax sur- charge levied by the group for improvements to the city's tony shopping district, and some conventional expenses were skipped or deferred. For example, a company called J-Mar has handled "enhanced maintenance" of the sidewalks and trash pickup for years. While the city services the Circle weekly, high pedestrian volumes necessitate more fre- quent cleaning and litter control. When city Purchasing Director Mary Tucker asked the company to resume service, she told the BID board, "J-Mar said the mainte- nance had lapsed so long, it needs a major one-time cleaning for $5,000." The Tuesday meeting opened with approval of outstanding invoices. Copies were not pro- vided, either on the city's website or in the agenda packet of the meeting. The Sarasota News Leader determined $9,726.03 was approved this week, although it was unclear which legal firms were paid. In the past, the BID used Norton, Hammersley, Lopez and The high number of visitors to St. Armands during season necessitates more frequent collection of the garbage, property owners say. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader February 14, 2014 Page 54

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