Siesta Key incorporation stalled after bill fails to secure majority vote | Nap key

Supporters of Siesta Key’s incorporation filled Commission Chambers in the Sarasota County Administrative Building on Tuesday night, where they learned the bill would not be presented to the full state legislature after the 3-3 vote of the local legislative delegation.

The bill needed a 4-2 simple majority to pass to Tallahassee, where it would have been considered again and required the approval of the State House, Senate and Governor before reaching the ballot for a positive or negative vote among the residents.

Supporters of incorporation must wait two years to attempt the same process again.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Ashley Cebak, Ambassador for Save Siesta Key. “My family came here in the 1960s and I’m the only one left. Nothing matters to me anymore and I even have our zip code tattooed on my wrist. It means so much to the people who live here and the future people who will live here. “

The citizens of Siesta Key voiced their concerns and desires for the island before lawmakers made their decision. Those who voted against the bill have raised concerns about the proposed rate of 0.25 miles and the proposed comparatively small budget of $ 4 million in the proponent’s feasibility study.

Supporters of the incorporation also suggested a staff of five to operate the new town, a number that seemed too low for Rep. Will Robinson Jr., who voted “no” on the bill. A law requiring an incorporated city to be at least two miles from another municipality also affected the vote.

“I’m not convinced it’s going to do what you think it’s going to do,” said Rep. Tommy Gregory, who voted against the bill. “But I looked at what it would take to get you where you want to go.”

Representative James Buchanan, also a “no” voter, said government and additional taxes were not the answer to citizens’ problems. But he, along with other “no” voters, said he understood the “valid concerns” behind the bill and would be open to future discussion on it.

More than 10 supporters of the bill spoke at the meeting which included nearly three hours of debate. Representative Michelle K. Rayher, a Democrat who represents only a small part of Sarasota County, said an example given by one of the supporters helped confirm her “yes” vote.

“I heard something today that stood out for me. It has been said that “people were willing to pay for it and demanded it,” Rayher said. “You the people are claiming it and are ready to pay it. So who am I to say you can’t vote or have self-determination? “

Rep. Joe Gruters and the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Fiona McFarland, also voted “yes”. Both lawmakers have said they want citizens of the community to vote what they think is best for Siesta Key.

The same logic was proposed by Harry Anand, proponent of the incorporation and member of the board of directors of Save Siesta Key.

“These are purely people who want to take control of their own destination, that’s what motivated this whole process,” Anand said.

Proponents of incorporation cited land use decisions, cultural preservation, pedestrian safety and general beautification as the top priorities if Siesta Key were to become its own town on the proposed “light government” model. . The bill suggested that basic government functions would be handled by the new staff, but Siesta Key would still rely on other county departments such as law enforcement, firefighters and others.

While the possibility of true incorporation was largely suspended with Tuesday’s vote, the Save Siesta Key ambassadors remained committed to preserving and controlling their community to the best of their ability.

“We have two lawsuits against the county for building this and that. We hope that the lawsuits will help us gain control of the two hotels that have been raised. Nothing else can happen, ”said Carlyn Berghoff. “Unless they want to continue in this world of chases.”

“These politicians need to remember that they are working for us,” Berghoff continued. “I spoke with people on incorporated islands like Sanibel, Longboat Key and Marco Island and they all said they would do it again because of what development is doing to the island.”

Siesta Key Associated has a 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. meeting scheduled for January 6 at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Midnight Pass Road. The meeting will include a conversation about the incorporation vote and what the initiative will look like going forward.

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