Commissioners not happy with consultant report

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL - Sarasota County commissioners now say a $90,000 consultants report on dealing with growth is not what they wanted. Tuesday at least one commissioner agreeing it's a waste of taxpayer dollars.

48 pages of why zoning and development restrictions are a burden on growth. It goes as far back as the year 1388. Chaucer's description of a suburb in "The Canterbury Tales." A surprise says commissioner Nora Paterson. "I was surprised the consultant expressed her economic theories as clearly and as detailed as she did."

Patterson says she didn't find the expensive draft report by Donna Arduin with Laffer Associates very helpful. When asked if she thought it was a waste of money she replied "From my perspective. Yeah, I think we did."

"It went way beyond the scope of what we thought we were getting." It suggests eliminating most regulations on development and cutting the county's 2050 plan. Commissioner Joe Barbetta says it's not what he's looking for. "In the July meeting I think we asked as a board for an analysis of fiscal neutrality, timing, and monitoring. It ended up being a tretis on smart growth, urban service boundaries, and things like that."

Reports indicate the consulting firm is well known for being pro-development and anti regulation. Patterson says that doesn't help. "I think we would have come off better with the public had we chosen somebody who was neutral in terms of philosophy regarding development."

Barbetta says they're on the hook for half the costs so far. Still looking for an answer to how to deal with fiscal neutrality. Basically the timing and method of how developers must prove their projects are paying for the impact on the community. Other then cutting it all together. "We have to work with fiscal neutrality. We need recommendations on how to make it work."

Tuesday commissioners asking staff to go back to the consulting firm and figure out where the communication breakdown was. Patterson hopes some good will come of it. "Have a conversation with Mrs. Arduin to see if she feels like she can be more helpful then she has so far."

Commissioners hope to have an update in time for their Wednesday meeting.