Venice wants country agreements reviewed

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SARASOTA COUNTY - Monday was a day to reflect on work, and Venice city leaders say they're busy doing just that. They're now wanting to look at how they and the county work together -- something they say might need some serious examination.

The city of Venice and Sarasota County have 30 inter-local agreements. "They tend to get rubber stamped. Recently Venice Mayor John Holic has questioned one in particular, wanting answers on how Sarasota County gets all the money for ambulance care inside municipal lines when the city's fire crews also have to go to the scene. "We each might get a benefit but someone might be getting far more the monetary benefit. Someone might be getting far less."

Holic says the county billed out more than two million dollars to users. The city got nothing. Saying they could be losing out on as much as a million dollars a year.

It may have started with that review of emergency services but the Mayor says they want to go further. City officials recently given some homework. Handed a few each to review and bring back to council. "We are looking at parks, beaches, the fire department, police department. All of it."

For example Venice has built most of it's parks but the county maintains them. The county typically controls concession and rental fee money. Residents pay taxes to both. Also, roads the county maintains inside city limits. From paving to mowing medians. A sticking point recently. "Those that are country responsibility all we are doing is asking them to keep up with those streets so our city looks as good as it can."

Some of the agreements currently run for decades into the future. With budgets squeezing all local governments Holic says they have to look at everything. "Government should be dynamic. It should require a review process and there should be nothing that sits there for 20 or 30 years and not get looked at again."

Sarasota County leaders were unavailable for comment due to the holiday. Both local governments will be talking about the agreements at a joint meeting set for October.