A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jono Miller's Top 3 Priorities

The following  question and my response are from a Sarasota Herald Tribune candidate questionnaire.

What would be your top three priorities as a commissioner in the upcoming term?

The top issues facing Sarasota County in the summer of 2008 are inextricably interrelated: 1) general financial strains citizens and businesses are facing (closely linked to our depressed economy), 2) unresolved issues related to growth and sprawl, and 3) and property tax issues. From the perspective of county government the challenge is to maintain services in an era of diminished revenue.

But the real crunch is revealed in our neighborhoods’ vacant homes – mute structures that reflect lost jobs, mortgage/foreclosure problems, soured speculation, and people that have simply left town. Too many neighbors have been watching the life drained from around them, wondering if vacant dwellings on their street are increasing the potential for crime while depressing their home’s value. Sarasota County got caught relying on new home construction and sales during a perfect storm of national mortgage crisis combined with soaring insurance and property tax bills.

As Commissioner then, I believe there is a tie for the top two priorities: 1) supporting the recovery of the tax base/economy and 2) supporting the recovery of our neighborhoods, while 3) charting a course that does not drop us back into overdependence on any brittle, narrow economic sectors. Filling homes and the tax base will involve creating new (and re-creating lost) jobs, a challenging task that will require a mix of proven job generators and new initiatives.