|Slide courtesy of the Sarasota News Leader|
Dear Ms. Ghomshe,
I did not attend this year's presentation of the annual Sarasota County survey this year, however I had several problems with last year's report, as I believe I may have expressed to you in person in 2018.
As I read in today's Sarasota News Leader, I again have questions.
I have heard this to express our population:
"Hi! Nice to meet you. How long have you lived in Sarasota?"
"Oh, a long time - three years."
The past includes merely yesterday, and so the experience of many new residents is only today and tomorrow. Likely the combined satisfaction rate of 95% just reflects what people notice: Their garbage gets picked up, so they are happy. And of course, there's no state tax: This is heaven for folks from MN, IL, IA, NE, MI, etc.
The fact is, a majority of our residents know very little about our county government. Here is the proof:
Each respondent was asked whether he or she lives in a municipality or in the unincorporated part of the county, Myrick said. “We actually used GIS [software] to plot where they actually live versus where they said they lived,” she explained. “A lot of residents are confused about where they live …”:
If you don't know where you live, you likely are not voting in local elections: These are not engaged citizens, more like "visitors" enjoying the scenery.
"One possible explanation for the high number who had no idea how to respond, he pointed out, is the influx of new residents."
Why include respondents who do not have the experience of really living here?
Regarding the “rainy day fund” reserve:
"The correct answer in the survey was that the fund is doing better, Scacco told the board members. Yet, only 22.6% could provide the proper response. Conversely, he said, 38% had no idea how the fund is doing, while another 9.1% responded that it is doing worse."
How heavily can you count the responses of detached citizens on other subjects if they are so disinterested in management of their tax money (if indeed they pay any property tax in Sarasota County). Are your respondents landowners whose primary residence is declared to be Florida?
I disagree with Commissioner Hines: “What I think I know or I believe, living in the community, is reflected in your numbers,” Commission Chair Charles Hines told Scacco at the end of the presentation. The survey “really gives us an idea of what people are feeling,” Hines added. “A very loud minority … can affect our policies.”
There are only a minority of people in this county who have the vaguest idea about what is going on. If that minority wishes a voice, then that voice should be heavily weighted in any discussion of future policies of our county.
In talking with people in general, I have not met ONE PERSON who understands the impact of the Community Planning Act of 2011 on our traffic woes (see this History of Florida Growth Management, p. 17ff). Tallahassee has much to do with counties' problems.
I took issue with last year's findings, particularly on the undefined subject of "Safety". I take issue again with methodology of this year's report.
I await your response,