Save Siesta Key to host public information meeting Dec. 6 at Siesta Key Chapel as another legislative delegation vote nears
By John Morton
“The Future of Siesta Key” is what the island’s incorporation group is calling a public information meeting it plans to hold at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at Siesta Key Chapel, 4615 Gleason Ave.
That’s how important Save Siesta Key feels its current straw vote is. At the meeting, the group that’s fighting for Siesta Key to become its own municipality will reinforce the ballot-by-mail campaign it has initiated, with the ballots due back by mail hopefully by Dec. 8 and no later than Dec. 17, it has reported.
More than 7,000 ballots went out in mid-November to the island’s registered voters. If you did not receive one and are a registered voter, Save Siesta Key asks that you call (941) 287-8024 in order to receive one.
While the results are non-binding, the group hopes the outcome will demonstrate the residents’ desire to see the incorporation issue on a local referendum ballot. In January, when the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation shot down the group’s first attempt with a 3-3 vote, some in the delegation suggested that a straw vote that gauges the community’s interest could be persuasive.
“It’s critical,” Tracy Jackson, vice-chair with Save Siesta Key, said of initiative. “The straw vote is a defining moment for the future of Siesta Key.”
The ballots will be tabulated by an independent law firm to ensure credibility. Save Siesta Key hopes to provide results to the delegation when it likely votes in early January. That body — now consisting of state Sen. Joe Gruters and state Reps. Fiona McFarland, James Buchanan, and Michael Grant – serves as a gatekeeper of sorts before an incorporation bill can move to Tallahassee during the state’s legislative session that begins in March. There, it must pass both the House and Senate, and then be approved by the governor, before it comes back to Siesta Key for a local referendum vote that would require a majority. It all that goes in Save Siesta Key’s favor, the island would become a township on Dec. 31, 2023.
Meanwhile, the meeting will also serve as an update for the residents who are returning for the winter season, Jackson said. A similar town hall meeting was held last December, hosted by Gruters, and it served as both a pep rally of sorts and the chance for residents to address some members of the delegation. Members of the delegation have been invited this time as well, Jackson said.
The Siesta Key Association civic group is co-hosting the event, and it will feature a toy drive that will benefit hurricane victims.
Fundraising will also be a priority. As of mid-November, Save Siesta Key was about $45,000 shy of its $100,000 goal for Phase 2 of its incorporation effort.
Save Siesta Key is a non-profit 501(c)(4), so donations are not tax-deductible.
A revised feasibility study, as required by law in the application process for incorporation, has been filed by Save Siesta Key.
You can read a summary, or the entire document, by visiting savesiestakey.org clicking on the “feasibility” tab.