As expected, the Venice City Council reversed course Tuesday, rescinding its decision last September to take over mobility and park impact fees from Sarasota County.

The Council had created its own fire and police service impact fees earlier and turned its attention to the mobility — road — and park fees so it would be the decision maker about how that money gets spent.

Then, City Attorney Kelly Fernandez reminded the Council members what would be involved in taking over fee collections: a rate study by a consultant; passage of an ordinance; and, probably, hiring someone to handle the accounting and reporting requirements.

The consensus at one of the Council’s strategic planning sessions last month was to drop the idea. The Council made it official Tuesday.

Vice Mayor Rich Cautero said that in September the Council members didn’t have a full understanding of what they were approving. Not being able just to adopt the county’s program made starting one for the city complex and time-consuming, he said.

Mayor John Holic suggested that the city try to amend its agreement with the county about the fees to require that both the Council and the County Commission approve expenditures.

“I think it will force more cooperation between the governments, rather than feel like Big Brother is looking over our shoulder,” he said.

The mobility agreement only requires the Council’s consent to money being spent outside the city. The parks agreement requires notice but not consent.

Fernandez said that mutual consent to all expenditures was a city request when the mobility agreement was renegotiated a couple of years ago but all the county was willing to concede was the provision about out-of-city spending.

She added that she’d be happy to raise the point again.

Holic reminded his colleagues of Commission Chair Charles Hines’ pledge at the previous Council meeting to reopen the lines of communication between the city and the county.

Based on that, Holic said, it would be worth approaching the county again.

Council Member Jeanette Gates was skeptical that the result would be different this time.

“It’s a good idea,” she said, “but it probably won’t work.”


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