New twist in
In yet another left turn in the ongoing discussion of whether to take over maintenance of previously annexed county roads, Venice City Council on Tuesday indicated it wants a more thorough discussion of the issues, and the history.
During a joint meeting with Sarasota County commissioners last week, council nearly agreed to take the roads back a la carte. Cautiously, council decided it would address the issue within a month.
On Tuesday, City Attorney Bob Anderson raised a new issue, which raised more questions: It appears the county is asking the city to take over maintenance responsibility for more miles of pavement than relates to the original 2006 annexation agreement.
He also defended the annexation agreement he helped negotiate, saying the issue of road maintenance was never raised.
“These are county roads that they have an obligation to maintain,” Anderson said. “Now they’ve requested the (city) take this 12 miles of roads and the responsibility for maintenance. The only justification is, ‘You should have taken them as part of the annexation.’ The decision sinks or swims on the validity of that justification.”
Anderson said his interpretation of state law is that it doesn’t require enclave property annexations to also mean annexations of the roadways adjacent to those properties.
“[J]ustification can’t come from the annexation,” he said. “It just doesn’t link. If they have no justification, [it’s] just a request. You have to ask yourselves why would we do that?
“The only thing the county has given as justification was ‘You pulled a fast one.’ If you examine that, you will find that argument doesn’t hold water.”
To prove his point, Anderson asked the city to overlay the 118 properties annexed in 2006 over the 12 miles of roads on the island the county wants the city to take responsibility for maintaining.
What you will find, he said, is there’s lots more roadway the county is requesting the city maintain than was annexed.
It’s like taking one annexed property on one road, Anderson said, and asking the city to take over maintenance for the entire road.
“A lot of what they want to transfer is not adjacent to any property, but that’s been their justification from day one,” Anderson said.
“You haven’t been given the full story. You need to have that information before you accept that 12 miles of roadway.”
Mayor John Holic said he, too, was looking into the history of the enclaves annexation and came away with a number of perspectives.
Council directed city staff to dig up a more thorough history of the issue and get a better financial accounting of what it will cost the city to maintain the roads and a better explanation for the county’s request.
While council members appear to remain committed to putting the issue to rest, it’s uncertain what the final resolution will look like.
“I urge council to separate the facts from emotion,” Holic said. “We almost make a tremendous mistake at the joint meeting. We can’t afford to make that mistake.”
Council will address the issue at its next meeting in two weeks.