FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE REFERENDUM
ON THE BALLOT – GENERAL ELECTION
Q: “What Is The *Exact* Wording of the Referendum That Will Be on The Ballot November 6? “
SARASOTA COUNTY GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS FOR LEGACY TRAIL EXTENSION WITH ENHANCED SAFETY AND CONNECTIONS
To acquire and improve The Legacy Trail Extension railroad corridor as a safe trail for walking, running, and cycling with enhanced connectivity from North Port through Venice to downtown Sarasota, with additional improvements including safe crossings, overpasses, amenities, and increased accessibility, shall Sarasota County issue General Obligation bonds, not exceeding the maximum lawful interest rates, maturing within 20 years from each issuance, not exceeding $65 million payable from ad valorem taxes restricted to these purposes?
Q: “Isn’t The Legacy Trail Extension a ‘Done Deal?’ When Will We Be Able to Use It?”
No money is available to Extend The Trail. Approval of the referendum will provide funds to make The Trail Extension to downtown Sarasota and connection to North Port a reality.
Q: “Why Extend The Legacy Trail?”
Enhances Quality of Life and Property
- Promotes healthy lifestyles for all ages by providing an attractive and safe place to walk, run, skate, cycle, explore local nature, commute to jobs or run errands.
- Converts an unused, overgrown rail corridor to a well-used recreational and commuting trail, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality.
- Connects existing neighborhood trails and other on-road bike lanes.
- Promotes local economic activity by stimulating tourism, raising area home values, promoting healthy lifestyles for all ages, and reducing employee healthcare costs as reflected in many studies.
Improves Safety for Cyclists, Walkers, Runners and Skaters.
- Supports the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, creating safe and convenient ways for children to walk or bicycle to school and promotes daily physical activity. There are 27 schools within one linear mile of the Trail and 45 schools within two linear miles.
- Provides nearly 30 miles of continuous non-motorized, paved, multi-use trail links between communities and amenities.
Q: “How Will the Extension Be Paid For if The Referendum Passes?”
- County will borrow money in the form of bonds that will be paid back over 20 years.
- Cost per household is just $8 / year for each $100,000 assessed home value (not market value) for up to 20 years, assuming County bonds for the max $65M. Availability of non-county funds (e.g. FDOT) would reduce the need for borrowing and lower household cost.
Q: “Why doesn’t the county just take the railroad corridor by Eminent Domain?”
- The landowners must still be compensated under eminent domain. With the deal currently negotiated we are getting the land at a 13% discount from appraised value. So we are actually getting the land cheaper by buying it from CSX.
- The legal issues are complex. The outcome of an attempt to take the land by eminent domain is uncertain and legal costs would be substantial.
Q: “What Will Happen Once the Referendum Passes?”
- It gives the county approval to borrow money needed to complete the project.
- It is estimated that it will be just 5 years before the trail extension is completed.
- The County will:
- Buy and pave the existing railroad right-of-way to Payne Park / Fruitville Road
- Build Bridges over Clark and Bee Ridge Roads
- Add Parking Areas / Trailheads, Rest Stops / Rest Rooms
- Landscape the Trail (Trees / Flowers)
- Add Connector to North Port / Warm Mineral Springs via Deer Prairie Creek Preserve (exact route to be determined – see map)
Funds from Referendum may be used only to extend The Trail & connect to North Port.