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Sarasota County offers free tax aid

Sarasota County offers free tax aid

Sarasota, Florida - Sarasota County is offering free tax aid to help residents file for valuable tax credits.

Free tax aid is available at locations throughout Sarasota County for quick filing of federal individual income tax returns at AARP tax aid sites and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites.

Residents who earned $49,000 or less last year can use the VITA tax aid sites inSarasota County. There are no income limits or age limits at the AARP sites. This service is not for business returns or complex tax issues.

The United Way of Sarasota County will operate eight VITA sites (six in Sarasota County) as part of a coordinated effort between the United Way's Financial StabilityPartnership and the Sarasota County Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Task Force. The goal is to help ensure that residents who are eligible for the various tax credits receive their earned share. The other 10 tax aid sites will be operated by the AARP foundation.

Giveaways this week for credit union opening

Giveaways this week for credit union opening

Sarasota, FL -- Achieva Credit Union held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new, full-service Sarasota branch this morning.

The branch, located at 1852 Hillview Street, in Sarasota, just south of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, has grand opening festivities planned for this week.

Each day will have a different theme with prize wheel giveaways, gift certificates, food and beverages, and a grand prize drawing of an iPad will be made on Saturday, Feb. 5 at noon.

City Hall's drive-thru hours changing

City Hall's drive-thru hours changing

North Port, FL -- Starting at the end of this month, on January 31, 2011, the City Hall "drive-thru hours" will be changing, according to the City's website.  After several months of monitoring the activity, it was decided that keeping the drive-thru open in the early and late hours was no longer necessary. The increase in on-line payments since this service has been offered is another reason the hours will be shortened. 

In an effort to be more efficient with staffing, the hours will now be Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  These are the same hours that customers can make payments inside of City Hall.  Customers making Utilities payments as well as other City payments can still use the night drop located at the corner of the drive-thru lane after hours. 

Questions may be directed to the Cashiering office at (941) 429-7122.

Sarasota man appeals his Ponzi-scheme conviction

Sarasota man appeals his Ponzi-scheme conviction

TAMPA, Florida (AP) -- A Sarasota man is appealing his conviction for a running a $37 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded nearly 200 people.

The attorney for 32-year-old Beau Diamond filed a two-page notice of appeal with the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Monday.

Local bank merger

Local bank merger

Venice, FL -- A new deal involving a local bank may be a sign of more to come in the banking industry.

According to the Herald-Tribune, on Wednesday, Dec. 22, Hancock Holding Co. spent $1.5 billion in stock for Whitney Holding Corporation. Whitney Holding Corp. is based in New Orleans but has six offices in Manatee County with $201.5 million in deposits.

Southwest Florida is new territory for Hancock Bank, which now has 35 offices in the Panhandle and Central Florida that holds $1.7 billion in deposits.

Whitney had a loan production office in Sarasota, a trust office in Venice, and bought the 1st National Bank of Manatee in Bradenton in 2006.  

On Dec.

Venice City Council plans budget cuts

Venice City Council plans budget cuts

Venice, Florida -- Venice City Council is making strategic plans to cut and balance the city budget. Mayor John Holic and City Manager Isaac Turner are leading efforts to tackle better budget planning and eliminating deficit-spending heading into the new year.

With a very ambitious to-do list laid out with predominantly financial goals, the council members will meet on a weekly basis starting next month. In addition to balancing the budget, goals of the council in 2011 include hiring a new police chief, resolving airport issues, and rewriting land development codes to match the city's growth plan.

Slashing the budget will mean everything from fewer advisory boards to lengthening the amount of time city cars are used before they are replaced, as well as reviewing the city's health insurance policy.

Window-making company PGT to create 400 jobs in Venice

Window-making company PGT to create 400 jobs in Venice

Venice, FL - Hurricane-resistant windows and doors aren't the only thing that Venice company PGT, Inc. is creating lately. They're creating jobs, too. After pledging to add 300 new positions in the next six months, and an additional 100 over time, PGT's announcement will mark the biggest single stride in job growth in the region since the onset of the recession.

Sarasota County government has supported the initiative with various incentives, some estimated at around $1 million, and are pleased to see unemployment numbers declining in the area.

Although the new openings will account for less than 1% of those out of work in the area, the announcement is a positive step. The 400 new jobs are bringing hope to the unemployed in the Venice community, as well as government officials.