Clerk Snubbed Following Letter/IG Audit

Clerk/Comptroller Angel Colonneso
Clerk/Comptroller Angel Colonneso
Dennis "Mitch" Maley
BRADENTON — At a budget work session Monday, Manatee County constitutional officers presented their FY2023 budget requests. Clerk/Comptroller Angel Colonneso's budget request was flagged by two commissioners, leading another board member to question whether the motive had been political.  

Colonneso, whose inspector general division has seen an increase in activity over the past year, had made her largest increase request since taking office in 2016. The clerk/comptroller, whose previous budget was $8.2 million, requested $8.8 million for the coming fiscal year. 

Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes included $8.6 million in his recommended budget. Commissioners Kevin Van Ostenbridge and Vannesa Baugh flagged the item for review.  

Colonneso explained that her office has come in $12,000 under budget this year and $47,000 under over the past two budget years, but that continued population growth (Manatee's population has increased from 338,000 to over 430,000 since she took office) and growth in government has necessitated increases.

Colonneso also noted that the rapid growth in county administration means more resources are needed for the audit function of IG, which improves efficiency, something that is much more critical given the significant amount of reorganization that has occurred under Hopes.

"I don't understand the red flag of a constitutional's budget, which is fine," said County Commissioner Carol Whitmore. "I just hope this is for something we identify, and not all the other noise that's going around. I just want to make sure, because our clerk of the courts is very respected..."

Colonesso's IG department is currently auditing the county's processing of public records requests, which has slowed drastically under Hopes, drawing complaints from the local media and members of the public.

Just ahead of the budget presentations and a vote on extending Hopes' contract, Colonesso also alerted commissioners about serious concerns about possible fiscal improprieties within the county administration under his leadership.

In other presentations, Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett requested an increase from $2.66 million to $2.88 million, which the SOE attributed to inflation and new voting requirements imposed by the legislature in the 2022 session. 

"My staff works very hard to control expenses," Bennett told the board. "But I can't control postage, I can't control printing, I cannot control insurance and retirement benefits."

Bennett also noted that about half of the requested increase had been returned to the county from the amount allocated in the previous budget.
Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells requested $171,703,937. Hopes had recommended $166,326,645 and explained that the discrepancy was owed to a vendor contract that had not been negotiated until that morning, telling commissioners that the previous contract had been entered as a placeholder and that he would be presenting an amendment to his proposal to reflect the change.

Click here to read the presentation packets in their entirety. 

Reader Comments
JUN 15, 2022  •  Of course, the work of Van Ostenbridge and Baugh. What a surprise….NOT! Nothing but revenge tactics - that’s all those two know. You’re either with them or you’re the enemy. Interesting coming from the two who accused Colonneso of playing politics with her letter. Seems like they know how to play the game, too. Colonneso had the guts to speak out for what she thought was right. Colonneso is the example of an elected official serving the people vs. KVO and Baugh, who are nothing but self serving. #IStandWithAngelColonneso
JUN 15, 2022  •  The flagging of the Clerk/Comptroller’s budget request does have more than a whiff of retaliation (which is not legal, not that this has stopped some of these individuals before). This has to be the most corrupt BoCC Manatee County has ever had.