BRADENTON - Despite concern about how the budget was balanced, the City Council on Wednesday night approved a $104.6 million budget in a 5-0 vote.
Mayor Wayne Poston said he was worried about the city holding the line on its millage rate of 4.2843, saying the city has no choice but to raid its savings account in the event of a "surprise" like a natural disaster.
"This budget is more than bare bones," he said.
The council approved the millage rate 5-0.
Taking the tax rate to the rollback rate of 4.6758 would cost the owner of a home valued at $150,000 about $40 a year, Poston said. "I've said it's the most responsible way to go," he noted, and speakers during citizen comments agreed.
Still, Councilman Patrick Roff noted, his ward is full of foreclosed homes and he said a friend of his has talked about just walking away from her house because she can't afford the payments any more, and that a tax increase would just be the wrong move.
Dave Matthews of Bradenton said he moved to the city three years ago and believed that the council should spend more on the Police Department.
"I thought I was moving to a nice place, and now I'm wondering if it's a good idea," he said. "The most important thing is the protection of the citizens."
Councilman Gene Gallo pointed out that the city is stuck.
"We're in a squeeze box. Everything is important to everybody," he said. "We just don't feel that the citizens of Bradenton feel that way."
While citizens may feel unsafe due to the reports of crimes and murders, the city has a problem in that crimes in the county are often attributed to the city. Manatee County has had 27 murders so far this year, said Police Chief Michael Radzilowski, but only four of them have been in the city. Arrests have been made in all those cases and prosecutions are in the works, he said.
After the vote, City Clerk Carl Callahan said, "It's been a long process. It's not been a fun process. We're hoping for better times fairly quickly."
Extinguishing the rumors
City Public Works director Claude Tankersley spoke before the meeting ended, and said that there is absolutely no truth to the stories being spread that there are moves afoot to privatize trash pickup.
Someone has been spreading the story and causing grief and fear among his staff, Tankersley said. "The next time you hear it, tell him to shut his mouth," he said.
He vowed to stand up for public delivery of water, sewer and solid waste services.
"I will fight," he said. "I will put my job on the line."
Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey said she had been getting calls from people saying "Please don't privatize my garbage," she said.
Roff said he also got calls from worried citizens. "That decision will never be brought up while I'm on council," he vowed.
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