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Check Out the 2013 Special Election Voting Guide!



For those who have not participated in early voting, Tuesday marks the Manatee County Special Referendum Election. There will be two questions put to voters asking whether they would like to implement a half-cent sales tax to maintain current indigent healthcare spending levels beyond 2015 and whether they would like to add property tax abatements to the incentives currently available to businesses locating or expanding in Manatee County. Check out The Bradenton Times' exclusive voter guide to get informed on both issues.


TBT Editorial: County Failed to Make Case on Half-Penny Sales Tax

On Tuesday, Manatee County voters will decide on two important referendums that will have significant impacts on the tax base. The first is a measure to implement an additional half-cent sales tax which would replace current funding for indigent healthcare from a different source, soon to expire. While the measure would benefit certain interests, we find several aspects very troubling and do not feel that it would make for good policy.


TBT Editorial: County Also Fails to Make Case for Tax Abatement Referendum

Tuesday's referendum vote on tax abatements is a difficult measure to support. The Bradenton Economic Development Corporation, a public/private partnership that promotes business growth in Manatee County, is championing the policy as a job creator. However, Manatee County already has a model incentive program that provides for a rare level of accountability too often absent in such matters. We feel that blanket, up-front abatements have great potential to drain the tax base without providing adequate measurement or accountability in terms of results.


Muddling Manatee's Healthcare Sales Tax Issue

To the casual observer – or even the more astute one – it would be easy to get the impression that on June 18, Manatee County voters will be deciding whether or not to give themselves a property tax cut. But that's just the most common misconception regarding the upcoming referendum, an event that has already been swaddled in enough falsehoods and half-truths to make a politician blush. In fact, several already have.



Healthcare Sales Tax a Bad Deal for Manatee County

Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker has once again introduced another new tax, this time a half-cent sales tax to pay for indigent healthcare services. This tax comes in addition to the new stormwater, EMS and franchise taxes that are all being pushed on Manatee County residents. The county says that a referendum could be scheduled as early as June, right about the time that many residents are engaged in summer travel.


Big Money Behind Pro Sales Tax Ads is Tied to Local Hospitals

Manatee County has been blanketed with signs, direct mail and other advertisements promoting the half-cent sales tax referendum, which goes before voters on June 18. So far, virtually all of the campaigning traces back to a group called Healthy Manatee, which has come under fire for incorrectly advertising that a vote for the sales tax is a vote for property tax cuts. Little was known of the group prior to yesterday's release of their first campaign finance report.


EDC Funding Pro Tax Abatement Campaign

Driving through Manatee County, you've undoubtedly seen ads urging "Vote Yes for New Jobs Now!" regarding the upcoming June 18 special election in which voters will decide via referendum whether to authorize the use of property tax abatements as a business incentive. The funding for the campaign has come almost exclusively from the Bradenton Economic Development Corporation, a public/private partnership that would use the incentives in their efforts to lure businesses to the county.


Health Care Sales Tax Would Be Boon for Big Business

On Tuesday, the Manatee County Commission will again vote on a date for the proposed referendum on adding a half-cent sales tax to fund indigent care programs. The convoluted plan would replace funding that is set to expire from county proceeds in the sale of Manatee Memorial with the sales tax revenues, while promising to lower property taxes. It's advertised as revenue neutral, but when one considers the savings for commercial enterprises – who don't pay sales tax – it can be seen as a massive shift of cost burden.


Gallen Voices Concerns of “Misleading the Public” on Healthcare Sales Tax

Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen has sent two emails to County Administrator Ed Hunzeker regarding concerns that citizens are being misled regarding the June 18 referendum to add a half-cent sales tax to fund indigent healthcare programs. Gallen cited direct mail, videos and text being disseminated by a group calling itself Healthy Manatee, as well as the county's own materials, to illustrate how easily voters could erroneously get the impression that a vote for the referendum equates to a vote for property tax cuts.


Readers Express Contempt for Healthcare Sales Tax

Reader comments regarding the upcoming special election on a half-cent sales tax to fund county healthcare programs have shown overwhelming disdain for both the plan and the way it is being presented. Here's a sampling of some of the more insightful responses we've received to recent coverage of the issue.


Do Tax Abatement Incentives Live Up to the Promises?

In addition to deciding whether or not to impose an extra half-cent healthcare sales tax, Manatee County voters will also decide on whether to create tax abatement incentives when they go to the polls for a two-referendum special election on June 18. Proponents argue that it's a necessary tool to lure jobs to Manatee; but too often, it's been unclear whether such programs actually return more than they give away.


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