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County Kicks Off Budget Process


BRADENTON – Manatee County property tax rates remain unchanged in the $527 million budget proposal Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker delivered to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. Next year’s proposed budget is about $7.8 million more than the current year’s budget but remains about $63.6 million less than it was at its peak in 2007.

No programs have been eliminated in the proposal and less will be used from the county's budget stabilization fund. The budget was aided by property values that rose approximately 6.8 percent, more than double what was predicted at last year’s two-year budget rollout. The proposal calls for the millage rate to remain at 6.2993 mills for total countywide operating millage.

Still, Hunzeker reminded the board that they remained in the red.

“It is very important to remember that we are operating at a deficit," said Hunzeker, "which means that the budget for programs supported by property taxes and general revenue is spending more money than we are taking in."

Big-ticket items in next year's budget includes funding for compensation increases for county employees and for new capital projects such as a new public safety radio system. The new network will replace decades-old radio equipment and will be integrated with Sarasota County, with each paying for half of the approximately $35 million cost.

The system will allow state and local services such as fire and EMS to communicate between the counties, which has become increasingly important as development continues on the east-end border of the two neighboring counties. A computer-aided dispatch (CAD) infrastructure and other technology upgrades are also in the proposal.

“This budget recommendation will renew our efforts to step up capital investment, while creating jobs and taking advantage of low reasonable construction costs and interest rates,” Hunzeker said.

On Wednesday, the board received a Fund Summary Review. The presentation provided a summary of the county’s major financial funds. The county’s financial structure is made up of approximately 150 funds, each of which is a self-balancing entity, and is created for legal compliance, accountability requirements, or both.

Next Tuesday the board will hold its Decision Unit Review from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the Manatee Room on the 4th Floor of the County Administration Building.

Then on Wednesday, the Constitutional Officers’ budget review will be held from 1:30–5 p.m., in the BOCC chambers. Commissioners will review proposed budgets for Manatee Sheriff’s Office, Manatee Property Appraiser’s Office, the Supervisor of Elections’ Office, Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office and the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller’s Office.

On Thursday, they'll be back in the Manatee Room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) presentation.

The first public budget hearing will be held on Thursday June 12 from 6–8 p.m. in the BOCC chambers. A Special Meeting on Budget Reconciliation and the adoption of a tentative millage rate will be held on Wednesday July 30 from 1:30-5 p.m. in the BOCC chambers, then two additional public hearings will be held in September, before the final 2014-15 budget is officially adopted.


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