BRADENTON -- At Tuesday's Special Budget Meeting, Manatee County Commissioners viewed the proposed budget changes with the opportunity to flag what each commissioner thought was acceptable and what was not. Public Safety; Public Works; and Neighborhood Services were all subjects on the work session agenda.
The meeting started out with a three-page handout. The first two were a list of changes funded in the new 2015 budget, the third page was projects to be determined (TBD).
Manatee County EMS Director Ron Koper started the work session thanking the commission for funding $130,000 for the 911 hardware and equipment replacement in the budget. "We need to move to the next generation that supports text, email and video," said Koper. "We need hardware and software that communicates with other equipment capable of recording and mapping."
Koper then moved to page three, where there were three TBD public safety items listed. Koper stated the need for additional funds to add three paramedic personnel who could cover shifts that overtime now covers. Koper's other requests were two additional emergency communication personnel and four peak-hour ambulance personnel working 12 hour shifts; all totaling to an additional $523,880.
Animal Services also falls under Koper's umbrella, but commissioners and Koper agreed to take a "wait and see" approach before they determine what kind of budget will be needed.
Public Works was next, adding to the budget $440,000 in new funding for stormwater security, pond maintenance and sidewalk replacement and maintenance.
Sage Kamiya, Deputy Director for Traffic Management, and Traffic Operations Division Manager Aaron Burkett thanked the commission for the funding, then delivered a presentation on roadway lighting.
In FY '13 the operational and maintenance (O&M) cost for the 1,253 street lights was $595,448. All O&M lighting costs are funded through the Transportation Trust Fund.
Kamiya and Burkett's presentation addressed the cost of going countywide with lighting. Currently, Manatee County has five municipal street lights per square mile.
To cover the 330 center line miles of county thoroughfares (approximately 19 lights per sq. miles, and an additional 18,940 utility fixtures to cover the 947 center line miles of County maintained local and residential roadways), it would cost $74 million in installation expenses and a recurring annual O&M cost of $2.4 million.
Department heads and commissioners agreed that certainly not all roads need or should be lit, but the research helps to put a price on the percentage that will get street lights, if and when funding becomes available.
The work session ended with a report on the county libraries. Cheri Coryea, Neighborhood Services Department Director, reported on the libraries and the request for an additional $675,552 to increase the hours and days county libraries are open to the public.
Coryea wants the hours to return to the 56 hours a week the county supported in 2012 -- from the 48 hours a week currently -- and bring back the four hours libraries were open on Sundays. Coryea says they are now full, with waiting lines sometimes 30 people deep to use computers, adding, "Meeting rooms stay booked-up."
Wednesday's Budget Work Session will include presentations by Constitutional Officers. It starts at 1:30 p.m., and Sheriff Brad Steube will kick it off in the BOCC chambers before it will move to the 4th floor Manatee Room.
There will be a public budget hearing from 6-8 p.m. in the BOCC chambers on Thursday evening.
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