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Does the Manatee County State Delegation Have a Hidden Agenda?


I am writing to clarify misinformation stated by Representative Will Robinson, Senator Jim Boyd, and BOCC Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge and to provide some insight into the hidden agenda believed to be the potential motivation for their strong-arm attempt to consolidate the 3 island cities on Anna Maria Island. We have often heard the phrase “follow the money” when diagnosing political decisions that seemingly defy logic, I believe this to be the case in this consolidation effort.

This overreach of political power began with the debate on the subject of parking and a parking garage in Holmes Beach. The debate was originally between Manatee County Chairman Kevin Van Ostenbridge and the City of Holmes Beach, following a reduction of street parking during the pandemic and following the Manatee County Commission’s closing of the Public Beach and its 400+ beach parking places in Holmes Beach. This period provided the time for the City to evaluate and address a decade of public health and safety concerns which could be improved upon, by no longer providing unlimited beach access parking.

Holmes Beach continues to provide excessive beach parking as documented by the Police Chief, including during peak Holiday periods. The city has clearly marked all available parking spots on site and posts on its website, directions to available spots. Beach Access signs have been installed at all Gulf Drive beach access streets within Holmes Beach.


So many are asking, why? Well, we believe the Delegation is masking the initiative by stating they hope to lower taxes for property owners and provide other efficiencies. In the final meeting with Boyd and Robinson, all three Mayors agreed to support the OPPAGA study to focus on the consolidation of services, not the consolidation of the Cities.

When the notice was received, the order stated they would research the benefits of consolidating the three cities, contrary to the agreement of the three mayors. In the initial meeting with the OPPAGA officials, one of the representatives, we believe, unintentionally disclosed that the City of Bradenton and Manatee County representatives would also be included in the study to determine if the island cities should be annexed into the City of Bradenton or Manatee County. This fact was not disclosed to the Mayors and islanders are left with the risk of becoming governed by the City of Bradenton or possibly the Manatee County Commission, neither of which operate as efficiently as the island cities.

The following are some financial realities that may drive some of the ambitions of those initiating this “Take”, resulting in considerable financial advantage for Bradenton or the county.

1. Holmes Beach has no debt, presently has approximately $12 million dollars in reserves, assigned and unassigned, has lowered its millage rate for two years in a row, has an assessed valuation of $3,165,984,005 and will contribute $6,490,225 in total taxes to Manatee County this year. This financial stability has been funded exclusively by Holmes Beach property owners who enjoy responsive service and a myriad of amenities for residents and visitors alike.

In addition, H.B. Is the single largest contributing city to the Manatee County Bed Tax, through the Tourist Development Fund. In excess of $40 million dollars has been upstreamed to the County by Holmes Beach visitors over the past 12 years with a meager $141,200 approved for its qualified projects in return. It is the Manatee County Commission controlling the allocations,(Consequences threatened by Van Ostenbridge) in spite of the supportive TDC Board recommendations in the past. Stakeholders have asked frequently, why we receive so little in return for what is contributed, I leave the reader to ponder.

2. Online research indicates that Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach also enjoy financial stability.

a.) Anna Maria as of 9/30/21: unrestricted reserves $1,934,693, o/s debt $1,097,345, assessed valuation $2,043,623,664. Contributing total real estate taxes of $4,189,424 in 2024.

 b.) Bradenton Beach as of 9/30/21: unrestricted reserves $1,644,415, no debt, assessed valuation $993,269,201. Contributing total real estate taxes of $2,317,188 in 2024.

3. Collectively, the three island cities comprise an assessed valuation of $6,202,875,875. Total real estate tax proceeds will be $12,996,841 for 2024.

4. Millage rates for 2024:
Anna Maria 2.05%
Holmes Beach. 2.05
Bradenton Beach 2.33
Bradenton 5.77 (includes fire district)
Manatee Co. 4.79
All 3 island city tax bills have an additional moderate assessment for the West Manatee Fire.

5. Both Manatee County and the City of Bradenton have substantial debt outstanding; Information posted online is not current.

Manatee County as of 9/30/21 posted:
Loans $27,780,000
Bonds $330,500,000

The City of Bradenton as of 9/30/20 posted:
Loans $48,378,338
Bonds $77,567,253

A comparison of the financial stability of all three island cities to that of both Manatee County and the City of Bradenton reflects a net positive financial gain to either if consolidation occurs, with a possible dramatic additional tax burden to island property owners by virtue of the comparative millage rates shown above.
All 3 island cities have been incorporated since the early 1950s and have evolved, prospered, and created unique and independent societies with quality-of-life offerings that have drawn owners and visitors worldwide.

Many have stated “We are the Golden Goose” of Manatee County with the concern that such radical change would devalue this island community forever. In addition, there is no reason to believe if consolidation occurs, that taxes paid by islanders will be allocated to maintenance & improvements on the island. The history of the bed tax contributions by Holmes Beach vs. the return on investment to our city provides insight into that concern.

In my opinion, overzealous politicians have initiated a study of futility at the expense of those who have contributed their financial and societal support, establishing and maintaining a haven for relaxation, enjoyment, and peace of mind. I will never believe other political entities (Bradenton or Manatee Co.) could have equaled the accomplishments of a 100-year contribution by those who came before us and the thousands who defend our sovereignty, serve our cities, and thrive here today.

Representative Robinson has stated he believes there will be an insufficient number of citizens to step up and serve our 3 cities, I steadfastly disagree. Holmes Beach continues to enjoy strong civic interest and participation in elected and appointed positions, with all ad-hoc committees fully staffed. Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach each have fair and open processes to fill any open Commissioner seats when vacated and have active ad-hoc committees.

I believe with the substantial value of island properties, there will always be citizens and property owners who are committed to protecting their investments and way of life, by filling the elected or appointed public service needs of our communities.

OPPAGA representatives have indicated that due to budget questions for this study, they have no plan to consult with the island stakeholders, nor are City Referendums a part of the process. I suggest OPPAGA hear your opinions along with voicing your concerns to the Delegation members who have taken this bold and unprecedented anti-home rule action.

Terry Schaefer
Holmes Beach Commissioner


8 comments on this item

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  • misty

    Thank you Commissioner Schaefer. I would like to hear from Representative Robinson and Senator Boyd if they feel you misrepresented or overlooked anything in your Guest Editorial.

    Friday, November 24, 2023 Report this

  • pattybeenutty

    Thank you for actually telling the truth?

    I would like a response from either Boyd or Robinson with facts.

    Friday, November 24, 2023 Report this

  • Dianna

    As a county resident we absolutely do not agree with this overreach of government. We do not want a parking garage and we do not want the islands to be consolidated. What happened to Home Rule? We will remember to thank the crooks Robinson/Boyd/Van Ostenbridge at the ballot box for trying to steal the island away from the citizens so they can change the rules and give it to the developers. We do not want the island cities to be annexed to the City of Bradenton. We don’t want to be like Clearwater beach or any other Pinellas County beach.

    Friday, November 24, 2023 Report this

  • Cat L

    I'm absolutely horrified by what is happening, and the Manatee commissioners are betraying their own community.

    Sunday, November 26, 2023 Report this

  • David Daniels

    Unfortunately, there is not an NPA candidate that all islanders and District 3 residents can unite behind to throw out the corrupt, law breaking KVO, who will most certainly use the $170K of developer money to flood the media and mailboxes bowing to the alter of Trump to win the extreme right uninformed R base. Informed District 3 voters should take the 5 minutes to register as R to vote KVO out in the primary. He is an admitted thief. He thumbs his nose at Sunshine laws, refusing to turn over his county business text messages. He has refused to allow call-in comments to public meetings, then he rudely insults citizens that take time off work to show up - cutting them off, calling them communists. He threatens to use his position to retaliate against Holmes Beach. He was person most responsible for the disaster of Dr Hopes. He voted to remove wetland protections. He rubber stamps every development, clogging our roads, polluting our water, and paving over wildlife. As commissioner Kruse stated, if KVO is reelected (and Satcher and Turner) it will prove that one person (Carlos Beruff, and his $) is more important than 400,000 county residents.

    Sunday, November 26, 2023 Report this

  • bbenac

    Thank you Commissioner Schaefer for your well written editorial. It is important that people understand the facts, and not the rhetoric. It is a power grab-and is likely due to the issues facing Manatee County who has borrowed so much $ in the time of hyper-inflation, and is relying on the multi-Millions they have received from the Federal Government-one time $-to balance their budget. Taking over control of the tax revenues generated from the island cities will allow them to continue to finance their disastrous policies of allowing unplanned, unfunded growth to make the developers happy. Certainly there could be efficiencies through consolidation of services-but that’s not what’s proposed. Just take a look at what will happen if LBK follows through with a bill to leave Manatee County-it would be disastrous to the County revenues-especially the school board. However, you couldn’t blame them for looking out for themselves and their taxpayers, especially with the message they are receiving with these efforts from the County and their partner, the City of Bradenton The county used to fight annexation into the City because of their lax development policies and lack of impact fees-now the County is worse. People need to vote to keep control, not be taken over.

    Sunday, November 26, 2023 Report this

  • WTF

    The most corrupt Board of County Commissioners ever.

    Those up for reelection are in their own club....One and Done

    Worst BOCC EVER !

    "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    Revelation 21:8 ESV

    Monday, November 27, 2023 Report this

  • jayapoppe

    Let's not forget that once Bradenton has control over Anna Maria island or the island has one single governing authority, do you think it won't be easier for developers to control zoning on the island? With control of zoning, develpers will be able to build higher and bigger buildings. Soon AMI wll look like Clearwater. That's following the money as well.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2023 Report this