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Lakewood Ranch Continues Incorporation Bid with Presentation by Dr. Hank Fishkind


LAKEWOOD RANCH --The Lakewood Ranch Civic Action Forum is inviting residents to attend a presentation by Dr. Hank Fishkind, noted economist and author of the Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Feasibility Study. The event will take place on Tuesday, May 25, at 7 p.m., at the Polo Grill Ballroom in the Main Street district of Lakewood Ranch. Dr. Fishkind will discuss the details of the financial feasibility study for the incorporation of Lakewood Ranch. The study document is available online for review prior to the meeting. After the presentation, there will be a cash bar reception in the Polo Grill Lounge, which will offer happy hour prices. Residents can discuss the results with other attendees.

Mainstreet would be the epicenter of the new city

The study claims that incorporation is not only financially feasible and sustainable, but would create significant surpluses, without adding any new taxes for Manatee County residents and without increasing existing taxes any more than they would rise in the current environment. Proponents of incorporation argue that a single unified community would be created and have a unique character and identity. Additional taxing and spending decisions could be made at the local level rather than by county or state governments, and there would be significant opportunities to achieve increasing economies of scale with future growth.

One of the most noted possible changes created would be the birth of a city police force. Lakewood Ranch citizens have long complained that there is not enough of a police presence in the area, especially when a rise in foreclosures and vacant properties spawned a spike in break-ins, beginning in 2008. Currently, the development is policed solely by the Manatee County Sheriff's Department, which has been stretched thin by years of unincorporated expansion and tight budgets. Once incorporated, the new city could either continue under the Sheriff's current patrol, pay for additional services from new taxes, or create and finance their own local force.

Although the progress of the incorporation process has been widely publicized for the past year, additional communication is being sought, since the preliminary study phase has been completed. A resident meeting was held in February to discuss the draft charter, and the financial feasibility study was completed on April 20. If incorporated, the city would have a five-member, council-style government, with a mayor elected by council members. The group plans additional community meetings with residents and businesses in the next few months.


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