BRADENTON -- Council of Government Meeting Results 4/3/2012
1. Call to order -- Commissioner John Chappie
2. Port of Manatee Update -- Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras briefly recited the enhancements the port offers to the region. He said, "What we are doing is growing the economic engine for the region." He said that the key to our prosperity lies offshore, with customers from all over the world. Buqueras added, "Brazil is our number one customer and 80 percent of our business will be north to south/south to north hemisphere transport." He said all of the cities to the south of us had us in their sights to bring them business.
3. How 2-1-1 is Serving Our Community -- United Way 2-1-1 Manasota Executive Director Jessica Ventimiglia reviewed the more than 600 services they have ready and waiting for those who are in need of help. Their referrals cover almost any situation from where to get food, find a place to sleep, help with a utility bill, get assistance with an injury, find a dentist, go through a foreclosure and many more.
Last year they answered 19,463 calls supplying more than 23,000 referrals to those seeking information. She said most of the calls from Manatee were for housing and utilities, while the calls from Sarasota were mostly for food.
4. Hurricane 101 for Elected Officials -- Laurie Feagans from Public Safety laid out protocols for many different situations. She reminded us of how important it is to have our emergency packets together in case of an evacuation. She emphasized the necessity of having a photo identification, a utility bill and anything else that would prove where one lives in order to get back in the neighborhood after the evacuation. Feagans also reminded us we are among the first counties to have pet friendly shelters, so no one should hold out leaving because they don't want to leave their pet behind.
5. Community Recreation Areas -- In response to Commissioner Michael Gallen's request to try and open schools, parks and other county facilities to the youths that need a place to exercise, play and avoid finding trouble, Cindy Turner and staff at Parks and Recreation put together a catalog including all schools, parks and facilities that might help accomplish that goal.
6. Legislative Update -- Nicholas Azzara, from Information Outreach briefed officials on the recent adopted and rejected bills that went before legislators in the past session. He said the legislature passed a $70 billion budget; that the numeric nutrient bill passed, allowing the state to deter from having EPA's standards, and that House Bill 5301 passed, pushing some of the cost of Medicaid back on to the counties. The amount of cost that will come back to Manatee County as a result will be between three and four million dollars. He added that online sales tax reform failed, internet cafe regulations failed and the bill to privatize prisons failed.
7. Comments -- Commissioner Joe McClash wanted to work with the School Board to find out how many children aren't capable of reading while advancing through school. He said, "not being able to read is nearly a jail sentence." He wants the School Board to look into the matter, adding, "it is embarrassing to the county when that happens."
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