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Local Government Prevention Programs Dominate County Budget Workshop


BRADENTON -- Few showed up to participate in Thursday's 2013 budget workshop hosted by Manatee County Commissioners and administration officials. Community leaders and residents were asked for their input on the coming year's annual budget recommendations. Prevention and intervention was the theme offered by those who spoke -- to get the biggest bang for the buck is what the county is looking for. All seemed to agree that a penny's worth of prevention equals a dollar's worth of cure. 

No matter how you add it up, Manatee County's proposed $458 million budget for fiscal year 2013 looks good. While many counties struggle to continue needed programs, hold on to valuable employees and keep the bills paid through recent cut-backs, Manatee County seems to have suffered less then most.

It's true, the county government has shrunk 25 percent over the past five years, but their services haven't.  Many counties have been forced to raise taxes, sell bonds and borrow funds to keep essential programs afloat, lowering their credit rating and increasing future finical costs. But Manatee took precautions by maintaining a cash balance revenue of 20 percent and a healthy stabilization fund.

These measures have allowed the county to keep their AAA credit rating, minimize lay-offs and keep public safety a priority. Commissioner McClash said, "It is important we educate the public on all of these issues." He said the commission reexamined every budget fund over the past week in order to secure the reserves and credit rating.

Becky Canesse, Executive Director for, "Just for Girls" was one of two that spoke to the commission. She clearly made her case when asking Naomi, a girls club member, to speak about the life changing success she had found in the "Just for Girls" program. Naomi spoke about how she was once a angry runaway, but found her way out of what was spiraling downward, with the help and guidance from Canesse and her girls club.

Canesse's request was for the commission to uphold the previous approved 1/8 mil (millage rate) for youth substance abuse, which is no longer used in accordance with the voter-approved referendum. " To honor the voters' expressed approval in its passage of the referendum, would impact only 1/2 percent of the county's budget, and would address the state-mandated juvenile detention center funding."

Canesse reminded the commission, "The cost of one day of juvenile detention in Manatee County is $232 while the cost of youth prevention is $11 a day." adding, "Underage drinking alone cost the county approximately $62 million annually. The return on investment is $9.60 for every dollar spent on prevention."

Jennifer Radebach, a member of the Children's Services advisory board reflected all of the same sentiment. She spoke as and educator and as a parent of three, to the importance of making ourselves available to the youth so to insure their future with choices and opportunity. 

Manatee County is as unassured to what the future holds as any other county in the state, and like others, is wrestling to make ends meet. But all-in-all, Manatee is making it work within its means.    


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