BRADENTON -- Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown and town manager Bruce St. Denis humbly came before the Manatee County Board of Commissioners Tuesday to get some help. They were asking for funds up to the amount of $76,500 to assist the need for law enforcement and marine patrol in the Manatee County side of Longboat Key. After cleaning up the channel and beach at Beer Can Island, beach traffic has almost doubled. The two had hoped the WCIND (West Coast Island Navigation District) funds would be available to offer some relief to the rising costs.
The Manatee County Commission said that presently, there wasn't that much left in the fund and it would be unlikely they could find funding elsewhere. Commissioners sympathized, but feared setting precedents for other incorporated parts of the county. They let it be known that if any assistance was given, it would be a one- time only event. Commissioner John Chappie, whose district includes the Manatee portion of the island, was going to bat for Longboat, but Manatee's budget was crying a little louder. Commissioner Carol Whitmore reminded everyone that the new sheriff's station was not more than 100 yards from Beer Can Island, and that should help with the need for officers present both on the ground and in the water.
The parties agreed that they all need to work together and maybe find some resolve. That led to suggestions of partial funding. Commissioner Joe McClash made a motion to offer $30,000 to their cause. Commissioner Donna Hayes, who opposed the measure, said to Mayor Brown, "You mentioned priorities," and added "that is just what we are doing, I suggest you do the same." The partial funding passed at $30,000 on a 4-3 vote with Commissioners, Gallen, DiSabatino and Hayes dissenting. I asked the Mayor what he thought. "We have a great relationship with the county," answered Brown, "and although a little disappointed, you have to take what you can get."
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