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Manatee Port Authority Avidly Opposing Consolidation


PALMETTO -- Florida legislators want to know what would happen if our ports were to consolidate, but he Manatee Port Authority says they don't want to have anything to do with it. Board members say they have a plan that is going well. They want to send a message to the governor, the legislature and any lobbyist who might think differently.


During the 2013 Florida legislative session, members considered a bill directing a statewide study to evaluate the feasibility of consolidating port districts and authorities. At Thursday's Manatee Port Authority meeting, members sharply opposed any idea of consolidation, and unanimously voted for a resolution that would protect the port from such action.


"We are becoming a premier port and have hundreds of jobs coming now," said Commissioner Michael Gallen, adding, "I see the port as a job incubator for the county."


Commissioner Robin DiSabatino said, "It is upsetting that they could turn everything upside down (referring to the governor's past support to have the local government maintain control over the port)."


Commissioner Betsy Benac said, "We are in competition with the other ports. We are going after the same grants."


Stanley Riggs, president of PMCC, was asked to weigh in on the concept of consolidation. Riggs said, "Consolidation is redistribution of opportunity. When a ship sinks, and you are the strong swimmer, you don't get near other people."


Members voted unanimously to adopt the resolution to oppose consolidation and send that message straight to Tallahassee.


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