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Manatee Voters May See Referendum to Increase Bonding Capacity for Environmental Land Acquisitions on Nov. Ballot


On Thursday, Manatee County Commissioners voted unanimously to have staff draft a referendum to be put to voters in November, asking to increase the bond limit for the county's environmental land conservation tax.

In 2020, Manatee County overwhelmingly approved an additional .15 mil property tax to fund the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands so that they would be kept from development. The tax currently generates $6-7 million per year at a cost of around $45 per year for the average home. However, the referendum limited the amount that could be bonded in advance on those tax funds to $50 million. The county says it has already bonded around $35 million.

Commissioner George Kruse, who requested the item be on Thursday's agenda, said the limit is preventing the county from moving on some key properties as they become available.

"We approved this environmental land tax in 2020," said Kruse, "and I said the minute that I got on this board, the ballot resolution was terribly written. The math didn't work.

"The millage we were charging compared to what we put in as maximum bonding just didn't make logical sense. I mean, capping us at $50 million when we were charging .15 mil was ludicrous, and it allowed for too much of this money to flow out for other things."

Kruse said that the timing to get it on the ballot was tight. He said there is an Aug. 19 deadline, and that it takes about 90 days for staff to draft a resolution for the referendum.

"We're seeing a lot of great opportunities, but they're large opportunities," said Kruse. "These aren't $1-2 million, little parcels. These are Crooked River. These are Emerson Point, and now we're dealing with a situation with Rattlesnake Key and we're stuck ..."

Kruse stressed that, if passed, the referendum would not impact taxpayers.

"It’s not a single cent of additional tax," Kruse said. "It’s not changing the millage. All it’s doing is giving us more capacity."

The vote passed 5-0 with Commissioner Jason Bearden absent. Commissioners Amanda Ballard, Mike Rahn, and Ray Turner signaled support for Kruse's request. Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge said that while he would vote in favor of having staff get started on the draft, he would need to be briefed by staff before deciding whether he could support the measure when it returned to the board for a final vote.


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  • igobye3959

    Of course KVO wouldn’t take a position. Guess he wants to wait for instructions from his handlers

    Saturday, May 4 Report this

  • spiceyar

    Once this land is developed, we cannot reclaim it. If you've ever walked through our parks, conservation areas you'll appreciate the real Florida...it's magnificent!!

    Sunday, May 5 Report this

  • WTF

    Two choices

    1. Get it from the 40.00 inspection back-flow fee we get ripped off for every year.

    2. Put it in the impact fee for new development as a environmental land conservation fee. Let THEM pay the way for the thousands of acres they raped in the name of progress. Let new development pay for it!

    The county has almost a billion dollars in surplus and pissed away millions of Federal CARES and ARP monies. When the county becomes good stewards of the current monies then I would consider. I will not vote for a new tax. Middle class are strapped in just trying to stay afloat. I have lived here over 40 years and have enjoyed our local parks.

    Sunday, May 5 Report this

  • sandy

    WTF This is NOT a new tax. The millage will not be raised. It is just increasing the amount that can be bonded. It will just raise the cap.

    Monday, May 6 Report this

  • kmskepton

    On the surface this seems to make sense; as such, I am confused. This board does not make decisions in the interest of the county so I want to know what their angle is? Is it something as simple as, "election time is almost upon us?"

    Monday, May 6 Report this