BRADENTON – At Thursday's FY14/15 budget meeting, Manatee County Commissioners voted unanimously to leave the countywide millage rate unchanged at 6.2933, meaning that residents in unincorporated Manatee County would pay a total millage rate of 6.9102. If the proposed budget is adopted in late September, Sheriff Brad Steube will be given $1.2 million in additional funding to hire jail and patrol deputies.
At the county's first budget hearing, county administrator Ed Hunzeker did not have a prepared budget to offer, in light of the sales tax referendum having had failed just prior. Hunzeker revised the earlier proposed FY14/15 budget from $517 million to $520 million to include additional revenues.
Hunzeker's original proposal included hopes of lower property rates using excess monies from the half-cent tax. However, although the millage will remain the same, the accessed property values are going up four percent, creating $1.2 million in additional revenues. The board unanimously voted to put that toward the Sheriff's budget request.
The sheriff would also get approximately half a million dollars in capital costs related to the new personnel, such as cars and equipment according to Hunzeker.
Steube had requested 20 new deputies. The additional funding proposed would pay for an estimated 12 to 13 new employees. "I'm grateful for anything you give me," the Sheriff told the board.
Hunzeker did propose implementing franchise fees on utilities and having unincorporated areas pay more in road patrol costs. The franchise fees would be passed on to consumers via their bills, a sort of hidden tax in which revenue is created via payments by taxpayers, passing through a middle man on its way to county coffers. Hunzeker's defense of the tactic was that most other counties and municipalities have already been doing it.
The final budget has not yet been adopted by the commission and will not be approved until late September. There will be additional budget hearings held September 10 and September 19, 2013.
Budget Items Flagged:
Racquetball Courts Enclosure -- Denied, 7 - 0
John Marble Pool -- To be decided in September
Drug Court Enhancements -- Approved, two positions totaling $87,000
Gateway Beautification Landscape -- Scheduled for a workshop