Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker’s $517 million fiscal year 2014-15 budget proposal, made to commissioners May 30, was always dependent on the results of a June special referendum.
After voters rejected a half-percent sales-tax increase to fund indigent health care, Hunzeker revealed a revised $520 million 2014-15 fiscal year budget at a Manatee County Board of County Commissioners meeting today.
Acting on Hunzeker’s recommendation, commissioners unanimously voted to keep the 2014-15 millage rate the same as it is today — 6.2933 mills for property owners in incorporated areas and 6.9102 mills for unincorporated property owners.
Alhough the rates are the same, homeowners will pay more in property taxes due to a roughly 4% increase in county property values.
The increased property values will give the county an additional $1.2 million in revenue, which Hunzeker recommended to keep in general-fund reserves.
In a decision that went against Hunzeker’s recommendation, the board unanimously voted to give the $1.2 million to Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube to hire more personnel.
Steube had previously asked for money, which would allow him to hire at least 20 deputies a year until his workforce reaches staffing comparable to others in the region. Hunzeker’s budget did not provide any money for that request.
Commissioners told Steube to use the $1.2 million at his discretion.
Steube said he would use it to hire four deputies to work in the jail. He would hire another eight to nine patrol deputies.
“I appreciate you helping me chipping away at the problem I have,” Steube told commissioners. “This is a good start, and I am grateful for it. Hopefully, we follow it up in future years.”
The sheriff will also get approximately $500,000 in capital costs related to the new hires, such as cars and other equipment.
In his new budget, Hunzeker recommends to remove earlier proposals to implement an electric franchise fee on utilities and to transfer sheriff road-patrol costs to residents in unincorporated areas.
Hunzeker’s original budget proposal featured lower property tax rates.
Hunzeker had said that money raised from a potential sales-tax increase would provide enough revenue for property tax rates to be lowered 25% for incorporated residents and 13% for those who live in unincorporated areas — to 4.7113 mills to 6.0309 mills, respectively.
Hunzeker said he did not have the revenue to do that with the sales-tax increase failing.
The expenditure side of Hunzeker’s new budget stays virtually the same as his previous recommendation.
Manatee County will again operate at a deficit and dip into reserves next fiscal year.
From here, two more public hearings will be held on the budget, one Sept. 10 and the other Sept. 19.
Commissioners will not adopt the budget until later in September.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].