MANATEE COUNTY — Manatee County officials will continue to identify unnecessary expenses and, for the fourth year in a row, cut the county budget by millions of dollars.
At the first of two required public hearings Sept. 16, county commissioners tentatively shaved $24 million from last year’s budget, eliminating a proposed surtax that would have raised the tax rate by one-tenth — from $6.2993 to $6.3993 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The increase would have raised more than $2 million for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, which now is facing two unfunded state mandates.
Commissioners instead voted to designate $1 million from the county’s budget stabilization fund for the sheriff’s office.
Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube said his agency still will have to cut a few positions or leave a few positions vacant.
“The bottom line is whatever cuts we make will not affect the services out on the road for responding to calls,” he said.
In separate votes, the board adopted a tentative budget of about $483 million as well as budgets for the county’s dependent special districts.
“I feel we did what was best for the community, what was best for residents,” Commissioner Donna Hayes said. “We have a responsibility to use our general funds before we ask the taxpayers (to bear more a greater) burden. We can always revisit the sheriff’s (office) issue at a later time.”
Board members also tentatively approved the five-year Capital Improvements Program. Several East County projects are being funded in 2011, including several improvements to the future Bennett Park. About $478,000 has been set aside for fencing, sidewalks, paving, exotic plant removal/native plant restoration, landscaping and irrigation.
Additionally, $175,000 has been reserved for restrooms at the State Road 64/Braden River boat ramp, and $47,000 for Creekwood Park Tennis Court lighting.
A final public hearing on the budget is set for 6 p.m., Sept. 28 in the commission chambers of the county’s administrative building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. There, the board will make its final vote on the tax millage rate and budget.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.
Countywide Millage Levies
27% — Sheriff’s office (3.9278 mills)
14% — County operations (2.1382 mills)
51% — School board (7.5910 mills)
5% — Other taxing authorities (.6984 mills)
3% — Voted debt/vhildren’s services tax (.4587 mills)
Budget appropriation by function
For originally proposed $486 million budget
Public safety — $135 million (28%)
Culture and recreation — $20 million (4%)
General government — $75 million (16%)
Other — $24 million (5%)
Capital outlay — $44 million (9%)
Transportation — $35 million (7%)
Physical environment — $127 million (26%)
Human services — $26 million (5%)