Manatee County businesses have been blessed with a terrific 2012 tourist season experiencing a 13% increase in economic impact to the county during the first quarter of the year. Although many have been skeptical of when a positive economic climate is expected, there are strong indicators that businesses are moving to Manatee County. As business increases, there will be a need for housing and development.
As a longtime resident of Manatee County, I have become accustomed to tourism, budgets and economic fluctuations. As a business owner, this commissioner has always supported business. I feel pleased to have had the opportunity to serve as a Manatee County commissioner during a period of economic change with the need for jobs.
As I meet and visit, the subject of jobs and economic opportunities surfaces as the No. 1 concern among constituents and their families. I have always kept in mind, “Is this good for business?”
One of many future challenges will be to entice graduates to reside and raise their families in Manatee County, but I am confident that our students will return to Manatee County as we expand the business community.
During the next few months, Manatee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will face the challenge of approving the second half of the 2012-2013 budget. The county works on a two-year budget plan, but the second-year budget is addressed to ascertain we are on target with any changes or needs that may have come forth during the year.
This year, many changes have occurred that affect our county. We will be addressing a $3.1 million expense as Medicaid costs are shifted to the counties from the state of Florida. This issue is being challenged, but we still must prepare for the costs. Property taxes have been reduced $4 million. These items and others must be reflected in the next budget.
Ed Hunzeker, county administrator, has presented a workable budget of $458,131,802. As the budget workshop process moves forward, many changes may be made. However, we must bear in mind that any expenditure added to a program will result in another program reduction.
I urge and encourage constituents to come forth with your recommendations. I would ask you for your input during June and July meetings. The next budget meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at the county administrative chamber’s first floor. I encourage you to attend. Two public hearings will be held in September.
Many times, folks address the budget in September, which in many cases is too late for the commission to react. Please email your concerns over the next two months so we may ask staff to address the issue. It was encouraging to learn May 31, that no new millage taxes are planned for 2013.
As a conservative, I have never voted for a millage increase, nor sales tax affecting constituents, without a public referendum during my tenure on the commission. I foresee no change in my position. Layoffs are not planned, and employee benefits are being restructured in order to provide compensation for county employees. I am comfortable supporting this budget as submitted to the commissioners.
With the previous being stated, you can clearly understand the importance of having a County Commission that works for your best interests and has a history of long-term commitment and ownership in Manatee County. Yes, we must follow policy and Florida statutes but all seven of us vote on the same agenda items that affect your everyday lives.
In January, I announced that I will not be seeking re-election to the Board of County Commissioners. My supporters were not overly surprised because I had stated in the beginning that I would probably only serve for eight years. I have fulfilled that commitment, and I believe in term limits.
Because I have resided here for more than 30 years, I can attest to fact that District 5 (East Manatee) has certainly changed in a positive manner. Growing pains have been a major issue and that will continue.
On Aug. 14, please be sure to vote for County Commissioner, District 5. Early voting is available starting Aug. 1, at the Supervisor of Elections Office, or you may request an absentee ballot by calling the elections office at 741 3823.
Donna Hayes, District 5, is a Manatee County Commissioner.