CORIE HOLMES, Democrat
BIRTHPLACE: Manatee County
FAMILY: My mother is a resident of the city of Palmetto and longtime resident of north Palmetto area. My father was also a longtime resident of north Palmetto area. He now resides in South Carolina. I have five siblings: an older brother, older sister, and three younger sisters.
EDUCATION: I received a degree from the Law Enforcement Police Academy at Hillsborough Community College.
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: I have 17 years of combined criminal justice experience to include: corrections, law enforcement, and criminal/civil investigator.
FUN FACT: I like running, camping, and hunting
Manatee County has committed $5.1 million through 2018 to subsidize expected new-job creation among Manatee businesses. What is your position on spending tax dollars to subsidize private business?
The problem I see is that:
1) Many local companies do not know these incentives exist.
2) The qualified, targeted industries are not inclusive of all companies.
3) It takes time, money and manpower to continually monitor all companies to determine if they are in compliance and performing as projected.
To date, we have allocated incentives usually for five-year plans, and many of the companies have not been able to fulfill their obligations. We need to explore other industries and occupations and enlarge our pool of partners in this tough economy.
Explain how giving some businesses tax breaks and money in exchange for job creation is morally justified when many longtime, taxpaying Manatee County businesses have never received any government funding?
As I mentioned above, we have a system that provides incentives for certain industries and excludes others. But we need to focus our attention on all companies that will pay at or above certain levels within different categories. We really need to focus our energies on trying different techniques to determine a different outcome. All options should be on the table!
What steps would you recommend to improve the economic and business climate in Manatee County?
There is no magic bullet. The BOCC has kept the millage down for several years now, and taxes have gone down, making the climate better for businesses. We have adjusted impact fees, making them fair and appropriate. We have adjusted permits and fees to make things easier for our citizens. The county has been responsive to the needs of the citizens all the while keeping the level of services constant.
What is your philosophy on the role of the Manatee County Commission and Manatee County government?
This is a very business-friendly commission and county. We want to make sure the services received are paid for by the particular consumer, but not gouge the residents and businesses. In the area of code enforcement and compliance, we want to bring properties into compliance, again, not by charging excessive fees and fines, but by working with the owners to comply with our rules. It is the philosophy to have people live in peace and harmony with their neighbors and their environment.
What is your philosophy on taxation? Are you willing to take the pledge of the Americans for Tax Reform not to increase taxes if you are elected?
The BOCC has kept the millage down over the past few years, all the while income was falling. We are forced to dip into the precious few remaining reserves, just to balance the budget. Any new or unforeseen expenses this coming year will need to be taken from reserves, or existing programs will need to be adjusted.
They are “banking” on the economy leveling out next year and rebounding thereafter. I sure hope that their projections are correct, or we will be faced with an enormous shortfall in five years, and would need to raise taxes or drastically cut services.
What is troublesome is these two gentlemen who control our finances are in the DROP program, and they will be retiring in two years. I hope that they are steering us in the right direction, as the majority of the current BOCC has bought into this game plan.
I do not want to make a pledge as we need to take things as they come and make sound decisions based on fact.
What is your view of population growth and its effects on the county’s economy and quality of life?
As we see the developers building farther and farther east, we are forced to bring the infrastructure and level of service farther away from the urban core, and the growth does not pay for itself. We need to offer incentives to redevelop and revitalize the urban core and shift the growing population closer to goods and services already in existence.
Where do you think county government could become more efficient and save tax dollars?
We need to evaluate all departments and determine what is functioning and evaluate all employees and determine who is performing. We need to determine if all the levels of management are necessary. There must be more accountability.
What is your position on the Tara Bridge?
This bridge has been put on the back burner, with no funding on the horizon. The question should be the Fort Hamer Bridge, which is needed for mobility. However, they are putting the cart before the horse. The roadways leading to and away from the proposed bridge need to be reworked to allow for the high-speed traffic as well as bicycle and pedestrian paths that need to be in place for the public safety. This bridge will be impacting the current owners, and this bridge should have been built before the neighborhoods.
If elected, what do you see as your top three priorities?
With the economy not showing significant improvement, we need to rein in unnecessary programs and retain as much of the reserves as possible. The current county administrator and BOCC chairman care less about the people then they do about the developers they are beholden to. The county’s reserves funds continue to diminish, along with the jobs and services.
What is your vision for Manatee County?
I want to focus on returning the quality of life to District 1 and the county. The current policy is focused on quantity. I want to bring credibility back to the district by cutting out false promises that have current residents paying but never getting. I’m your neighbor and your friend, and I want to be the one who never fails to represent each and every person who resides in Manatee County. I will not allow special interests to get favors while the public picks up the tab. I will not just rubber stamp what comes before me or dodge the Sunshine Law. If we keep doing what we’re been doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’ve been getting: fewer services, fewer opportunities, and less means.
PHOTO GALLERY: Arts at the Ranch Fine Art Festival
Main Street at Lakewood Ranch transformed into an art gallery March 15-16, as art enthusiasts came together at the 14th Art at the Ranch Fine Art Festival. Attendees met regional, national and international award-winning artists, and shopped for photographs, paintings, sculptures and other artwork over the weekend.
PHOTO GALLERY: Irish Celtic Festival
East County residents converged for a green, white and orange kind-of day March 15. The Lakewood Ranch Communities Activities Corp. (CAC) hosted its fourth Celtic Irish Festival, for individuals wanting to get in touch with their inner-Irish. Kilts and Irish dancers filled the grounds of the Central Park, as dogs in Irish-themed outfits and their owners, who sported matching attire in most cases, paraded around the venue. The day kicked off with a 5K run, followed by the Lucky Dog Parade and various other entertainment peppered throughout the day.
PHOTO GALLERY: B.D. Gullett Elementary Walk-a-thon
B.D. Gullett Elementary students ran for more than just spending an hour outside of the classroom March 14. The walkers, joggers and runners raised dollars for their school’s technology and other resource needs. Their two-weeks worth of efforts commenced with the schools Walk-a-thon. Incentives for the students to raise as much money as possible, included an Amazon Kindle Fire, bounce house parties for classes, and the grand prize — watching school faculty members ride around on scooters, with dyed hair.
Commission to discuss St. Armands event moratorium
On Monday, the Sarasota City Commission will discuss the possible extension of a moratorium on special events in St. Armands Circle Park during the height of tourist season.
16 Gloria Musicae Presents A Night at the Opera
6:00 am - 7:00 pm
16 Eight Over Eighty
17 Watercolor Pouring and Blending with Lian Quan Zhen
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
17 Sarasota's Shamrock Pub Annual St Patrick's Day Block Party March 17
17 Nia with Gail in Sarasota
4:45 pm - 5:45 pm
17 AJC Spring Award Dinner honoring AJC's Director David Harris and Gerri Aaron
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
18 Nia with Gail on Anna Maria Island
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
18 3rd annual JFCS Golf Challenge