Manatee shaves budget by $33M

 

Manatee shaves budget by $33M

 

Date: September 16, 2009
by: Pam McTeer | News Editor

 
 

MANATEE COUNTY — Manatee County government managed to shave $33 million from its budget this year, and County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said the trend is far from over.

“I think we’ve got two more years of downsizing in government because revenues are declining,” he said. “Some of those are market driven and some of those are politics (Amendment 1).”

County leaders are scrambling to cut dollars without impacting programs and services to residents, but Hunzeker said being proactive will be key to Manatee’s success.

This year, Hunzeker introduced the county’s first two-year budget. All departments used a zero-based budgeting system to plan for their needs through the 2010/2011 fiscal year.

The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners approved the proposed 2009/2010 budget Tuesday. The budget for the following year already is lined up but will be updated next summer before going through the review and public hearing process for tweaking and adoption, Hunzeker said.

“It makes people think,” Hunzeker said of the two-year process. “The longer you look out, the more opportunity you have to spot problems and figure out how to deal with them. Sometimes you can see where spending today may save money in the future.”

Of this year’s $510 million budget, property taxes account for 38% of revenues at $190 million. Charges for services account for 33% with $165.4 million, and other taxes, intergovernmental sources and license, permits, fines and other miscellaneous items provide the remaining revenue needed for the budget.

To accomplish $33 million of reductions, Hunzeker said constitutional officers (the clerk of circuit court, supervisor of elections and property appraiser) each reduced their budgets by 5% for a total of about $5 million. Additionally, several capital improvement projects have been deferred and the county has reduced its overall spending.

Hunzeker said some county services are being cut; for example, the Manatee County public library now will be closed on Sundays. Residents also may see fee increases for some services.

Budget reductions also include the elimination of more than 80 positions within county government, including 22 from the planning department, 18 from the public works department, and 10 each from the building and property management departments.

The 2009/2010 budget voted on by commissioners Tuesday night included no increases to millage rates, except for the voted debt service millage. The .0134 increase will translate into a $2.01 increase for a $150,000 single-family home after all applicable exemptions.

To view complete budget documents, visit www.mymanatee.org.

Contact Pam McTeer at pmcteer@yourobserver.com.

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