A new year means another fight about how much money it will take to keep the Longboat Key trolley route operational.
Town Manager Dave Bullock emailed the Longboat Key Town Commission Monday, Jan. 14, explaining he plans to meet with the Board of Manatee County Commission to discuss its funding requests.
He has ordered staff not to pay the funding request for fiscal year 2011-12 and to hold off on another $42,000 funding request from the county for fiscal year 2012-13.
Manatee County Public Works Director Ron Schulhofer sent a letter to Finance Director Tom Kelley, dated Jan. 7, requesting the town send a check for $42,000.
Instead of sending a check, Bullock sent Schulhofer a letter dated Jan. 11 explaining he needs more information before sending the county money.
“I appreciate that costs of providing county services are rising,” Bullock wrote. “We are all experiencing an increased cost of doing business.”
“This information will help the town prepare for a discussion with the County Commission regarding supplemental funding for the county-wide transit system,” Bullock wrote.
It’s not the first time the town has questioned funding requests for the Manatee County portion of the route since it was formed in 2008.
The route runs from Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island to downtown Sarasota and uses one trolley each from Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) and Manatee County Area Transit.
In 2010, Manatee County lost a Florida Department of Transportation grant that helped the county fund half of its $285,000 annual trolley service on the Key. The town paid the county $42,000 in fiscal year 2010-11 to help pay for the route.
“We’re looking for some answers before we agree to pay anything,” said town budget specialist Sandi Henley, noting that the county levies a tax to its taxpayers specifically for transit services.
The annual funding spat with Manatee County is in direct contrast to the trolley funding relationship with Sarasota County.
In October, the Sarasota County Commission pledged support of Longboat Key’s trolley route at a joint workshop. It promised to work with town officials and to discuss the route and future funding at a joint workshop with Manatee County commissioners.
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