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Longboat Key Wednesday, May. 29, 2013 4 years ago

Bullock wants Key taxpayers to halt funding

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Town Manager Dave Bullock does not believe Longboat Key should pay any additional funds to Manatee County to help fund the Key’s trolley route.

In a presentation to the Manatee County Commission May 7, Bullock explained Longboat Key taxpayers have paid more than $6 million in transportation services to the county in the last 10 years.

Bullock has already ordered his finance staff not to pay a $42,000 trolley-funding request for fiscal year 2011-12 and to hold off on another $42,000 funding request from the county for the current fiscal year.

Manatee County Public Works Director Ron Schulhofer sent a letter dated Jan. 7 to the town’s finance department requesting the town send a check for $42,000 for fiscal year 2012-13.

Schulhofer said the county, again, has not received any state grants to help subsidize the cost of operating the trolley, thus creating a shortfall of revenue needed to manage the Longboat Key route.

Instead of sending a check, Bullock sent Schulhofer a letter dated Jan. 11, explaining he needed more information before he would consider sending the county any funds.

Although the town paid the county $42,000 in fiscal year 2010-11, Bullock said he’s reviewed all of the minutes between the county and the town’s meetings and can’t find an agreement that mandates the town continue to pay for the trolley route.

On May 7, Bullock asked the Manatee County Commission for a motion to stop billing the town for transit service and to rescind the bills for the last two years.

“This needs to be resolved,” Bullock said.

Bullock also played PowerPoint slides that show although the Longboat Key trolley route has anemic ridership numbers, it’s not the poorest-performing route in Manatee County.

Manatee County ridership statistics reveal that in 2012 a Palmetto route had 34,303 riders, compared with 37,275 riders for the Longboat Key route that same year.

“As far as we know, the county is not billing the city of Palmetto for having a route with less riders than we have,” Bullock said. “We’re asking the county to stop singling out Longboat Key taxpayers to subsidize county-wide transit operations.”

Bullock also noted that, unlike other Manatee County municipalities, the town does not use many of the county’s services that its taxpayers fund. Those services include a sheriff road patrol, planning services, code-enforcement services, parks services and beach-project management.

Although the commission did not make the motion Bullock sought, Manatee County Commission Chairman John Chappie asked for an agenda item at a future budget workshop to discuss the matter further.

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