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Longboat Key Tuesday, Jul. 2, 2013 4 years ago

Longboat Key puts stop to trolley service funding

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Manatee County is being persistent in its attempt to collect $84,000 from the town of Longboat Key to fund the island’s trolley route.

Manatee County officials have sent another letter in an attempt to collect the money for two separate fiscal years.

But Town Manager Dave Bullock says the answer is still no.

Wrote Manatee Director of Public Works Ron Schulhofer in a June 12 letter to Bullock: “On May 7, you and Mayor Jim Brown made a presentation to the Board of Manatee County Commissioners detailing the desire to not have the town subsidize the Longboat Key trolley service. This is contrary to the town agreeing in two separate work sessions to provide an annual subsidy of $42,000 to help fund operations of the trolley.”

Schulhofer requests a total of $84,000 for fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Schulhofer, who sent a similar letter requesting funds Jan. 11, shouldn’t expect any checks from the town.

Bullock told the Longboat Observer he won’t make the payments. He has ordered his finance staff not to pay the $84,000 in trolley-funding requests.

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

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

“I don’t think there’s an authorization for us to keep paying that,” Bullock said.

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. Instead of responding to his request, the county, instead, sent a letter again asking for the funds.

Bullock has shown PowerPoint slides that reveal the Longboat Key trolley route has anemic ridership numbers, but it’s not the poorest-performing route in Manatee County.

Manatee County ridership statists reveal that in 2012, a Palmetto route had 34,303 riders, compared to 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 last month. “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 utilize many of the county’s services for which taxpayers still pay. Those services include a sheriff road patrol, planning services, code-enforcement services, parks services and beach-project management.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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