Meet the candidate.
Name: Carol Whitmore
Occupation: Manatee County Commissioner/ Registered Nurse at Florida Home Health
Family (spouse/children, ages): Andre Renard, MD, retired; Four adult children, eight grandchildren
Education: Graduated from Manatee High School, Graduate of Manatee Technical College, State College of Florida of Registered Nurse and A.S. degree. Certified Health Care Risk Manager from USF, expired
Elected government experience: City Commissioner of Holmes Beach; Mayor of Holmes Beach; County Commissioner-Present
Why are you running for this position?
I am running for Commission because I care deeply about the future of Manatee County. I am in the position to get major projects done due to my relationships with our State Legislators and the six Cities in our county. We need a steady hand on the commission and not someone who is learning on the job. The next two years are critical due to the leadership position of incoming Senate President Bill Galvano and his ability to work with Manatee County leaders on critical needs for this county. We will not be able to accomplish major projects after we lose leadership positions in Tallahassee. I have those relationships to work with those in leadership. Senator Galvano has endorsed me because I have proven that Manatee County is my #1 priority. I want to assure our infrastructure sales tax is used for projects our citizens voted for and want to work hard to get our codes implemented to allow creativity for low impact housing, clustering and multi-use housing that the market has been begging for.
No one works harder than me to get things done. My husband's profession as a physician, until he recently retired, has allowed us both to work long hours to do what we love.
What uniquely qualifies you for this position?
I am qualified because I have worked hard and proven to our citizens that I am not someone who collects a check and does not get involved. As a At-Large Commissioner, a normal day could be in LWR, north county and then home on AMI in a day meeting with our citizens. My knowledge of managing a budget in excess of 600 million, animal welfare, senior advocacy, processes of how to get roads/bridges built sooner than later, library system, and healthcare in our community helps me be proactive on the needs of our citizens and how to get those needs implemented. I have always returned my phone calls and answer my own emails as a practice that helps me stay in touch with the citizens which I know, is who I work for.
What do you see as the biggest three challenges Manatee County is facing and how do you propose to address them?
- Growth: Manatee County grew by aprox. 8,000 more than was expected last year. Road capacity is a major issue and I will work hard to hold FDOT accountable to get these improvements started and finished sooner than later. I will visit regularly in Tallahassee to assure our County works with our leaders to move these projects forward.
- Budget: Controlling the budget and not raising property taxes has been a major success and a major challenge. Maybe 50 positions with the exception of the sheriff, have been added since the recession that do not have a revenue source. All other positions have had a funding source.
- Adminstrator search: Finding an Administrator in the next 1 ½ years that understands fiscal responsibility and can work with strong personalities at the dais and with the private sector.
What is your position on the sheriff's request for more deputies and why? If applicable, how would you propose to address this issue?
My position with the Sheriff Wells is to work with him and do whatever we can within our budget to get the staff he needs. I have a good relationship with the Sheriff for many years and he is aware that we are working hard to find ways to fund what he needs. Sheriff is respected by the Board and the citizens of Manatee County. When the county is growing as fast as it is, he needs those officers.
County is looking at ways to fund positions he is requesting. Property Appraiser has just come back with lower growth rate this year so will decrease the budget that has been presented by 4 million. This is on the Commissioners and Administrators radar.
What ideas do you have for improving county operations or programs?
Departments have been streamlined to make them more efficient. In the last 2-3 years, building dept has been consolidated and is paid for by those that use it thus saving the property taxpayers money.
County has vacillated about privatizing transit. Sarasota has just gone out to see if there is any interest. Aprox. 9-10 million to run with minimal revenue which cannot support it. A new website has just launched a few weeks ago that commission supported to be more transparent and customer friendly.
What is your position on raising the millage rate as a way to generate more revenue and why?
My position has been to raise as a last resort. As mayor of a city, I never presented a budget with a property tax increase and the same as your county commissioner. I truly believe to live within our means. If there were something that was critical to public safety, I would consider but we have reserves and other sources that would have to be used before I did this. As someone who has lived on their own since the age of 15, I truly believe in living within our means.
Do you think the county needs more revenue and why? What would more revenues provide residents?
Yes, the county could benefit with more revenue but not on the backs of property tax payors only. More revenue would provide more staff to keep up with maintaining our parks & preserves, EMS staff, Sheriff, Public Works who maintains our streets and infrastructure, library’s, animal services who is staffed for 150 animals and today has 300 at the animal shelter and other depts. that work hard with same staffing levels since recession. Roughly 50,000-60,000 moved into the county last year where projection were at apox.. 2,000.
Manatee County residents of Longboat Key frequently mention the lack of return they receive on their county property taxes. What is your response to that concern and how would you address it?
As a former Barrier Island City Commissioner and Mayor of Holmes Beach, I understand the frustration of LBK’s concerns. I have the utmost respect for the Mayor and Commissioners. I have not met the newest Commissioner as time has changed for the meetings and cannot get down to the meetings, but will. The most recent meeting with the Town did benefit the town and I thank them for coming up and dealing with a very tough and sometimes very hostile meeting. The result did get LBK some services that we should have been helping with. We are now sending staff to Beer Can to clean the tip. They must walk via Whitney Beach and in the water to get there but they are doing it. The Sheriff is patrolling more often and the biggest result of that meeting is the County has agreed to give their share of dredged sand to LBK to help with the critical need at the north end. This will be the second cycle that we have let LBK go ahead of Manatee County due to their critical need. We need to all work together to assure the sewer lines under the bay to 66th utilities plant remains intact and work with LBK to help them when ready to replace piping which will be the most environmentally sensitive project that I can ever recall. We need to all work together to accomplish this in the future.