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Longboat leaders talk about one county idea with Sarasota commissioners

Leaders continue their research into possibly someday moving county line that splits town.

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  • | 9:30 a.m. October 25, 2018
  • Longboat Key
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In a joint meeting with their Sarasota County counterparts, members of the Longboat Key Town Commission once again discussed the idea of one day, perhaps, residing on one county.

“It should be looked at as a regional opportunity,” Commissioner Irwin Pastor said at the Oct. 24 meeting in Sarasota. “It could be a tremendous opportunity.”

Longboat Key decision makers have said for more than a year now that it makes sense from an operational and financial standpoint to have the town in one county. The town is split roughly 1/3 in Manatee County and 2/3 in Sarasota County.

Town Manager Tom Harmer, once Sarasota County’s top administrator, said the town’s financial staff has met with colleagues in both Sarasota and Manatee counties to discuss the financial implications.

“It would have to be phased in and be incremental,” Harmer said at the meeting.

The idea of moving into one county was first broached by former Town Manager Dave Bullock in 2017. The suggestion grew from the understanding that Longboat residents pay lower taxes on the Sarasota side. According to examples from 2018 Truth in Millage statements from both counties, Manatee residents pay a tax rate of 14.2585 while Sarasota residents pay a rate of 11.7711. 

Sarasota residents pay lower taxes at a rate of:

  • $622 for a home with a taxable value of $250,000
  • $1,244 for a home with a taxable value of $500,000
  • $1,866 for a home with a taxable value of $750,000
  • $2,487 for a home with a taxable value of $1 million
  • $3,731 for a home with a taxable value of $1.5 million

In addition, Longboat officials would not have to deal with two counties for such items as emergency operations and elections.

County Commission Chairperson Nancy Detert said if Longboat moves entirely to one county, then there will be a ripple effect across both counties. For example, she said, school district boundaries would have to be changed, she said, though according to a report from Longboat, a total of less than 80 children from Longboat attend public schools in either Manatee or Sarasota counties, while paying more than $40 million in school taxes.

Detert asked Harmer what Manatee County officials thought about the idea of having Longboat move out of its county. He did not reply.

Pastor said the next step would be to look at the economics of the move, such as tax revenue and the impact on county coffers.

“An investment in Longboat Key would be like an investment in an ATM,” he said. “Sarasota County should put together a committee to look at the numbers.”

Harmer said the next step would be to hold a straw poll for Longboat voters in the March election. If most Longboat voters like the idea, then the town would pursue the matter. The state Legislature is ultimately responsible for moving a county’s borders.






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