County Commissioners unanimously approved voter referendum
MANATEE COUNTY, FL – Manatee County voters will decide this November whether to impose a new half-cent sales tax to pay for local roads, public safety and other community projects in Manatee County.
County Commissioners on a 6-0 vote approved the half-cent ballot measure that will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The vote comes two months after the Commission appointed Citizens Financial Structure Advisory Board examined Manatee’s finances and unanimously recommended a half-cent sales tax referendum to ask voters to consider a new revenue source to pay only for aging roads, parks and public safety equipment.
If approved by voters this fall, the new funding would create an estimated $23 million annually for the County and about $4 million for local municipalities. About one-third of those revenues will be paid by Manatee County tourists, visitors and day trippers which was an important point Commissioners pointed out during today’s meeting. Sales tax proceeds will pay for projects throughout Manatee County, and will be distributed among unincorporated areas and the County’s municipalities based on a population-based formula laid out by Florida Statute.
“With a sales tax, everyone would pay including tourists and not only property owners,” said Commission Chairman Vanessa Baugh. “We have a lot of law enforcement needs . Our roads need repair. EMS needs help. We should have everyone help pay for these things and not just property owners. I support taking this to the people for them to decide.”
Manatee County staff last month presented a list of local projects that will be funded through proceeds from the tax. The list of proposed transportation projects includes major road upgrades, intersections improvements , new traffic signals and turn lanes that will improve traffic flow throughout Manatee County. It also includes new bike lanes and additional sidewalks that will give bicyclists and pedestrians new opportunities to reach their destination.
The County has recommended the following funding allocation for local projects based on a recommendation from the Advisory Board:
•71 percent of the funding for roads and transportation-related improvements to relieve congestion throughout the County;
•15 percent for equipment for Manatee Sheriff’s Office and Manatee County Public Safety;
•14 percent for parks and community amenities;
Manatee is the only Bay-area county that does not impose a halfcent sales tax to pay for aging infrastructure like roads and law enforcement equipment.
For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at www. facebook.com/manatee. county.fl and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.