Manatee may consider diversifying tax base

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 15, 2013 

MANATEE — County commissioners Tuesday heard suggestions for property tax relief as part of a joint workshop with the Planning Commission reviewing a report on a more economical, holistic approach to future growth.

The commission discussed “How Will We Grow?” -- a report designed to update county planning efforts. Based on a study that has been under way for more than a year, it presents a vision for Manatee County’s future through the year 2035.

Then commissioners discussed "How Will We Pay?" with Jim Seuffert, the county director of financial management, suggesting methods of providing ad valorem tax relief to property owners.

He suggests reducing property taxes, and instituting potential new revenue sources like a franchise fee on utilities. He also suggests reducing garbage rates for residential customers by $2 a month and instituting a stormwater maintenance fee of $2 a month.

Savings for the typical residential customer would be about $100 should the commission elect to institute franchise fees to offset a property tax reduction, Seuffert said.

The stormwater maintenance fee would be paid by owners of properties with impervious surfaces contributing to stormwater runoff, including some properties that are now exempt from property taxes, Seuffert said.

The county's tax base has dropped by one-third, and other governmental entities, such as Sarasota County, have already diversified their revenue sources, Seuffert explained.

He added that right now, "we're talking at a conceptual level," and that it would not be until April that he would be "looking for some sort of a go-ahead."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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