Key Features of Manatee's Health Care Surtax Proposal

May 26, 2013 

Key Features of Manatee's Health Care Surtax Proposal

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker's budget plan is expected to call for cutting county property taxes up to 26 percent for homeowners in municipalities and up to 13 percent for residents of unincorporated areas. However, the plan has not yet been approved by county commissioners.

The first ballot question asks voters if they would approve a countywide one-half cent sales surtax for a 10-year period commencing Jan. 1, 2014, to fund health care for the poor. It does not mention property tax relief.

The countywide tax rate, currently 6.2993 mils, could decrease to 4.7 mils, making Manatee's property tax rate more competitive with neighboring counties, should commissioners approve the budget plan.

The sales tax would increase from 6.5 percent to 7 percent, generating $23 million annually if the voters approve.

Like all Florida sales taxes, the half-cent tax would be collected on most consumer purchases on the first $5,000 of a taxable sale or purchase.

Under the proposed sales tax increase, a family of two earning annually between $60,000 and $70,000 would pay about $64 per year; a family of four earning annually between $40,000 and $50,000 would pay about $52 a year.

Electricity customers in unincorporated areas would pay about 6 percent in new electricity franchise fees, generating $15.8 million for the county; that amount would be offset by a reduction in property tax rates for homeowners in unincorporated areas, should the commission approve Hunzeker's budget plan and voters approve the tax increase.

If the surtax passes and commissioners approve, residents of municipalities would no longer pay $28 million for sheriff's office services, since most municipalities rely on their own police departments.

A second referendum question asks voters whether they would approve of property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in the county.

Early voting for the special election referendum begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Supervisor of Elections office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton. Election Day is June 18.

-- Information supplied by Manatee County and the Manatee Supervisor of Elections website, and compiled by Sara Kennedy

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