Manatee County Commission OK's $530M budget

skennedy@bradenton.comSeptember 20, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Manatee County Commission Thursday OK'd a $530 million net budget, up 14.2 percent from $464 million last year while retaining the same tax rate.

The commission voted 7-0 to approve a series of budget measures for 2013-14 following its final public hearing at the County Administrative Center.

The budget is similar to its predecessor after a controversial sales tax increase proposal failed at the polls in June.

The countywide millage rate remained 6.2993, meaning those living in unincorporated areas will pay a rate of 6.9102. One mill equals $1 of taxes for every $1,000 of taxable property; or $6.91 cents per $1,000 worth of property value.

A typical resident with a single-family home valued at $150,000, after exemptions, will pay $1,057 in taxes.

Although countywide taxable property values rose by 3.8 percent, Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker continued to counsel caution in spending.

"We have weathered the storm better than most," he told the board, adding the commissioners had been "fine stewards of the public purse."

The rise in property values will generate $1.2 million more in revenue over last year, which the commission earlier agreed to spend on hiring 12 deputies for Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.

The sheriff will also get approximately $91,880 in capital costs related for the new hires such as cars and other equipment, he said.

The sheriff's department budget was set at $99,380,943, Steube said.

The county employee work force stood at the same number as last year's: 1,658.

County commissioners did add money for seven new positions, including two in purchasing, three in natural resources and two in utilities.

Approximately 30 percent of the total revenue, or $158 million, depends upon property taxes, and $29 million, or 5 percent, from other taxes, according to county documents.

Another 8 percent, or $42 million, comes from federal and state grants, such as transit grants, state sales tax, state revenue sharing

and other sources.

About 22 percent, or $117 million, comes from licensing and permit fees, fines, interest and other miscellaneous sources, and about 35 percent, or $184 million, from charges for service, documents said.

The county's fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and concludes Sept. 30, 2014.

In other action, a small group representing the Jane B. Pratt Alternative School for Girls thanked the commission for its financial support through its child services funds.

Chloe Ostenson, 13, of Bradenton, told the board she had been struggling at school and had become suicidal before transferring to the alternative school last year.

"I needed a new start emotionally and every other way," she said.

She was able to turn her life around and finish out the year there, she said.

She earned the school's "most important student" award, and now is doing fine as an eighth-grader at Braden River Middle School, she said.

The commissioners applauded and wished her well in her future.

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

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