ANNA MARIA ISLAND — Holmes Beach could one day police or possibly annex the narrow peninsula where the Kingfish Boat Ramp is located.
Manatee County commissioners tentatively agreed Thursday to negotiate with city officials about possibly transferring police power over Kingfish to the city.
Currently, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office polices the area because it is in unincorporated Manatee. But city officials, noting Kingfish is just outside city limits, said their police officers could respond quicker to calls for service.
“The city of Holmes Beach has absolutely no interest in maintaining Kingfish Boat Ramp,” Mayor Rich Bohnenberger told commissioners. “It’s purely a public-safety matter.”
That placated county Commissioner Joe McClash, who had initial reservations about Holmes Beach’s request to discuss annexation. He had concerns that annexation would transfer development-approval rights from the county to the city, a power that city officials said they were not seeking.
“If the intent of this annexation is policing powers, I don’t have a problem with that,” McClash said.
Other commissioners said they supported the idea.
“If this annexation solves a problem, I’m all for it,” Commissioner Larry Bustle said. “There is a gap in service at that point. There’s no reason you have to wait an hour for police service.”
The issue surfaced several years ago when the State Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute a drug arrest that a Holmes Beach police officer made at Kingfish, Bohnenberger said.
That led to the sheriff deputizing city police officers, then withdrawing it because of liability concerns.
Holmes Beach asked the county to let the city annex the boat ramp in 2006, but the county opposed it.
Instead, commissioners said they were only willing to discuss the boat ramp’s design and operation.
Last month, city officials passed a resolution that again asked the county to negotiate a possible annexation.
In Thursday’s vote, commissioners directed the county attorney to draft for their approval a resolution accepting the city’s offer to negotiate.
But even if those negotiations fail to reach an agreement, Holmes Beach still could ask state legislators to pass a local bill that would annex Kingfish into the city.
County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, a former Holmes Beach mayor, said the city already has talked to state Sen. Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton,about possibly filing such a bill.