On Nov. 8, voters in Manatee County will decide whether our community will continue to be competitive in attracting and retaining businesses and jobs.
The outcome of two ballot measures supporting quality education and infrastructure will be pivotal in maintaining and enhancing key community assets that businesses consider when comparing communities for relocation and expansion.
The School Board of Manatee County is seeking to extend an existing half-cent sales surtax for acquisition, renovation and construction of educational facilities. The ballot measure includes a requirement for a citizens’ oversight committee to ensure appropriate use of the funds.
Corporate site selectors tell us that the quality of education, which prepares the community’s workforce, is a primary factor in business location decisions. Companies choose to locate where they can find talent and where executives want to educate their children. Crowded classrooms and outdated, inefficient facilities won’t make the grade.
The second measure is a new half-cent sales surtax to fund necessary infrastructure in Manatee County. A citizens’ advisory board that reviewed the county’s financial structure recommended the sales surtax as the best method to pay for improvements to roads, sidewalks, street lighting, parks – literally hundreds of projects throughout the county. The ballot measure includes a requirement for a citizens’ oversight committee to report to taxpayers on whether county government spends the surtax as promised.
Many planned projects are in older neighborhoods of the county where infrastructure should be repaired or replaced to spur redevelopment.
Poor infrastructure means more congestion on our roadways, broken water lines and power outages, and an inability to get our goods to market. From lost time, to inconvenience, to spending money to fix our cars … it’s a very real cost that we’re paying.
Greg DiLoreto, a Professional Engineer and chair of ASCE’s Committee for America’s Infrastructure
Most families would pay approximately $5 a month with the half-cent sales surtax. This pales in comparison to the amount that worn infrastructure costs families in real dollars. An analysis by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) found that continued underinvestment in infrastructure will cost each U.S. family $3,400 a year during the next decade.
“Poor infrastructure means more congestion on our roadways, broken water lines and power outages, and an inability to get our goods to market,” according to Greg DiLoreto, a Professional Engineer and chair of ASCE’s Committee for America’s Infrastructure. “From lost time, to inconvenience, to spending money to fix our cars … it’s a very real cost that we’re paying.”
$3,400What continued underinvestment in infrastructure will cost each U.S. family per year during the next decade, according to an analysis by the American Society of Civil Engineers
Companies considering a move also examine a community’s ability to address needs proactively, efficiently and fairly. Businesses don’t just look for low taxes; they look for transparency, accountability and sustainability in public spending.
The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC) believes that the “local option” sales surtax is an appropriate funding mechanism to address the county-wide priorities of education and infrastructure. Requiring citizens’ oversight as part of both measures provides for transparency and accountability to help ensure that funds are used as intended.
Education and infrastructure are two of the most important elements contributing to our community’s competitiveness as a business location. They are integral to the EDC’s multi-year economic development strategy, and proper funding will be essential to implementing necessary improvements.
That is why the Bradenton Area EDC encourages Manatee County voters to vote yes on both sales surtax measures on Nov. 8.
Sharon Hillstrom is president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (thinkbradentonarea.com). She can be contacted at email@example.com or 941-803-9036.