A new organization in town has a plea for the citizens of Manatee County: Please vote yes for the passage of two sales tax referendums on the Nov. 8 ballot. They’re known as the No. 6 and No. 7 initiatives.
Forward Manatee, a group of local citizens representing a broad array of community leaders, held its kickoff event Thursday evening at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, 222 10th St. W., Bradenton. Mac Carraway, spokesman for Forward Manatee and the chairman of the Manatee County citizens financial structure advisory board, spoke about supporting the two local half-penny initiatives before a crowd of nearly 40 people.
The first is a half-cent county sales tax that would provide for projects including but not limited to the repair of local roads and the building of sidewalks. The Herald previously reported that the sales tax would generate enough to address transportation, public safety and parks/community amenity needs as the county faces a deficit come 2018.
The Manatee County School Board is also seeking an extension of its half-cent sales tax first implemented in 2002. It would go toward the school upgrades and other modernization projects.
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This county, which is absolutely your county, should not have to continually face a budget where these fundamental assets and services are shortchanged. It’s not healthy and, as we’re telling you tonight, it’s not necessary.
Mac Carraway, spokesman for Forward Manatee
If both measures are approved — a half penny for the schools and a half penny for the county — it would raise the sales tax rate in the county from 6.5 percent to 7 percent. Each measure would be in effect for 15 years.
Carraway said it became clear through his participation in the county citizens financial structure advisory board that there is a “growing backlog” of needs related to the county’s existing infrastructure.
“Things related to roads and traffic, public safety, law enforcement, community amenities,” he listed. “And frankly, there’s no systemical financial structure within the county to address that.”
Carraway said more than half the major roads in the county require some substantive work with the price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This county, which is absolutely your county, should not have to continually face a budget where these fundamental assets and services are shortchanged,” he said. “It’s not healthy and, as we’re telling you tonight, it’s just not necessary.”
The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Wednesday announced its support of Forward Manatee’s efforts.
We don’t continue this funding, you may have an extra $2.50 a month in your pocket, $30 a year, but our children will take a $30 million dollar hit.
John Horne, co-chairman of Forward Manatee
“Both of these issues are critical to ensuring and maintaining Manatee County’s quality of life for current and future businesses and residents,” the release stated.
John Horne, Anna Maria Oyster Bar president and Forward Manatee co-chairman, focused on the school sales tax initiative during Thursday’s kickoff event.
“Our entire community is greatly affected by our school district,” he said. “If we don’t continue this funding, you may have an extra $2.50 a month in your pocket, $30 a year, but our children will take a $30 million hit. All the money collected here stays here. It doesn’t go to Tallahassee, it doesn’t go to Washington, sorry Mr. Trump. All the money goes to capital needs such as new schools, renovated schools, maintenance and repair of the existing schools, technology and safety as well as buses.”
By the year 2030, my 10-month-old will be a 14-year-old attending one of these schools. I would like for him to have the best technology, the best security, and the best school possible to help him succeed in life and excel.
Renita Williams, Bradenton resident
Renita Williams, 36, of Bradenton, shared with attendees her insight as a mother of four and a home school liaison in Manatee Elementary School. She said she has grown to know some district’s needs.
“Can you just imagine what our schools would need to look like in the year 2030? Well, that’s what this is all about,” she said. “By the year 2030, my 10-month-old will be a 14-year-old attending one of these schools. I would like for him to have the best technology, the best security, and the best school possible to help him succeed in life and excel. This is my home and I want Manatee County to be a place we can all be proud to work, live and play. Please, please support both of these referendums to enhance and improve our county and our schools.”
Claire Aronson and Meghin Delaney contributed to this report.